Recently, I had an opportunity to share ideas with a group of legislators, educators, and business leaders on the role of the entrepreneur – now and in the future. Any time you get a group together, getting agreement can be a real challenge. But on one area we had unanimous agreement – Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity in both the private and public sectors will be a significant driver out of our current situation and for long term economic growth in the years to come.
More and more Americans are starting or running their own businesses –
There are a number of factors driving a change in how many of us view work today. In the last five years, during both the up cycle and our current down cycle, many workers left traditional jobs in corporations and explored new alternatives.
In some cases, what they found was more rewarding than their former jobs and they will not be going back to the corporate world again. They have opened consulting practices, restaurants, retail establishments and on-line businesses to name a few.
Others will return to more tradition employment as the current job cycle corrects itself.
Additionally, population demographics are changing. In 2010, over one half of the world population will be over 50 years old and the average life expectance in the U.S. will be approaching 100! People will be healthier, more active, and less likely to retire, but will want the flexibility of non traditional jobs. A new entrepreneurial or self employed life style is very attractive to many of the people embarking on their ‘second 50 years’. In many cases, ”Boomers” have or have access to the resources and key factors for starting or growing a business – education, talent, experience, and the drive to create something new and different. .
Are you a “-preneur”?
An entrepreneur is someone who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for turning an idea into a business venture while an intrapreneur is a person who does the same thing within a large corporation. In both cases, you take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable organization or finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. The prefix before the “-preneur” simply shows where you are in the organization when you are driving change and growth. When at the helm of my own company – I am an entrepreneur. When working with clients – they have the ultimate responsibility and my job is to help them as the entrepreneur or intrapreneur. I like to think that as a “-preneur” you can make things happen – no matter what the structure of the organization you are in.
Is being entrepreneurial enough?
Not if you want your business prosper over time! The purpose and values of an organization are the next KEY to growth.
Defining the core purpose of an organization is actually the process of centering in on what you really care about – what you are really good at – and in the area where these activities come together – what you can do that creates a degree of value that people will pay you for. This is your core purpose or the primary reason that you are in business. If all of your strategy, goals and activities are focused only on what satisfies each of these three criteria, there is a much higher probability for success. Conversely, activities that do not fall in these areas are opportunities for outsourcing or partnerships.
The basic premise is to do what you do best and for the rest – partner with whoever is best at it. This defines WHAT you do as a company. The next key factor is HOW you will accomplish it. This is where values come into play. An organization’s values define how they do things. We always talk about how a company does something but the reality is that it’s the people inside that make things happen.
People’s values determine how they do things. How they act. How hard they work. How creative they will be. If you can match the values of your organization to the values of the people who are in it (or come into it), you’ve got a winner. When people share the same values, they don’t have to be motivated. They already are motivated. They find new ways of doing things. They focus on the customers. They make things happen because they believe in what they are doing.
Are you ready to grow…
Be sure that growth fits in with your core purpose and values. Very often we see an opportunity to grow and we jump into it before we take the time to fully evaluate what it means to our business in the long term. Growth for growth’s sake can be very dangerous. Companies that grow too fast can lose their focus, confuse their employees or adversely affect the quality their customers have come to expect. In the most extreme cases they can even run out of cash and without cash everything stops. Here are a couple of questions every company should ask themselves as they move towards growth:
- Does the new product, location or service fit into what we have defined as our core purpose?
- Do we have the operational and financial resources to support the levels of quality and service our customers have come to expect from us?
- What should we be measuring each step of the way through the growth process to ensure we are continuing to move in the right direction?
- Who are the partners we work with who can help us with this growth and how can they help us? What are they best at?
The best advice…
Find something you can get really excited about. Starting any new business – or growing an existing one – is hard work and few pay off right away. You need to really care about what you are doing. It keeps you energized and enthusiastic when things get tough.
Once your business is established, use your passion, your purpose, and your values as a guide. Find employees and partners that share your passions and values. Together you can’t help but grow!
Thanks for stopping by…