Entrepreneurs intuitively question the status quo and existing processes. In doing so, they aren’t being confrontational or hostile; rather, they simply don’t have the component in their minds that keeps them from inquiring as to why. This component can be uninstalled in the minds of a company’s employees by just giving them consent to ask questions and ensuring that your administration group avoids a defensive attitude when someone asks a question. “That’s how we’ve always done it” is an acceptable answer, but only as a method to open dialogue about alternatives.
Empowering employees to employ “design thinking” that focuses on solutions and not just wild brainstorming will lead to better, more creative ideas up and down the chain. Ann Puig, a successful business leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist from Costa Rica, understands the importance of design thinking and shares three ways entrepreneurs can help their staff think like them.
Create a more diverse network. “Each week, try to connect two people in your network who don’t know each other. This will help them build the ‘tissue’ that makes the employees more passionate about the business projects. Networks are one of the most valuable tools for a business to succeed.”
Don’t think of the networking opportunity as a time to engage the business’s goals. It should be a time for meeting new people and doesn’t need to focus on business transactions.
It’s also important to encourage autonomy. To empower an employee is to trust him or her, which will energize them into being more entrepreneurial. Give the employees credit when it’s due. “By giving employees the ability to make certain decisions without approval, they feel more useful, more beneficial and more appreciated,” explains Puig. For example, if the business is retail-centric, give employees the ability to authorize discounts or refunds, to a certain limit, without needing to seek approval from someone higher up the chain.
There is an added benefit to giving certain types of control to staff members. Not only will it empower them to think like entrepreneurs; it will also give the business owner the ability to streamline his or her day and free up time that would have otherwise been spent on those tasks. This will lead to increased profits and a better working environment for everyone.
There is constant discussion over whether or not entrepreneurs are “born” or made.” While certain entrepreneurs undoubtedly have an integrated talent for propelling their businesses, this doesn’t mean that certain individuals can’t be molded into emulating certain entrepreneurial behaviors. Says Puig, “If you take the lead and encourage your staff to think like entrepreneurs, you won’t’ just differentiate your company from the competition, you will undoubtedly foster new innovations and enjoy greater success.”
Starting a business is a rewarding and challenging experience. Turning the business into a success requires dedication, discipline and responsibility. There are a number of actions a budding entrepreneur can incorporate into his or her routine to ensure that the goals are reached, but building a team of autonomous employees will go a long way to ensure that the business is able to achieve those goals.