Engage All Employees in Thinking Like Entrepreneurs

Thinking like an entrepreneur is a must for business owners – but have you ever thought about the benefits of getting all your employees to think like entrepreneurs too?

If you want your business to be innovative from the top down to the front line, this type of thinking needs to be ingrained in your whole organization (not just in the CEOs office). Entrepreneurial thinking should become part of your company culture and encouraged by your leadership team; it isn’t just a one-and-done initiative.

An article by Canadian Business, How to get your employees to think more like entrepreneurs, discuses several innovative Canadian companies that are achieving huge growth thanks to the “intrapreneurial” spirit of their employees. According to the article, “In a world where innovation cycles move lightning fast, you’d better believe the companies outfitted with a small army of intrapreneurs are forging well ahead of their competitors.”

Ken Tencer, Innovators Alliance speaker, guest blogger, and CEO of Spyder Works Inc., was featured in the article, saying: “Before the internet and globalization, you could drive a business on a few successful market launches… but you can’t create the number of ideas necessary to succeed on your own anymore.”

The companies that are exploding with growth and success are those that allow their employees the freedom to try new ideas, the flexibility to pursue self-driven goals, and the support to fail and get back up again – and all of this within the confines of the goals of the organization.

For many CEOs and business owners, this type of change won’t happen without a change in your organization’s structure and processes. Employees need to be given opportunities for creative thinking – they need time and space dedicated to it, regularly.

At Innovators Alliance, we have outlined an exercise called “The 1st S.T.E.P. to Innovation”, an environmental scan that business owners can use to engage all employees in thinking about upcoming trends and ideas that could impact the company.

Here’s a brief overview of the exercise:

The 1st S.T.E.P. to Innovation

Spark a discussion around each of the below topics.

Socio-Cultural Considerations

Example questions:

  • Do incoming generations have different attitudes than their predecessors? How might this affect our company?
  • What influence do societal factors such as health, social mobility, or education have on us? Are these factors in flux or stable in our province/country?
  • Which societal taboos and/or norms matter for our company’s success? Are they changing?

Technological Considerations

Example questions:

  • What new technologies can we be using?
  • What new technologies are about to or have already entered the marketplace that could radically change our work and/or our industry? (e.g. the rise of the internet, the rise of smartphones, etc.)
  • How are our competitors using new technologies? Are they gaining a significant advantage?

Economic Considerations

Example questions:

  • Is the current economy growing, steady, or declining?
  • Do customers/clients have disposable income to spend on our services/products? Is this likely to change?
  • What impact is globalization having on our industry, and on the economy in general?

Political Considerations

  • What views do the politicians who are likely to come into office soon have on business policy and other issues that may affect our company?
  • Are there any pending or upcoming legislation changes that may affect us? Would those changes be good or bad, and how can we best prepare?
  • How are issues such as business regulation, environmental protection, consumer protection, etc., likely to change in the foreseeable future? How will this affect us?

Use this exercise as a jumping off point, then begin to give your employees a sense of ownership over their ideas and new initiatives. Remember to make it safe for employees to take risks on their ideas, and provide frequent recognition for their successes.

You’ll be amazed at the innovations that arise! (For a full breakdown of this exercise and the critical questions to address, get in touch with us.)

Innovators Alliance is a business-to-business networking group committed to driving growth through innovation. Be our guest at an upcoming event to see what it’s all about!

Is your company innovative? Try our Innovator Self-Test. It has only 10 questions and takes less than 2 minutes!

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About Peggie Pelosi

Peggie Pelosi is the Executive Director of Innovators Alliance. She works with entrepreneurs and CEOs throughout Ontario to ensure they have access to the tools and resources to ensure profitable growth through innovation. Peggie is a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator, having built two companies which have both been game-changers in their industries. Peggie teaches in the space of Social Innovation in graduate business programs at the University of Toronto-St. Michael’s College and Seneca College.