I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Somehow I can’t help it. Wherever I go, I see opportunities. Any problem that arises looks like something to build a company around. Lately, I’ve started helping larger enterprises on their journey to innovation. To create innovation, we need entrepreneurship. And that’s hard to find, especially in enterprises.
I’m always trying to simplify things. And to bring complex problems down to 1 or 2 things. There’s 1 big blocker to entrepreneurship in large companies: job specialization. If anybody asks me what I’m doing as an entrepreneur, I reply: (a bit of) everything. Starting and building a company means doing stuff that others don’t want to do. It means:
> doing stuff you hate doing (like creating financial spreadsheets and working on contracts so you don’t get screwed over);
> Always looking what’s not working and then fixing it;
> Finding out how to hire (and fire) people
> Finding clients (quite important!)
> Serving clients
> Fixing unhappy clients
> Deciding what to focus on
> Creating product roadmaps
> and on and on and on
You can hire people for all of these things, so you don’t need to do it. Problem is; if they don’t do it, you must. If you don’t, who will?
Now most people like to specialize. I am a php programmer and I build websites. I do administration and work in the finance department. I am a digital marketeer and like spreading things in social media.
There’s a beginning and an end to what a specialist does. As an entrepreneur there isn’t. You just need to do what needs doing. If you don’t, your company (or you) gets stuck.
As an employee and specialist, you can focus on specific things. If you’re not hired to do something, you just leave it (even if you know it needs doing, but it’s not what you are paid for).
If you don’t like your job, you can quit and go elsewhere. As an entrepreneur, you become entangled in responsibilities. You need to take care of the people you hired. You can’t just let your clients down. You’re in it deeply and you can’t just quit. There’s also that voice that keeps saying ‘you must succeed’, so you keep going. Persist.
Don’t get me wrong: I love being an entrepreneur. Doing 1 thing over and over would bore me to death. The challenge is to identify the above behavior of an entrepreneur in a large company. Those are the people who’ll build innovation. Those are the people who’ll make your innovation program work out. They are your change agents. They are the guys who’ll launch that new killer product.
Who comes to mind in your enterprise?