By Jim Altfeld
Before we can begin to define the Entrepreneurial Employee™, we must first define what an entrepreneur is. Kind of like the blind men and the elephant, people see, feel and touch various segments of entrepreneur-ism and come up with their own definitions and ideas based upon whichever part or parts they become familiar.
In coming up with a composite sketch, I believe there are eight critical and distinct attributes that make up an entrepreneur.
- First and foremost, entrepreneurs want to be masters of their own fate. They want to control their own destiny, shape their own future and set their own course.
- They have to be able to actually see an opportunity.
- They have to have the passion, guts and determination to actually seize upon that opportunity.
- They must have a great passion and enthusiasm for what they do.
- They have to have the confidence and optimism to think that they will succeed regardless of a lack of resources, either controlled or available.
- They have to be able to bear the risk of uncertainty.
- They are participants and players, not spectators and fans. They know how to get their feet wet and their hands dirty and don’t think twice about doing either.
- They are calculated risk takers, not reckless gamblers.
So, what is the difference between an Entrepreneurial Employee and an Entrepreneur?
A lot more than just the fact that one has Employee by its name and the other doesn’t. Entrepreneurial Employees lack the guts of the entrepreneur, which is not a bad thing. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
An Entrepreneurial Employee is really a border line Entrepreneur. They like the feel, touch, taste, smell and sound of being an entrepreneur, but they always seem to find some reason why they can’t take that plunge. For example, so often during an economic downturn, people get laid off and go into consulting. As soon as the economy turns around, the first thing they do is get a job and go back into employment world. Why? Because, they don’t have all eight required attributes. It’s just easier to work for someone else if you’re built that way.
Is a sales person an entrepreneurial employee? No. Because as a sales person, yes, they do have a great deal of autonomy, but they don’t have the responsibilities that go with fulfilling the complete order (operations), nor do they carry any real risk.
The Entrepreneurial Employee Defined.
Of the eight attributes of an Entrepreneur, the Entrepreneurial Employee has the following:
A) They really do want to be masters of their own fate. They want to control their own destiny, shape their own future and set their own course.
B) They have the ability to actually see an opportunity.
C) They are participants and players, not spectators and fans. They know how to get their feet wet and their hands dirty and don’t think twice about doing either.
D) They are calculated risk takers, not reckless gamblers.
E) They have a great passion and enthusiasm for what they do.
What they lack is:
F) The passion, guts and determination to actually seize upon that opportunity.
G) The confidence and optimism to think that they will succeed regardless of a lack of resources, either controlled or available.
H) The guts it takes to bear the risk of uncertainty in any economy.
I don’t know about you, but give me A, B, C, and D in an employee and I’ll take him or her in a heartbeat!!!
Entrepreneurial Employees are self-sufficient, self-managed employees who, like the Entrepreneur, can handle many tasks simultaneously. Can be a bit of a Ready, Fire, Aim person, but for the most part, will only take calculated risks. To be a true, EE, however, it is the Entrepreneur who is going to have to think differently about his or her employees before that can ever happen.
Think about this:
What if you took the employee’s role further and had them close on an account, staff it and produce the deliverables. That you left it up to them to manage and implement the execution of the services sold. That instead of just being responsible for selling, which of course is extremely important, selling no longer is the primary focus of their responsibilities. In other words, you let them assume the risk of your business venture by rewarding them strictly out of the profits earned. Take away the salary and just pay them a percentage of the profits. They, like you, would run their part of the company with no guarantees, with high risk and high reward potential.
Why would an employee ever accept such an offer? Because, you have taken away most of their risk. You already have an on-going business about which they are quite familiar and they see you as a friendly banker. Unlike you had to do when you first started out, they don’t have to go looking for money with no credit and their hat in their hand. They have you!
The best way to look at this is from the perspective of a private equity company. You own the business, but someone else is responsible for it.
Imagine taking your 2nd tier Executive Management Team and turning the Team into Entrepreneurial Employees. Can you imagine how much more valuable that would make your business to a prospective buyer? Can you imagine how much more time and freedom you would have to do the things you never had the time to do and lead the kind of life you could only dream of having.
With The Entrepreneurial Employee, those dreams can indeed become a reality.