May 26, 2017 • 7 minute read • by Saeed
“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in caves, we were all self-employed… finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us,“You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs. “
– MUHAMMAD YUNUS
Our zeitgeist is obsessed with entrepreneurs. They represent the new American Dream. Their overnight success stories of fame and riches are alluring but the truth about success is very different. Most successful businesses are not run on the next disruptive technology that changes the world. They are run onrather on consistent service delivery to meet a customer’s specific need. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is not restricted to spawning new enterprises. Not at all. There are many internal employees who exhibit the same drive, enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation but do so within an existing framework – they are intrepreneurs. The main difference is that the intrepreneur is already backed by capital – what the entrepreneur spends half their time chasing. Meanwhile, the intrepreneur is busy pushing the envelope, testing the limits of their own creativity, inspiring others, and creating incredible internal value. Here is how they do it.
1. Intrepreneurs act like they own it.
They act like the CEO. Of their team, project, space or whatever else they’re handed. It’s a good question: What if owned it? How would you behave differently? What kind of time would you put in? What kind of discipline would you apply? How would you view your team, your project, your equipment? How would you approach them? What would be your objectives? Would they change from what they are now?
2. Intrepreneurs are visionary.
They routinely visualize an unrealized future. They can see what others can’t. They skate to where the puck is going to be. They are big picture thinkers. They innovate fearlessly. They are creative and bold. They think and dream big. They’re not afraid to try. They’re not afraid to fail. They have a let’s ‘test it and see what happens’ attitude. The are idea machines and they treat their work environments like laboratories to experiment with what works and what doesn’t and to better understand human nature. As Wayne Gretzky once said: I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
3. Intrepreneurs take responsibility for their own engagement.
Entrepreneurs do what they enjoy. Intrepreneurs need to enjoy what they do. Don’t like your job? Struggling? On a sheet of paper draw two columns. Label one ‘Things I Like About My Job’ and label the other one ‘Things I’d Like To Change About My Job.’ Now make the list. Stream of consciousness is best. Once you’re done, study it. Then, begin to capitalize on the things you like. Make efforts and do activities that grow that column. For the next column, identify those items you may have some control over and those you don’t. For those you don’t, forget about them. Exert no energy their way. For those you do, begin to put actions in place to change them and move them over to the ‘Things I Like’ column. That’s your engagement plan. You’re welcome.
4. Intrepreneurs take responsibility for their own motivation.
Don’t blame others for your lack of it. Otherwise see #3.
5. Intrepreneurs manage resourcefully.
This is not just about being frugal. It’s about doing more with less as a mindset. It’s about paying attention to the bottom line. look out for the owner, company or whatever so that not only can it survive, but so that it can thrive. Your efforts will be noticed and rewarded.
6. Intrepreneurs Ideate AND execute.
Richard Branson says ideas are a dime a dozen. Steve Wozniack tells a story of Steve Jobs that while he was without doubt a visionary, he did not know how to execute. Not until he was fired and had to start up NEXT. When he came back to Apple, he’d learned how to execute. That difference meant the iPod, iPad and iPhone, some of the most iconic products we’ve seen produced by the technology sector.
7. Intrepreneurs have command over the data.
Big data. Small data. Whatever kind of data. They got it. They know it. They have it down pat. They show up with facts, not opinions. That’s what a serial entrepreneur told me was his best advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. This was something he realized after a meeting he had at the White House where everyone showed up with their opinions but because he had the facts, he won the day.
8. Intrepreneurs practice the art of persuasion.
Cultivate the ability to influence others to change how they think. That starts with your own credibility and attributes. This is where you begin to demonstrate real leadership. I once read a definition of leadership that said it’s the ability to focus the attention of others. That’s the art of persuasion. This requires you knowing when to pull back and when to choose your battles. It requires a significant amount of emotional intelligence.
9. Intrepreneurs understand the art of negotiation.
Negotiation comes into play daily at all levels and in every position. It comes naturally to some but must be learned by most. Intrepreneurs understand how important it is to plan for and prepare to negotiate with their colleagues to create a win-win outcome. They negotiate to win consent, cooperation and consensus. They negotiate up, they negotiate down and they negotiate laterally. To do so, they leverage effective communication skills, emotional regulation, active listening, and clarity of purpose. Most importantly, they are closers.
10. Intrepreneurs develop risk tolerance.
Recent research does not support the long held conventional belief that risk tolerance is solely the domain of the entrepreneur. To the contrary. While the intrepreneur does not necessarily have to tolerate the same types of risks as the entrepreneur, they are by no means risk averse. Entrepreneurs don’t seek out risk but rather learn to manage it. In fact, researchers found no differences in risk tolerance between people who continued to work for other companies and those who went on to become entrepreneurs. Those who take more risks simply become more comfortable with it over time.
11. Intrepreneurs are effective promoters.
It has been said that perception is reality and how people perceive you or your projects at work is vital to overall success. In the age of the Internet and social media and unrelenting competition,
the ability to brand and promote has become essential. Despite how talented you may be, pushing to the side your personal branding efforts will ensure that your talents are not appropriately noticed. Show your passion. Share your talents. Use stories to tell who you are. Part of getting promoted at work is about learning how to promote yourself.
12. Intrepreneurs understand their customer.
Here is where you must really think like an entrepreneur. Research shows that those who understand their customers (insert audience, constituents, stakeholders, clients etc.) are more successful overall. That’s common sense too. Identify your customer, analyze them and develop key insights that help drive your acquisition and retention strategy. Customer analytics allow for more effective customer engagement providing more actionable intel to meet the long-term needs of your customers. Understanding customer behavior has gotten easier than ever. Just because you’re at the back of the house, it does not mean you should not understand the front-end issues related to customers. The more you understand the end user issues, the more successful you are likely to be regardless of your position in the company.
Tremendous forces are radically reshaping the world of work as we know it. To keep up, we need to radically shift our point of view on what it takes to be successful at work. Disruptive innovations are creating new industries and business models and destroying old ones. Similarly, we need to destroy the old model of moving tasks from the inbox to the outbox. New technologies, data analytics and social networks are having a huge impact on how we communicate, collaborate and work. We need to leverage these. Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow will be ones we’ve not even thought of yet but the steps laid out above will help you understand and respond effectively to these new changes while creating value each and every time.
©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.
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