2 years ago
I have a healthy contempt for pretty much all modern politicians, but occasionally, one may break with tradition and say something that makes perfect sense. And so it was this week, when one such policy maker suggested that entrepreneurship and enterprise should be taught and celebrated in schools.
The gist of his argument is that it’s through entrepreneurial effort that jobs and wealth are created – and I wouldn’t argue with that – but I think there’s another reason it’s important… one that is central to every one of us reaching our full potential. And it goes way beyond what being an entrepreneur normally means.
Much as it pains me to admit it, not everyone agrees with me all of the time. (in fact in my own household, nobody does – ever!) And even here, in the comparatively safe company of you people who read my blogs, I get the odd protest. “That’s all well and good” they say “but not everyone is an entrepreneur. Some of us have to work for someone else for a living.”
It’s a fair comment – much of what I write here and elsewhere IS written with fellow entrepreneurs in mind. So what about everyone else then? Well here’s the thing – I reckon employees should be entrepreneurs too… or to be more accurate, employees should at least think and behave like entrepreneurs. In fact there’s no other sensible option for running your life. Let me explain what I mean.
A typical employee mentality might be expressed something like this…
“I’m an employee of this company, I work for them, and they pay my wages. I rely on them for my wages and financial welfare. It’s up to the company to look after me and ensure that I’m trained correctly to do the job. I get paid to do a job for them, and that’s what I try to do. No more and no less. If the company don’t need me any more at some point in the future, that will be a big problem for me... My income will disappear and I might find it difficult to get other work. There’s little I can do about that though, other than hope, I don’t have any other income, and this job is pretty much all I’m trained for. My financial destiny and lifestyle are in the company’s hands.”
An employee with an entrepreneurial thought process would
look at the situation very differently though.
“I’m managing director of my own company… Me Ltd. It only has one employee… yours truly. At the moment I have a contract to hire out my companies services to a larger company in return for a regular fixed fee. I’m always looking for ways to improve on the contract I have with them, and to get a better return from it. I know that if I provide better value, the contract will probably become more lucrative. I consistently try to find new ways to increase the value I offer. This one contract doesn’t define my business though. No company should ever rely on just one contract. I’m always open to the possibility of new projects and contracts to run alongside the existing one.
Like all businesses, mine has several departments and functions which need regular attention… finance, marketing, human resources, training to name but four. I need to keep on top of all of these if the business is to prosper. If I take my eye off any of these functions, I put the whole company at risk.
Because I only have the one employee, it’s particularly important that I manage his welfare well and train him up to be the best he can be. Without him being at his best - physically, mentally and intellectually – the business is going to suffer. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to ensure that this happens. It’s my business, and it’s up to me to manage it properly.”
Can you see the huge difference between the mindset of a typical employee, and that of one with an entrepreneurial approach? As a typical employee, you prostrate yourself at the feet of an employer and effectively say, “Do as you will… my fate rests with you”. As an employee with an entrepreneurial approach, you take full responsibility and control over your own destiny. And the good news is it takes little more than a change in mindset but the resultant effect on actions and outcomes is likely to be huge.
I now have a suggestion for you; take a sheet of A4 paper and write ‘Your Name’ Ltd at the top. Make a list of your assets and liabilities, just like a regular company. Draw up a profit and loss account. Write out an analysis of the opportunities and challenges the enterprise faces. Be honest about any shortcomings in your ‘workforce’, and resolve to take action to plug any gaps through development and training. Look at all the departments in turn… finance, marketing, human resources, training… to see where there may be room for improvement, and then make an agreement with yourself to have regular ‘board meetings’ where progress can be assessed and monitored.
You may think I’m taking the analogy too far, but you would be wrong. And I know one thing for sure… if you take this approach on board, you’ll work a lot harder and more effectively for ‘Your Name’ Ltd’ than you ever would for some third party employer. And when you do that, you’ll provide greater value all round, and the rewards will come harder and faster as a result.
Everyone wins in this scenario, but the biggest winner of all will be you.
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