I love this article by Jen Prosek on cultivating an army of intrapreneurs. The term intrapreneur is the buzz word in big companies right now. What stands out to me is she is talking about entrepreneurs creating a company culture that encourages intrapreneurs.
So often entrepreneurs find they are not only the one in charge, but also the one cleaning the bathrooms at the end of the day.
It can be exhausting. In the early stages of your business you might not have the resources to hire the people you need to do the jobs that must be done, so YOU pick up the slack. This is why the concept of intrapreneurship is especially vital to early stage companies–it is much easier to get the workload done when you have multiple people invested in the outcome, not just fulfilling their job description.
What are some of the key steps to setting up a company of intrapreneurs?
Hire people who passionately believe in your mission.
Talk about it in the interviews. Talk about the big picture after you hire. When Walt Disney built Disney World he had the team build the castle higher than other parts of the park and first complete it first. Why? So everyone would remember the mission as they built everything else!
Understand the 2 or 3 key things your company must do right to succeed, and make sure everyone on the team aims there.
Someone in your marketing staff needs to know if repeat customers is critical to your profit model that they don’t oversell or sell to the wrong type of customer–creating high customer support issues and low repeat sales, while appearing to be doing their job.
Give people the latitude to make decisions, make mistakes, and propose ideas outside of their area.
Although you might think it is more efficient for people to stay focused on what you pay them to do; often, you can save significant money and time when your employees are looking for solutions to problems whether the problem is in their area, or not.
Create financial incentives to match your goals.
Make sure how you pay people points them in the direction you need them headed. I like to have incentives everyone can participate in as well as incentives specific to someone’s job area.
Make sure you business partners and investors believe in your employment philosophy.
Nothing can stop you faster from achieving your goals than to be out of allignment with people who have a vested interst in the financial outcome of your business. and this is especially true if you are venturing out into new business models like intrapreneurship. Make sure you get buy-in from people who could derail your company culture; or better yet, form partnerships with people who are a good fit for your business style from the beginning.