The rapidly changing marketplace and the challenges the global economy faces in the next 20 years are immeasurable. Since the age of the digital revolution, the employment landscape has shifted drastically. The competitive landscape across industries is marked by intense competition amongst existing players and the arrival of many focused competitors. With the rapid technological progress, employers are increasingly evolving and utilising technology and employing fewer people whilst, simultaneously, the population growth rises. Any company not continually developing, acquiring and adapting to new technological advances and to changing business environments may be unintentionally putting themselves out of business. Thus arises the need for companies to become more entrepreneurial.
Entrepreneurship has become big business. The volume of newly registered businesses is rising. ‘Enterprise’ is now a loose term – anyone can be an entrepreneur.
Isn’t it a contradiction in terms to be an entrepreneur in a large corporation? First things first, let’s take a look at the definition of an entrepreneur.
What is an entrepreneur?
Is an entrepreneur someone willing to take more risks? Do they start and build successful businesses? Potentially yes, but an entrepreneur does not need to start their own business. Many who work for others are seen as entrepreneurs in their organisation. No matter the definition, being an entrepreneur isn’t easy.
What makes an entrepreneur?
There are no definite answers. However, they do share particular characteristics in common which span across personal and interpersonal skills, creative and critical thinking skills and practical skills. Some examples of these are
Personal: initiative, optimism, vision, desire for control, drive and persistence, risk tolerance, resilience
Interpersonal: leadership and motivation, communication, listening, personal relations, negotiation, ethics
Creative and critical thinking: creative thinking, problem solving, recognising opportunities
Practical: goal setting, planning and organising, decision making, business/opportunity specific knowledge
There is no “right” set of characteristics for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
But, wasn’t it mavericks who sparked many financial blow ups? It’s important to distinguish between entrepreneurs and gamblers. Gamblers are risk takers, seeking big payouts, whereas entrepreneurs are risk quantifiers and risk reducers. True entrepreneurs want to do new things, create something from scratch and solve problems, motivated by the success of their achievement.
What is entrepreneurship?
The essence of entrepreneurship is innovation. The motivation for entrepreneurship lies in the urge to identify sources of existing and emerging customer dissatisfaction and developing solutions to eliminate them.
What is “Corporate Entrepreneurship”?
The notion of “corporate entrepreneurship” refers to the development of new ideas and opportunities within large or established businesses. Individuals inside organisations pursue opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control. For existing firms, corporate entrepreneurship includes:
In times like these, it is crucial for large corporate businesses – traditionally averse to risk-taking – to innovate and be as flexible as possible, ready to change and develop rapidly to accommodate the shifting needs of their customers and market as a whole. As well as innovation, key features of start-up ventures – such as their pursuit of rapid growth, flexibility and innovation – are vital for large corporations. This pushes larger companies to enhance their overall competitiveness in the marketplace and to take calculated and beneficial risks and improve their organisational profitability.
What can you do to foster entrepreneurial spirit in big businesses?
Many companies have succeeded in their endeavour to foster entrepreneurship and have developed new approaches to innovate and to create new businesses and achieve profitable growth. At the same time, a larger question is the challenge of sustaining such changes, both in growing and mature organisations, particularly when the charismatic leadership that inspired the change disappears from the scene.
Many organisations lose their entrepreneurial spirit once they cross the start-up phase. The whole organisation should constantly breathe an air of innovation and excitement. Businesses must create systems that focus the attention of individual employees on innovation and direct behaviours towards entrepreneurial ends. Renewal is crucial, as whilst existing capabilities provide the basis for the current performance of a company, they are likely to constrain future ability to compete. Institutionalising elements of entrepreneurship is crucial for maintaining a business’ competitive edge.
Our Managing Director, Patrick Egan, says: “Entrepreneurs in corporate business can definitely help improve competitive positioning and transform corporations, their markets and industries. However, this is only when opportunities for value-creating innovations are developed and exploited. This does require a new way of thinking for corporate structures.“
This is part one of an ongoing debate about entrepreneurs in corporate structures.