A positive company culture is an integral part of every organization. Working in an environment that encourages growth can increase productivity, collaboration and employee retention. This is especially true for an entrepreneurial culture, which inspires workers to take risks and embrace innovation.
Ways to foster a more entrepreneurial culture
Several strategies can allow you to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset for your employees. Here are 12 ways to foster a more entrepreneurial culture.
1. Hire aspiring entrepreneurs.
Fostering an entrepreneurial culture starts with the individuals you hire. Hiring like-minded people will help create a productive and inspiring culture. Aspiring entrepreneurs are motivated, creative and innovative, which will inspire others in your company to embrace their own entrepreneurial spirit.
2. Make employees feel like partners.
Treating employees like partners with an equal say will empower every worker at every level to do their best work. Rather than dwelling on the hierarchy of employees or prioritizing managers above the staff, treat every employee like your business partner, and they will be invested in your business’s growth and success.
3. Empower and encourage employees.
Empowering and encouraging employees builds their confidence and inspires them to share their ideas. The more empowered workers you have in your business, the more opportunities you’ll reap. Your workers should feel comfortable speaking up with both ideas and concerns, so make them feel heard every time they find their voice.
4. Be open to micro-failures.
When encouraging employees, you must be accepting and open to potential failures. If you or your workers take risks, micro-failures are bound to occur. This is a sign you’re taking leaps and not holding yourself back from your potential. Allow your employees (and yourself) to fail at their pursuits so they can learn from those failures. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
5. Give incentives to employees.
Offering incentives to employees will increase productivity and loyalty to your business. Perks, such as raises, bonuses and paid time off, show your employees you care about them and their well-being and that they aren’t just “robots” to you. Express your appreciation for your workers, and they’ll match your energy by performing at their best.
Additionally, when you reward workers with incentives like mental health days or flexible hours, you allow them time to recharge and come back to work stronger.
6. Lead by example.
In business, it’s more important to be a leader than a boss. If you spend most of your time micromanaging your workers or telling them what they’re doing wrong, they’ll pick up on this energy and start to experience resentment, anxiety and even burnout. Approach management from a leadership standpoint, not a power trip.
As a leader, don’t be afraid to take risks and fail, as this shows employees it’s OK to make mistakes. Lead by example and embody the type of worker you want your employees to be.
7. Give employees a voice.
Allow your employees a chance to share their own ideas, opinions, perspectives and voices. This will encourage individuality, which can contribute to a more entrepreneurial environment where employees come together with different ideas.
8. Make it safe to share ideas.
Beyond allowing employees to find their voice in the workplace, make sure you are also receptive to their ideas and don’t shut them down. Really listen to your employees when they speak up, and consider ways to implement their input.
9. Give employees ownership.
Entrepreneurs crave a sense of ownership over their projects. Do not micromanage your employees so much that they lose autonomy over their work. Rather, trust them with tasks and assignments, even if that means letting them take risks and fail.
10. Ask them for their recommendations.
Show your employees you trust them and value their input by asking for recommendations. The more insight and ideas you get, the more opportunities you will find. An entrepreneurial culture merges and embraces various perspectives.
11. Create a startup culture.
A startup culture, much like an entrepreneurial culture, is hyperfocused on growth and innovation. For instance, this type of culture encourages managers to share resources and host weekly meetings about the company’s growth/goals, etc. By implementing a startup culture, you are automatically fostering an entrepreneurial environment, as the two go hand-in-hand.
12. Make hires draw an owl.
As a business owner, consider adopting the hiring philosophy of “drawing an owl.” Draw two circles, then draw the rest of the owl. Ask employees to draw an owl and watch as they self-direct themselves through the assignment. This silly method will teach you how confident they are in their own abilities and highlight self-sufficiency.
Traits of an entrepreneurial culture
- Innovative: Innovation is the backbone of an entrepreneurial culture, as it encourages new ideas, risk-taking and growth.
- Experimental: Experimenting in business can help foster an entrepreneurial culture that explores various opportunities. Experimenting can also save the company money before you fully commit to/invest in an idea that might not work out.
- Empowering: An empowering culture will help employees build more confidence and adapt to an entrepreneurial mindset themselves.
- Diverse: A culture that embraces diverse employees, ideas, perspectives and experiences will contribute to your entrepreneurial culture.
- Passionate: Passion is a crucial trait of entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial cultures, as it is the driving force behind productivity and high-quality performance.
A true entrepreneurial culture is one that encompasses innovation, experimentation, empowerment, diversity and passion.
The benefits of an entrepreneurial culture
Many benefits come out of fostering an entrepreneurial culture. Here are a few perks business owners and professionals shared about this type of culture.
It drives innovation and engagement.
An entrepreneurial culture is the breeding ground for innovation, and employees will feel inspired to create and share each day.
“Fostering an entrepreneurial culture within your company can be a great way to drive innovation and increase employee engagement,” said Adriana Luna Carlos, co-founder of She Rises Studios. “Companies that encourage an entrepreneurial spirit are more likely to attract innovative problem-solvers and thinkers who may just have the solution you need for your next big project.”
Additionally, workers will feel more confident in their own abilities and more willing to share with the rest of the business, which can lead to a positive snowball effect of fresh ideas.
“Creating an environment where employees feel empowered to take risks and think outside the box can lead to higher levels of creativity as well as a sense of ownership that will help keep employees motivated,” Carlos said. “The key is to make sure employees feel supported and appreciated so they don’t feel like their ideas are being shot down or ignored. By creating a company culture where new ideas are encouraged, you’ll set your organization up for success.”
It encourages top-down transparency.
Transparency is crucial in the workplace, as it builds trust in employers and alleviates the pressure of being perfect.
“Entrepreneurship comes with both highs and lows, and creating [an entrepreneurial] culture … means sharing both your successes and failures in a transparent forum,” said Mike Gullaksen, CEO of NP Digital. “It’s important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of individuals within your company while also acknowledging the obstacles you encounter along the way. By openly sharing your struggles, you help your employees understand the significance of their contributions in overcoming these challenges and fostering the growth of the company.”
Your team is better equipped to take healthy, calculated risks for growth.
An entrepreneurial culture must involve some form of risk-taking, but teams can work together to develop healthy, calculated risks more likely to succeed.
“An entrepreneurial team will openly share and discuss ideas, debate approaches and strategies without taking things personally, and embrace healthy risk-taking in the spirit of moving initiatives forward,” said Ravi Raman, an executive career coach. “Two ways to do this are to encourage deep listening and creative ideation throughout the team interactions.”
Raman stressed the importance of listening to and encouraging employees, allowing them to share ideas without worrying about retribution or critique. The more open-minded and accepting the environment you cultivate, the more ideas you will generate as a team.
Employees are more invested in your business.
The more autonomy you give employees over their work, the more inspired, confident and productive they will feel when tackling projects.
“When employees feel a sense of ownership over their job, they feel more personally invested in your business,” said Erin Banta, co-founder of Pepper Home. “They’ll succeed, you’ll succeed, and a feeling of mutual respect will naturally emerge. From there, you’ll have fostered a good corporate culture that retains employees who feel valued, and you’ll be promoting growth and development from within.”
You’ll see new, creative ideas come to life.
A common mistake business owners and managers make is micromanaging their employees, stifling any sort of creativity or innovation. In an entrepreneurial culture, employees should feel free to embrace their creativity and passions.
“When companies are too controlling, they stifle innovation and creativity,” said Gauri Manglik, CEO and co-founder of Instrumentl. “When employees feel like they can’t innovate without getting their hands slapped, they tend to go into a defensive mindset. … When employees feel like they have free reign to try new things, however, you’ll see them thrive.”
Scott Gerber contributed to this article.