KENYA | TANZANIA | UGANDA | RWANDA | ETHIOPIA | NIGERIA | GHANA | SOUTH AFRICA | MOZAMBIQUE | ZAMBIA | ANGOLA | DR CONGO
Entrepreneurship is fast becoming a trend in the business environment across various regions and divides. This has exposed different traits of entrepreneurs’ in varied settings within their respective domains.
It is not just corporate stowaways who are causing a spike in the growth of entrepreneurship. Enter Generation Y, a faction that is constantly in search of bettering their professional and personal scope of growth, one that embraces challenges and harnesses risk-taking avenues.
An entrepreneur is faced with various challenges whilst executing his / her idea to start a venture. This is an exhaustive process of ensuring formalities are met and catered for. A long and winded way is cast on ensuring that vision and mission are well aligned to pave way for the modeling of the idea.
It is therefore imperative that entrepreneurs’ possess not only sound business acumen, but also well-grounded research with industry specific knowledge to complement their entrepreneurial business management skills.
Assuming the affirmative, businesses could grow at a healthy rate during the start-up stage or boasting of a northwards curve during the growth-phase. Growing businesses face several challenges - as a business grows - different problems and opportunities demand different solutions, hence reaching out for mitigation strategies. What may have worked for other businesses, may not work for you and avoiding ill-fated norms enable to turn around a good idea into a great business.
Growing scope of work
Tasks, challenges and responsibilities increase in a fast growing entrepreneurial organization. This calls for external support, preferably, employees who demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and work habits. Entrepreneurs should look for self-starting individuals like themselves who understand the challenges and potential of working for an entrepreneurial endeavor. An entrepreneur or the management in charge must work diligently to recognize, identify and attract such an employee during the recruitment process.
These employees could be in form of part-time or full-time employees’ or resorting to an outsourcing function for specific business tasks such as Human Resources, Finance, Operations or Information Technology.
You'll want to delegate responsibility for particular areas to different specialists, or appoint staff to strengthen your enterprise. At times, some entrepreneurs accounting for their own limitations even appoint someone else to act as managing director or chairman. Aside from hiring additional labor force, you'll need managers or "ideas" people to help you run the venture smoothly whilst you’re on the look out for other business opportunities.
This will enable you as an entrepreneur to focus on the overall mission and objectives whilst resulting in efficiency of tasks and attainment of goals as planned. As you start tackling a new opportunity, someone who has experience of that activity can be vital.
The challenge of hiring an entrepreneurial mindset employee
A common conundrum faced during the hiring process is the mindset of the employee. At times, you will find among the applicants for such positions, an entrepreneurial-minded person, who sometimes pose a dilemma on whether you should hire them or not. This could translate to an indirect threat in form of “idea replication.”
An entrepreneurial-minded employee is commonly described as someone who takes initiative and works effectually on his / her tasks without much intervention or guidance from managers. Such individuals possess the ability to deal with risk, being result oriented, have growth potential, multi-tasking ability and being a team player.
Despite the impressive traits, some entrepreneurs’ guard themselves from such employees due to the fear of learning their business processes, copying their concepts, and eventually competing with them.
Weighing pros and cons of hiring an entrepreneurial employee
If the benefit quotient is anything to go by, the entrepreneurial mindset brings in creativity that would be paramount in exploring new avenues in terms of product development, channel distribution or projects. The individual becomes an asset to the venture. At times, you may be inclined to hiring someone smarter than you - be it in capability or execution.
Despite the plaudits, one should always be cautious. The entrepreneur has to ensure he / she does not sacrifice macro-level supervision. This is to protect intellectual property of the business, related competitive advantage in processes or other sensitive aspects.
What are the factors to consider in hiring an entrepreneurial employee?
Few entrepreneurial employees’ steal ideas for personal advancement and aren't really entrepreneurial but rather looking out for themselves, to the detriment of their employers.
For mid-sized to large enterprises, you would consider such a mindset as a windfall to the overall management of the business leading to innovative thinking and creativity especially in a managerial role.
But for startup enterprises, hiring an entrepreneurial-minded employee might pose a substantial risk. This is because he / she may learn the tricks of the trade and eventually end up as a competing point.
Hence, it is critical to be able to identify and clarify the potential hire’s perspective by leveraging the objectives of the employee towards long-term goals of the venture. This is key in balancing the benefits of foresight and sense of responsibility to the challenges of idea replication and learning of business processes.
How can an Entrepreneur benefit towards nurturing employee growth?
As a business owner myself, one of the most important parts of my business is my team - the hard-working people who challenge me to drive the company to new levels of success.
A good case study is an entrepreneurial venture (ICT related) that grew exponentially resulting in the need of employing staff with concurrent expansion to other locations within the East African region. A key risk posed by the founder was imitation from some of the tech-savvy employees’ who had sound knowledge of the industry, gauging opportunities and challenges within the industry.
A key recommendation was not only instituting staff welfare mechanisms, but also devising an inherent motivation and reward framework. The objective of the framework was not only to harness performance, but also nurture and enhance employee satisfaction and participating in key decisions of the company. However, performance management amongst other organizational methods is not the only means.
A savvy entrepreneur will find ways to keep worker enthused and dedicated to the tasks at hand. Here are some suggestions where entrepreneurs’ can grow to successful ventures by catering for employee growth in the modus operandi of the business:
Professional Growth – a key concern to any potential hire or employee, growth at any workplace is of importance especially in learning new ways and methods of doing things in a better way.
Engaging with your employee – several entrepreneurs’ believe the fact that achieving goals, objectives and revenue projections seal the fate of the company. Incorrect! You will be surprised to learn of an employee feeling disregarded caused by a level of disengagement. A simple "How are you?" means so much.
Freedom and fluidity – its not always about hiring the perfect fit for a specific role in the start up world, but letting the employee act and focus on what he / she is passionate about whilst contributing towards the business.
There’s more after work hours – an organization that I recently worked with, benefited greatly from after hours of work where small retreats or drinks allowed for a relaxed ambience where everyone could say anything to promote feedback and oneness.
Create entrepreneurs – one of the other recommendations was to let employees develop and work on a project of their choice, but of benefit to the company. This will not only improve morale but also exhibit problems or opportunities you never knew existed!
Reward employees where necessary – it is always a great motivator for an employee to be rewarded monetarily. However, rewards can also include verbal recognition, employee perks or giving promotions when due that motivate one to scale greater heights, possibly becoming a key player within the venture and growing up to a partner.
Managing expectations – I have observed that sitting down and drawing a plan of action is essential in ensuring not only the entrepreneur but also the employee is on track. This will also encourage transparency that is vital in attainment of pre-set objectives.
Modeling behavior – one of the observations during my consultancy with the ICT business was employee behavior. Staff logged on for longer work hours, ensuring that commitment was in line with their founder’s (entrepreneur) level of concern. This was only possible because of the entrepreneur setting a precedent. This showed abundance of motivation and drive towards steering the venture towards scalable heights.
Delegation – a key area of empowerment to exercise with entrepreneurs is assigning able and motivated personnel with a sense of ownership to the projects and enterprise.
Thus, an entrepreneur should realize at a point of time that some functions require specialist expertise such as HR or Finance. At this juncture, it is necessary to develop an environment that encourages employee growth and happiness. As entrepreneurs or business people, we have to constantly remember that people are the greatest asset to a business, hence promoting their personal and professional development will only complement the overall objectives of the enterprise.
Nabeel Hassanali is a Coach, Trainer and Chief Executive of Genesis Consult Ltd (www.genesisconsult.net). He can be reached at nabeel.hassanali [at] genesisconsult.net or @AfricanGenesis on Twitter.