Joyce had always been an indifferent student. Her grades didn’t match her intelligence. But Joyce was the go-to student whenever the school needed to raise money. She had an innate ability of knowing how to appeal to donors. She was also masterful at getting other students involved.
When Joyce went to college, she formed her own business. She involved classmates in a polling business which was very successful in gauging student opinions on issues of importance to faculty researchers, local businesses, candidates for office, etc. The business was so successful that Joyce graduated from college debt free even though she had no scholarships.
When Joyce began her career, her first assignment was “to find things we can improve.” She loved the assignment and the freedom she was given. After a month, she and the other new hires had a meeting with the organization’s leadership to report on what they had been doing. Joyce’s report clearly stood out. When asked what it would take to implement her ideas, she responded: “They have already been implemented, and the operation has increased its performance by 23%. The leadership team was taken aback.
From that moment, Joyce’s career took off. The only direction that she needed to be given was “make it happen.” Over time, Joyce became involved in both the sales and operations side of the business. Her insights on customer buying habits were incredible. As a result of her success in increasing sales, Joyce was given profit and loss responsibility for an entire division of the company. She was 29 years old.
When we think of being entrepreneurial, the image that comes to mind is someone who creates their own business. You can be entrepreneurial within an existing organization as well, as Joyce did. In fact, employers are increasingly looking for entrepreneurial traits in those that they hire. What does it take to be entrepreneurial within an organization? Here are some traits:
- An innate understanding of what the customer wants (both inside and outside the organization)
- A boldness in making things happen
- A personal drive for success and an accompanying high energy level
- Self confidence and a willingness to forge ahead when others may be hesitant
- A focus on results over process or protocols
Not every organization appreciates entrepreneurs, but those organizations are often finding themselves struggling to adapt to changing markets. Entrepreneurial types can be hard to manage and reclaim if they are not given the freedom they need to be successful. Perhaps the greatest business challenge of the 21st century is how to identify, support, and retain those who will continuously push for new ways of doing business.
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“Passion, creativity, and resilience are the most crucial skills in business. If you’ve got these, you’re ready to embark on the journey.” – Joe Malone (British entrepreneur)