Five Characteristics of an Entrepreneurial Business

The Baby Boomers – about 70 million of them – are poised to make quite an impact on the economy. A “silver tsunami” of retiring business owners has started, and with it, one of the biggest changeovers of private companies in U.S. history. Thousands of businesses are wrestling with issues like management transition, successor development and ownership transfer. But working on these transition issues may not amount to much if you haven’t taken steps to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive. 

There’s no question that many private companies were founded by people with extraordinary vision and passion. But where do things stand in your business today? Take a look at these characteristics and answer the questions for yourself. Just how entrepreneurial is your business?

Creativity
In some companies, there’s an unspoken belief that creativity is reserved for writers and musicians. In others, there’s an underlying mindset of “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Either of these attitudes can stifle creativity, which is a precursor to innovation, which is essential to entrepreneurship. Creativity comes in many forms – the ability to generate multiple approaches to a problem, having heightened perceptions or awareness, seeing things differently or seeing different things. Which of those creative talents are present in your business? What are you doing to develop them?

Growth Orientation
Think for a moment:  In the last year, what specific plans have you made to pursue a new area of growth for your business? How motivated are your leaders and managers to pursue strategic growth opportunities? An entrepreneurial company can be both prudent and opportunistic – they’re not mutually exclusive – and both involve an orientation to growth. How prudent is it, after all, to stay in the same place you were last year?

Adaptability
In an owner-managed business, there are many good reasons to honor a founder and respect past traditions. However, this must be balanced with the need to adapt to changes in the environment, the marketplace and inside your workforce. When was the last time your company ventured out of its comfort zone? Is your business a model of flexibility and enthusiasm for change? Are you?

Future Focus
A majority of founder-led companies say they want to perpetuate the business for another generation of leaders. They have long-term vision, yet paradoxically, many fail to plan for the future. How committed are you to a long-term, forward-looking business strategy? What concrete plans have you made that demonstrate your commitment? 

Self-Determination
Great entrepreneurs are determined to win. They love what they do, do whatever it takes, and good or bad, are willing to live with the results. But entrepreneurs can unintentionally dampen entrepreneurial spirits by being overinvolved. The best way to protect the next generation is to encourage self-determined behavior. Do your next generation leaders set challenging goals? Do you allow them to make choices and experience the consequences? 

If your answers to the questions above indicate that you need to rekindle the entrepreneurial spark, what steps will you take? If entrepreneurship is alive and well in your business, we invite you to share your successes and insights with others here.



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