In Today's World, How Critical Is an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Career Progression?
A recent MAAG [Marketing Agencies Action Group] GreenJam event asked the question: how critical to career progression is having an entrepreneurial mindset? As someone who thinks of himself as a bit of an entrepreneur, I set off to see what answers might arise.
In the company of 40 other agency folk all determined to get ahead, the evening proved insightful…
First off, there was an inspiring panel of entrepreneurs all building successful careers and businesses while turbo charging entrepreneurial mindsets across their teams. Geometry UK CEO, Michelle Whelan; BPL Managing Partner, Chris Dry; Facebook University Recruiter, Emily Horton; and Ignis Managing Director, Stephanie Whitaker all took part.
It became clear very quickly that you won’t get ahead by being a couch potato.
“All businesses need ambitious, inquisitive people who are prepared for change. And happy and confident people to lead innovation,” observed Michelle Whelan, leading the conversation. “Individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets are often drawn to opportunities, innovation and new value creation, all of which can lead to career-defining projects."
So, what is this big deal with business innovation?
Michelle spelt it out: Business innovation matters for one simple reason: value. For any business to thrive, it’s crucial to be continually innovating and improving. Successful business innovation means finding new revenue opportunities, optimising existing channels and, ultimately, generating higher profits. It also gives companies advantage over their competitors.
And entrepreneurs are needed no matter how big the business.
Uber, Airbnb, Mailchimp, Twitter, Snapchat and many more famously started as sole icons of entrepreneurial mindsets.
But companies achieving scale are powered by a set of values and workforce that are naturally entrepreneurial. That’s why Domino’s and Amazon are both listed by Entrepreneur as the most innovative companies of 2018.
Domino’s, with its cool digital makeover, is creating an e-commerce experience far exceeding what you’d expect from a pizza company. Its latest: partnership with Ford on pilot programmes to test self-driving cars for pizza delivery.
Amazon: The $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods. Amazon Studios. Two-hour delivery services. Drones. Alexa. 100 million paying Prime members. Amazon has woven itself into every corner of the world - all while posting a profit for 12 straight quarters.
So, what exactly should we be doing to cultivate this entrepreneurial road to career success?
Here are a few tips from our panellists on their own paths to glory:
"It's not good enough to have a good idea, it has to have an upside for our clients’ business. It can't be a solution looking for a problem.” People who have built careers are firmly focused on commercial success, not just blue-sky thinking.
"I've never hired anyone who said, 'I want to be an entrepreneur'. Do something you love, and tell me about it. It's about delivering.” I think this is the modern-day version of the adage “don’t tell me you’re funny, tell me a joke!” If you want to further your career: Be innovative. Take risks. Put yourself out there.
“One of the main things young people today are looking for is recognition. It's what fuels the entrepreneurial mindset.” Ask yourself, what are you looking for in a role and how will that role allow you to be more entrepreneurial and gain the recognition you’re after? You might not take the expected next-step that way. Consider roles that firmly put you outside your comfort zone yet have the potential to achieve more satisfaction and recognition than traditional or expected ones.
“Embrace failure.” It’s often said and often laughed off as cliché. However, working in a place where it’s safe for people to fail, and talking about the benefits of learning from failing is critical for nurturing that entrepreneurial mindset. Failure really does become an opportunity to learn and doing so “helps demonstrate to others that this is a safe space to fail”, as one of our panellists noted.
With this new way of thinking buzzing in my mind – I’m now off to tackle a few briefs, thanks to Michelle, Chris, Emily and Stephanie.
James Cahill, is senior art director at Geometry UK