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The Employed Entrepreneur Dilemma – Can You Really Recruit An Entrepreneur ?

The employed entrepreneur dilemma – can you really recruit an entrepreneur ?

The employed entrepreneur dilemma - can you really recruit an entrepreneur ? Rebecca Jones Motivational Speaker It’s becoming increasingly popular to recruit someone in with enterprise skills.  If you have recruited in a business development person and thought “Mmm, that’s not enough, we need more,” this could be the solution for you.  Or could it? Can you really recruit an entrepreneur and if you do, will it solve your problems or add to them?

Recruiting someone into your organisation who has an enterprising mindset can help if you need to look at new ways of moving forward.  Maybe you feel it’s time you spread your wings and took on new challenges, developed a new aspect to your business or offered additional services through your charity.  Certainly bringing in someone new can help.  They arrive with fresh ideas, enthusiasm and the excitement of a new challenge. but do they need to be enterprising and what does that actually mean?

Last year I saw an advert for a charity which said “Wanted – an entrepreneur able to bring their ideas to a charity in need of some reinvigoration.”  Excellent, So what they are now asking for is someone who believes they are an entrepreneur, but hasn’t been able to make it as one to join them.  Surely everyone can see what the issue is there.  Perhaps what they really wanted was someone who was business orientated or creative or someone who fancied the challenge of developing new income streams.

What’s in a name?

When I speak at conferences for business owners I often ask “How many of you call yourself an entrepreneur?” Although some do, the vast majority say they don’t tend to call themselves an entrepreneur.  In other words, they feel it is a name which should be bestowed on them rather than a name they give themselves.  In addition, some feel the word suggests someone who is out to make lots of money for themselves and that possibly that’s done in a less than principled way.

If that’s the case maybe the sort of person who would consider themselves to be an entrepreneur may not be the sort of person you want to recruit into your organisation.

Why did you want to recruit an entrepreneur anyway?

I’m guessing that if you have been considering employing an entrepreneur your organisation is either struggling or needs some new ideas.  It’s likely that’s you’re looking for someone who is a bit of a self-starter and possibly has experience of developing new ideas and taking them to market.  The question is do they need to have done this for themselves or for someone else?  I’m currently interviewing people who are enterprising in their place of work. Whilst I haven’t concluded my research yet, early indications show that those who are successful tend to be used to being employed in whichever situation, corporate, charity, government etc but have a set of skills which their employer values around enterprise.  Those I have spoken to (and I include myself in here) that have been self employed and then go back into being employed often find it harder to negotiate the organisation’s structures to ensure their ideas work.

For me, when I was recruited into a University over eight years ago to be an intrapreneur for a specific department, they stated that they wanted me because I would bring business acumen and quickly be able to bring in income.  By then I already had more than 15 years of business ownership experience and no experience of working within a huge organisation with its internal politics and systems.  The frustrations began on both sides very quickly with me needing quick decisions, forgetting to ask for approval and speeding forward with ideas and projects.  They needed proof my ideas would work, not my gut instinct. They found my speed to move things forward scary, yet equally wanted bigger and quicker financial results and my lack of keeping to systems and processes became a daily battle.

Don’t recruit an entrepreneur recruit someone with…

Time and time again I hear stories where organisations have recruited an entrepreneur and it hasn’t worked how they wanted it to.  My first question is always how did you want it to work?  One of my clients told me that they had a nightmare with one entrepreneur they recruited saying he was too ambitious and money focused.  So I asked what skills did you recruit for someone who would work really hard to achieve their goals (what like someone ambitious?) and someone who would bring in much needed income fast before the business collapsed (Ah, you mean someone who is driven by or focused on money)?  They could see straight away what i was saying. Well, it was difficult not to.  I asked them really what the problem was.  They realised the problem was they felt they were losing control. He had come in, made changes, did things often without asking and he made them feel they should have been doing these things all along.

Before you recruit an entrepreneur consider what it is you really need.  What skills are you looking for and what boundaries do you need in place to make sure everyone can do their best and not feel they are causing an issue?  With my clients we spoke about having a process for decision making, some boundaries and regular meetings to ensure everyone felt on board and completely in control.

What skills should you be looking for when you recruit an entrepreneur?

In my opinion you need to be looking for a varied skill set and business ownership really doesn’t need to be one of them.  Below are my top skills for intraprenuers:

  • Business skills (some knowledge of how a business is structured and run)
  • Self-starter
  • Have a growth mindset
  • Be customer focused
  • Able to take new ideas and make them a reality
  • Resilient
  • Have a collaborative nature
  • Leadership and motivation skills to get others on board
  • great communication skills
  • People skills
  • sticking powers – keeping at it however hard it gets
  • Resourceful

People with these skills make great intrepreneurs.  That doesn’t mean they would make great entrepreneurs.

If you would like more enterprise in your business and need help in bringing in the right skills or identifying them in your current employees, call Rebecca on 02921 175020



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