Published on 31st March 2020
Some very notable success stories have risen out of periods broadly known as “downturns”.
We have all been confronted by the quickly evolving, unprecedented precautions that have needed to be taken worldwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There have been huge economic effects, whole industries have been shut down and while in all this uncertainty like a piece of coal, only under pressure can diamonds be created.
Out of struggle there is always a tale of success, and I write this only as a reminder of that glimmer of hope that better times are coming.
Companies such as Uber and AirBnB both spawned after the GFC in 2008 and even Apple (as we know it today) rose out of the Y2K and tech crunch in the early 2000s.
When old business models are under strain or proved to be outdated, creativity and necessity drive new revenue streams and operational improvements. Remote and flexible working might be the biggest and most immediate impact of these most recent challenges, generally though, agile business operations allow ideas to be embraced in a nimble manner and overheads to be kept low in tricky times. With more organisations having their staff work from home, there is huge growth in this area. Businesses don’t currently have another option and in many cases, they are simply just having to make it work. They need to find creative ways to boost staff morale, train team members remotely, combating loneliness and tackling the emotional needs of their employees.
While recessions impact smaller firms the hardest, bizarrely, it’s also probably true that these same conditions allow new small businesses, start-ups and burgeoning business ideas and models to gain a foothold. Entrepreneurs clearly have an eye for opportunity and view the world around them with positivity. While there are several preconditions that allow them to flourish most easily, the passion, drive and creativity will commonly overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles.
What makes a great entrepreneur? And how do you encourage this kind of thinking in the current environment?
If the 80s and 90s celebrated the blue chips like IBM, Exon and GE as the zenith of the business world, then the entrepreneurs that help shape (and constantly re-shape) today’s business landscape are surely the modern-day equivalent. The word entrepreneur is now associated with those who start their own business, those who run a side-hustle outside their 9-5 corporate gig and it sits as a self-appointed badge on many (possibly too many) LinkedIn profile pages. Some of the accomplishments of those who’ve truly earned the right to be titled “entrepreneurs” are quite remarkable. From Zuckerberg to Musk and the Atlassian lads more locally, the ability to exercise innovation, imagination and own the delivery of concepts in the workplace is now considered far more sexy than the opportunity to simply climb a corporate ladder. Assuming we won’t all take the leap and create the next big thing, how can we integrate a little bit of their world into the mainstream workplace on a good day?
Firstly, it's important that organisations create the right foundation on which entrepreneurs can flourish. Fear, shame or undue pressure can play no part of the business culture.
Hiring the correct mix of entrepreneurial spirit and idea generators, combined with those who can work adaptably thereafter, will yield the best results.
Empowering and informing.
Trust that ideas, passionately generated, will be executed with as much care. Don’t put blockers in at the delivery phase.
Recognise and reward those taking (calculated) risks.
Encouraging the sharing of ideas and connecting those with entrepreneurial flair to the necessary resources, will inspire confidence and trust.
Fun, downtime and fresh.
Finding ways to keep the working environment enjoyable, rewarding and inspiring will be important. Even the most driven and entrepreneurial of team members will burn out if suitable outlets to recharge are not found. As I’m sure you’re aware we’re currently not in an ideal world. The world has drastically changed, so quickly we’re still trying to catch our breath. It's important to remember entrepreneurship isn’t exclusively practiced in growth markets.
So what is it that entrepreneurship/entrepreneurs offer their businesses in times of economic strain?
The challenge still exists, entrepreneurs need to be given runway to create and deliver. Faced with tough business conditions, management need to be transparent on the firm’s current state and appetite for risk, then allowing entrepreneurs to experiment and flourish.
Irrespective of the operating conditions, entrepreneurship will always have a part to play in the success of a business. Hiring entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of experimentation can shield a business from threats, as well as help ensure opportunities are identified and capitalised. In a time of constant unprecedented change, we all need to be a little creative.
If you’re needing advice or looking to hire please reach out to me click here.