Evolve or die.
While frequently cited, a google search credits British television personality Craig Charles with the phrase, precisely “It’s evolve or die, really, you have to evolve, you have to move on otherwise it just becomes stagnant.”
While Charles’ context is unclear, the quote makes perfect sense in the business world. The success of your organization is dependent upon your ability to change with the times. This rings true whether your company has 5 employees or 500, or has been in business for 5 months or 50 years.
I recently attended the Propelify Innovation Festival in Hoboken, NJ. The event, a gathering of 10,000+ entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technology professionals from around the world, featured speakers from all areas of business.
Alexis Smith, Director of Employer Branding for Anheuser-Busch, took the stage to speak about her role and the challenges she faces branding a company that’s been in existence for 165 years. One of which, she fondly jokes, is its name. (Go ahead and get the spelling right on the first try, I challenge you!)
During her 15 minute speech, I took away the following worth sharing:
- Start-ups, and long-established businesses alike, must strive to be relevant to succeed
- Never use bureaucracy as an excuse for not being innovative
- Nurture the entrepreneurial mindset of your employees, and most importantly…
- Foster an entrepreneurial culture within your organization
It seems the secret to evolving is to create an environment that encourages employees to unleash their inner entrepreneur. Below are three ways you can nurture an entrepreneurial culture:
Hire Entrepreneurial-Minded Candidates
You’ve probably heard the advice “hire for cultural fit.” In order to make innovation part of your culture, you need to seek out like-minded, forward-thinking individuals. What should you look for in a candidate? Entrepreneurs have an unrelenting curiosity for learning, are mission driven vs. project driven. They do not obsess over job titles because they recognize that there are no boundaries when it comes to getting the job done. Tailor your interview questions to identify these values in your prospects.
Don’t hesitate to assign responsibilities. Give your team members the authority to make their own decisions, and be willing to accept the consequences. By demonstrating how their efforts contribute to the big picture you make them feel ownership in your company. Nurture their growth by providing opportunities for training and education. Reward them for tackling problems and advancing the company’s interests.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Being innovative means you must be willing to take risks, and allow your employees to take risks too (within reason). It’s wise to heed Mark Zuckerberg’s advice “the biggest risk is not taking any risk…in a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Not all initiatives will succeed and you must show your team that that’s okay. Use the blip in judgement as an opportunity to learn something, and then move on.