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How to Be More Entrepreneurial at Work

Dictionary entry of the word entrepreneur.

When it comes to making a difference, it seems that there is never enough time or resources to try new ideas or programs. Instead, we focus on the day-to-day and try to make the most of what we have to ensure the communities we serve get what they need to thrive. But are we selling ourselves short by thinking that new ideas require a huge influx of cash?

Instead of hoping for more resources and time, try thinking like an entrepreneur.

In an article on Forbes, author Dan Schawbel talks about how the definition of an entrepreneur is changing: “A major shift is taking place, replacing the typical definition of an entrepreneur — ‘someone who starts a company’ — with a newer definition, one based on the innate mindset of a person who sees opportunities and pursues them.”

Looking at entrepreneurs in this way means that there is room for an entrepreneurial spirit while at work. In fact, many are increasingly exploring what it means to be an “intrapreneur” or someone who innovates within an organization.

By thinking like an entrepreneur—with an eye toward new ideas and a passion for making them come to life—and acting like one in appropriate situations, you can set yourself apart as a leader within your organization. Here’s how to do that.

Analyze your work situation

Before you set out to launch a new program or take steps on your new idea, understand the level of entrepreneurship your organization encourages. Look around and see how others at your organization act and what results and projects are praised. Over the past couple of years, more and more businesses are embracing an entrepreneurial spirit among their employees, so make sure yours is one of them.

If your organization doesn’t seem that keen on taking risks like an entrepreneur, talk to your manager about ways you can step up. Is there a project you can oversee or an idea you can focus on for a couple months? By finding small ways to get more involved, you can grow your entrepreneurial attitude and help foster a spirit of openness at your organization.

Find a project (or passion) to focus on

One of the reasons why entrepreneurs often start companies is that they have something they feel passionate about and want to see come to life. At work, a potential project or passion might reveal itself in many ways: a recurring problem or challenge; a small program that’s showing promise; or an interest/idea of yours that you think could help your organization and you’d love to try.

Once you identify the project or passion you’d like to explore, stick to it and explore how it could grow keeping in mind all of the various constraints (budget, time, etc) within your organization. Lean Impact has great information on

Get comfortable with risks

Entrepreneurs are known for taking big risks and getting big rewards. While this might sound intimidating, taking a risk every now and then might not be the worst thing in the world—especially if it brings back big rewards for your organization.

Another article on Forbes addresses this subject and provides four ways you can embrace risk:

  • Broaden your observations beyond what you seek and beyond the obvious details before you, and enlarge your field of opportunities.
  • Meet good vision with consistent execution every day to build a stable, growing pipeline of opportunities.
  • Cultivate the most promising opportunities by giving them the right amount of focus and attention. Don’t let the best opportunities vanish by wasting energy on opportunities with limited potential.
  • Make generosity a part of your purpose, and an integral part of how you manage opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

Sometimes it’s not about managing or launching something, but asking questions and sparking conversations that shift your organization’s POV when it comes to exploring new ideas.

Not comfortable speaking up? On Harvard Business Review, Meredith Fineman discusses this, highlighting three ways you can still cultivate an entrepreneurial attitude: having a deep network, not necessarily a wide one; working alongside an extroverted partner; and pacing yourself in situations when you are out and about.

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by Kimberly Maul

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