Entrepreneurship is fast becoming a trend in Kenya across various regions and divides. This has exposed different traits of entrepreneurs in varied settings within their respective domains.
It is not just corporate stowaways who are causing a spike in the growth of entrepreneurship. Enter Generation Y, a faction that is constantly in search of bettering their professional and personal scope of growth.
An entrepreneur is faced with various challenges whilst executing his / her idea. This is an exhaustive process of ensuring formalities are met and catered for.
It is therefore imperative that entrepreneurs possess not only sound business acumen, but also well-grounded research with industry specific knowledge to complement their entrepreneurial business management skills.
Assuming the affirmative, businesses could grow at a healthy rate during the start-up stage or boasting of a northwards curve during the growth-phase. Growing businesses face several challenges. As a business grows, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions, hence reaching out for mitigation strategies. What may have worked for other businesses may not work for you.
Growing scope of work
Tasks, challenges and responsibilities increase in a fast growing entrepreneurial organization. This calls for external support, preferably, employees who demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and work habits. Entrepreneurs should look for self-starting individuals like themselves who understand the challenges and potential of working for an entrepreneurial endeavor.
These employees could be in form of part-time or full-time employees or resorting to an outsourcing function for specific business tasks such as human resources, finance, operations or information technology.
You’ll want to delegate responsibility for particular areas to different specialists, or appoint staff to strengthen your enterprise. At times, some entrepreneurs accounting for their own limitations even appoint someone else to act as managing director or chairman. Aside from hiring additional labor force, you’ll need managers or “idea” people to help you run the venture smoothly whilst you’re on the look out for other business opportunities.
This will enable you as an entrepreneur to focus on the overall mission and objectives whilst resulting in efficiency of tasks and attainment of goals as planned. As you start tackling a new opportunity, someone with the experience of that activity can be vital.
The challenge of hiring an entrepreneurial mindset employee
A common challenge faced during the hiring process is the mindset of the employee. At times, you will find among the applicants an entrepreneurial-minded person, who sometimes pose a dilemma on whether you should hire them or not. This could translate to an indirect threat in form of “idea replication.”
An entrepreneurial-minded employee is commonly described as someone who takes initiative and works effectively on their tasks without much guidance from managers.
Despite the impressive traits, some entrepreneurs guard themselves from such employees fearing they may learn their business processes, copying their concepts, and eventually competing with them.
Weighing pros and cons of hiring an entrepreneurial employee
If the benefit quotient is anything to go by, the entrepreneurial mindset brings in creativity that would be paramount in exploring new avenues in terms of product development, channel distribution or projects. The individual becomes an asset to the venture. At times, you may be inclined to hire someone smarter than you.
Despite the plaudits, one should always be cautious. The entrepreneur has to ensure he / she does not sacrifice macro-level supervision.
What are the factors to consider in hiring an entrepreneurial employee?
Few entrepreneurial employees imitate ideas for personal advancement and aren’t really entrepreneurial but rather looking out for themselves, to the detriment of their employers.
For mid-sized to large enterprises, you would consider such a mindset as a windfall to the overall management of the business leading to innovative thinking and creativity especially in a managerial role.
But for startup enterprises, hiring an entrepreneurial-minded employee might pose a substantial risk. This is because he / she may learn the tricks of the trade and eventually end up as a competing point.
How can an entrepreneur benefit towards nurturing employee growth?
As a business owner myself, one of the most important parts of my business is my team.
A good case study is an entrepreneurial venture (ICT related) that grew exponentially resulting in the need to employ staff with expansion to other locations within the East African region. A key risk posed by the founder was imitation from some of the tech-savvy employees with sound knowledge of the industry.
A key recommendation was not only instituting staff welfare mechanisms, but also devising an inherent motivation and reward framework. However, performance management amongst other organizational methods is not the only means.
Here are some suggestions to help entrepreneurs grow into successful ventures by catering for their employees’ growth:
§ Professional Growth – growth at any workplace is an important concern to any potential hire especially in learning new ways and methods of doing things in a better way.
§ Engaging with your employee – several entrepreneurs believe the fact that achieving goals, objectives and revenue projections seal the fate of the company. Incorrect! A simple “How are you?” means so much.
§ Freedom and fluidity – its not always about hiring the perfect fit for a specific role in the start up world, but letting the employee act and focus on what he / she is passionate about whilst contributing towards the business.
§ There’s more after work hours – an organization that I recently worked with, benefited greatly from after hours of work where small retreats or drinks allowed for a relaxed ambience where everyone could say anything to promote feedback and oneness.
§ Create intrapreneurs – one of the other recommendations was to let employees develop and work on a project of their choice, but of benefit to the company. This will not only improve morale but also exhibit problems or opportunities you never knew existed!
§ Reward employees where necessary – it is always a great motivator for an employee to be rewarded monetarily. However, rewards can also include verbal recognition, employee perks or giving promotions when due.
§ Managing expectations – I have observed that sitting down and drawing a plan of action is essential in ensuring not only the entrepreneur but also the employee is on track. This will also encourage transparency that is vital in attainment of pre-set objectives.
§ Modeling behavior – one of the observations during my consultancy with the ICT business was employee behavior. Staff logged on for longer work hours, ensuring that commitment was in line with their founder’s (entrepreneur) level of concern. This was only possible because of the entrepreneur setting a precedent.
§ Delegation – a key area of empowerment to exercise with entrepreneurs is assigning able and motivated personnel with a sense of ownership to the projects and enterprise.
As entrepreneurs or business people, we have to constantly remember that people are the greatest asset to a business.
Nabeel H is a business builder possessing extensive experience in consulting and training start-ups, medium sized businesses and leading businesses in Africa across various sectors. Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in the region, Nabeel was recognized in 2013 amongst the leading ‘Under 30 Entrepreneurs’ in Tanzania. To learn of his work, visit www.nabeelh.com or follow him on Twitter @AfricanGenesis
By Nabeel Hassanali