When we think of entrepreneurs we think of energy, drive, risk-taking. We think Success! Consider the current high school and college graduates. They believe that they can start their own businesses at any time. Many of my college students, inspired by internet success, constantly tinker with ideas. They dream of riches and fame!
Yet, studies show that entrepreneurs have no age limits. In other words, entrepreneur-ing does not require youthful vigor.
A recent news story highlighted examples of retirement-age entrepreneurs. One woman created a booming business in recycling mannequins. What had started as a funky purchase – she used several mannequins to spunk up in her garden – aroused her curiosity. Where do used or old mannequins go? Her curiosity led her to purchase used mannequins. Her creativity led her to restore and resell mannequins to small businesses. Her interest led her to seek online marketing help. Her delight in working with retail businesses led her to exclaim “Why not?” She expanded the business to include a large warehouse with thousands of mannequins. She’s doing very well, thank you!
If entrepreneurship knows no age – why not tap employees’ ES? That is, their Entrepreneurial Spirit.
We know that engaged employees are more likely to enjoy their jobs. In his blog, Customer Experience Matters, Bruce Tempkin reports that engaged employees are “more committed to helping their companies succeed.” By tapping into employees’ ES you can create more successful and satisfied employees. Exponentially, increasing company success and customer happiness.
Let’s parse our mannequin entrepreneur’s story. Here are the five elements that fed her entrepreneurial fever: Interest—curiosity—discovery—creativity—delight. Can you inspire these five elements in your employees to free their ES at work? Let’s have a go at it!
INTEREST Are your employees naturally interested in your business, in your customers? No? THEN: Feed them information on products, services, customers, potential customers, competition. Educate them and let employees educate you. Have fun!
With knowledge comes interest!
CURIOSITY Do your employees ask questions about your business, about your customers? No? THEN: Create opportunities or processes that encourage questions. Prompt their thinking with “What if…” questions and scenarios. Let them create their own “What if..” scenarios. Encourage them to research. Encourage them to compare.
No progress without questions.
DISCOVERY Do your employees share what they know about your business, your customers? No? THEN: Always follow up on what employees have learned. Discuss and debate to increase perspectives, options, ideas.
AHA moments motivate!
CREATIVITY Do employees offer ideas, suggestions, programs for improvement? No? THEN: Collect ideas, challenge trite thinking, seek input. Encourage employees to work together on solutions. Don’t let ideas die and deflate employee enthusiasm. Have employees test ideas and solutions.
There is always more than one right answer!
DELIGHT Do your employees like your business, your customers, their jobs? How do they show their delight? No? THEN: Celebrate success – whether large or small. Give private handshakes as well as company applause. Acknowledge contributions. Thank employee effort. Use social gatherings to create stronger relations. Involve everyone.
Never too many celebrations!
To tap employee ES you have to create an environment that nurtures interest and curiosity, that encourages and rewards creativity, and that shares small and large victories.