How to Turn Your Small Business Employees Into Entrepreneurs

September 14, 2016 Pete Jansons


Young business lady is thinking about spreading her business

You might be your small business’s owner, but you shouldn’t be its only entrepreneur. When your employees think and act like entrepreneurs as well, the entire company benefits. A staff-wide focus on innovation, curiosity and thinking outside the box boosts everyone’s morale and engagement – and can lead your company to new heights. Fostering that entrepreneurial spirit can be an awesome retention tool as well – by providing workers the challenge they crave and fulfilling their desire to make a difference.

Creating a team of entrepreneurs starts with you. Consider the following ways to help employees at your small business develop that pioneering mindset.

Encourage Questioning

A small business will not grow without a consistent desire to improve. Employees who (respectfully) challenge the notion of business as usual should be applauded for their efforts rather than labeled as troublemakers. Lead by example by treating nothing as off limits for evaluation. Solicit responses to questions that ask “Why do we do something this way?” or “How can we do this better?” Soon, your whole team will be on alert for opportunities to make business-enhancing changes.

Embrace the Unknown

By nature of the setup, small business employees oftentimes must be trailblazers. They may need to wear unfamiliar hats or find ways to do more with less. Encourage these ventures into uncharted territory by reminding employees of past successes, providing them assistance as needed, and reassuring them that perfection isn’t expected. These efforts will help your employees become more comfortable with taking risks and challenging the status quo.

Promote Accountability

When problems arise, entrepreneurs can’t blame others. Instead, they must say, “I will find a way.” Expect the same behavior from everyone on your team, and you’ll soon create a workplace of creative problem-solvers empowered to take responsibility for their actions.

Surrender Some Control

Got an employee with a passion project? Let him or her run with it. The worker will be energized by the chance to try it out, and your small business may reap great benefits from its results.

Host an innovation day

Day-to-day concerns often leave small business staff members with little time for reflection. Break routine occasionally to brainstorm ways to make the company better. You might present a problem and see what ideas people suggest as solutions. Or you might challenge workers to collaborate on creating a plan for improving some aspect of the company, such as customer service or marketing efforts. Whatever the reason, employees will appreciate the chance to contribute ideas and be heard.

Share Profits

Simply put – money talks. Motivate employees to grow your small business’s revenue by offering them shares of the profits. Likewise, present a heap of praise and a cash bonus when an innovative idea saves money. When people see their efforts pay off both literally and figuratively, they’ll be excited to be thought of as part of your entrepreneurial team.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy


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