Every employer’s dream is to have self-starters and motivated employees. However, most employers spend way too much time looking for candidates to fill positions instead of strategically identifying assets that will add value to their organization.
Innovation is the key to growth and prosperity, and is the only real competitive advantage that companies have in today’s fast-moving market. Innovative leaders are needed to bring in ideas, take risks and push the company forward. Still, not so many employers are willing to hire people that know more about their business than they do.
Hiring someone with entrepreneurial spirit or with a past as an entrepreneur is at the same time an opportunity and a risk for the employer. Here are three pros and three cons that managers should be aware of when deciding to hire that kind of innovative leader for their organization.
PRO: Entrepreneurs have vision. They understand the big picture and every aspect of a business (including raising capital, managing budgets, creating benchmarks and measurements, as well as marketing and promotions).
Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for ways to improve or top a previous success, and are sued to wear many “hats”. Celebrating successes or milestones is important, but entrepreneurs have a long-term vision of where they want to go: getting comfortable is really not an option.
PRO: They are risk takers. In today’s business, a moderate risk is what companies need to launch products and technologies that nobody has seen before, as well running unconventional marketing campaigns and attract customers in a disruptive way. Entrepreneurs are familiar with risks and failure, which helps them being more intuitive in their decision making. This might not be true for every entrepreneur, yet those who’ve learned from their mistakes are constantly at work to improve and not to repeat them.
PRO: Entrepreneurs go beyond the job description and understand the value of relationships. They are more likely to engage in activities related to their industry outside of normal work hours. Those that excel at networking typically have a strong network and valuable connections to potential partners or customers. Cultivating healthy business relationships is an asset and skill every employee should be required to develop. Employees with an entrepreneurial mindset also enjoy learning about various aspects of the business on their own time, which helps them staying on top of market and technology trends.
There is also a flip side of the coin, which explains why employers are sometimes reluctant to hire entrepreneurs.
CON: Entrepreneurs are hard to retain. They never stop and are constantly looking for the next big thing to work on. In every company, though, even within the most innovative ones, managers are expected to work on tasks that require less design thinking too and may result “boring”. Entrepreneurs can easily be distracted and jump on the next train.
CON: They are a potential competitor for the company. Managers are afraid that entrepreneurs will use their employer as a training field, so when they are ready to launch their own venture they will leave, leveraging what they’ve learned on the job.
CON: Entrepreneurs are considered not to be necessarily good team members. While their leadership skills are out of discussion, employers fear that being a team member and collaborating with others might not be entrepreneurs’ main asset.
Managers might be comfortable with taking the lead and being the boss; however, one virtue that is too often overlooked is entrepreneurs' ability to know when to lead and when to follow. Every employer desires a team of highly skilled professionals that are armed with a strong entrepreneurial drive, as they will take risks, will go beyond job descriptions and work harder than anybody to achieve company’s long-term goals. Looking at hiring entrepreneurs as an investment rather than a threat, seems to be the right approach to drive innovation through talent acquisition.
Rocco Sannelli is the Director of Marketing of 1-Page, an award-winning challenge-based hiring platform for enterprises.