By Ashley Laabs
When you’re running a business, it can become very easy to recognize something that can help your business grow – especially when you don’t have it. Instead of focusing on the want to seek resources you don’t have, it is of the foremost importance to recognize the resources that already exist.
Employees are often considered an investment – you pour money into training and wages to cultivate a person who represents your brand. But are you really reaping the full harvest of your investment?
Once in a while an employee comes along who loves to do things differently and always has an opinion. They may ask lots of questions or seek feedback regularly. Don’t just chalk it up to inexperience: There’s a new breed of employee in town, and they are known as intrapreneurs.
Intrapreneurs have many of the same skills as entrepreneurs – creativity, leadership, risk taking – but instead of creating a new business, they function within the existing construct to improve systems, service and products. Smart managers and owners will seek out these employees and encourage them to create positive change that reflects the interest of the business.
To create an environment in which intrapreneurs can thrive, it requires a delicate mix of freedom and supervision. Work closely with these innovators to clearly define project parameters, steps, benchmarks and goals. By defining purpose or ROI, it can become clearer how many resources and how much time should be devoted to any given endeavor. Creating clear boundaries can help alleviate issues of control or mitigate the impact of a failed idea. Clearly, free ideas are the most viable and have the least pressure for results.
Encouraging intrapreneurs may sound like an untapped gold mine, but risk can reap failure as well as reward. Weigh and prepare for both. The trap many managers get caught in is expecting success; the trap many intrapreneurs fall into is holding their ideas back so they don’t get fired if they fail
However, creating a rewarding learning environment can be beneficial for employees and businesses alike. Staff members can more easily produce revenue-increasing ideas because they have the most interaction with clients. By interpreting the client’s needs through the lens of your brand, intrapreneurs can bring new possibilities to light. By mentoring and rewarding these breakthroughs, you can foster a loyal relationship with an employee who gets satisfaction from helping your business – that’s pretty much the definition of a win-win relationship!
To the intrapreneurs who may be reading this: Take your ideas to the key players of the business. Make sure your ideas intersect with trends, advances, a gap in the market or customer needs. You’re more likely to get permission if your plan conserves resources or at least has realistic parameters.
To the managers and salon owners: Expect mistakes, but encourage your employees anyway. Learn with them and from them by participating in the process without demanding unrealistic results. Be a mentor to the young people who take an interest in your business – even if they don’t stay with you forever, you have the opportunity to create a stronger workforce for the future. Lastly, allow your intrapreneurs to rub off on you! Get swept up in the winds of change in creativity once in a while to keep your business fresh.