You don’t have to create a product or think up a revolutionary idea in order to be an entrepreneur. No matter what your profession might be there are always opportunities to practice entrepreneurship.
In a recent article for Entrepreneur magazine, editor-in-chief Jason Feifer commented on how entrepreneurship is less about what you do and more about how you think. He writes:
“I don’t see entrepreneurship as a career choice. It’s a mindset. That’s the thing I marvel at most when spending time with brilliant entrepreneurs, and it’s the skill I think everyone should continually hone.”
“When you think like an entrepreneur, it’s like wearing augmented reality glasses. You see the same things as everyone else, but you see them differently. They appear as inactive opportunities, just waiting to be activated. All you need is to find a new way for something old to be useful.”
Understanding this, it becomes easy to see how there are entrepreneurial opportunities all around us. In a typical office setting, for example, there are plenty of ways to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset and look for ways to create value all around you.
Create Value by Creating Solutions
One of the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur is value creation. For product innovators, this is often done by creating marketable solutions to widespread problems. Or creating solutions to problems most people haven’t recognized yet.
When the Miracle Mop was invented, for example, it was the result of its creator looking for a way to improve on the mop and make the workload easier on housewives. By making the head of the mop removable, users not only avoided having to touch whatever was absorbed by the mop, but they could also throw it in the washer and reuse it. This solution was so appealing to consumers, that the mop became a huge market success. The inventor, Joy Mangano, identified a problem and then went one step further and provided a solution. And problem-solving is a skill that can be practiced in any field.
Inefficiencies exist everywhere, but it is not enough to simply point out their existence and leave it at that. Everybody is capable of complaining but few people are capable of implementing actual solutions. And as Feifer alludes, the entrepreneurial mind views these inefficiencies as “inactive opportunities.”
If you identify a cog in the system that is inhibiting workflow, instead of merely pointing it out to your superior, brainstorm solutions. Be prepared to come to the table thinking like an entrepreneur. No one would walk into a product pitch only to identify a problem and then walk out. The same should be said for the workplace. If you see a problem, provide solutions. And by doing so, you are creating value for your employer.
Learn to be Adaptable
The business world is highly unpredictable. You can be on top of the world one day and down in the dumps the next. But serial entrepreneurs know that it is important to learn to roll with the punches. Every single person can benefit from learning to go with the flow, but this adaptability can be especially useful in creating value in the workplace.
No matter what line of work you are in, each day there are literally dozens of things that could go wrong. And when something does happen, whether that be a missed deadline or a loss of a major client, you want to strive to be the person who remains calm and collected at all times. Training yourself to be adaptable no matter what happens sets yourself up for success should something stressful occur. In short, you always want to be the person that the office looks to in an emergency.
You can also be adaptable by learning how to perform as many tasks around the office as possible. The more roles you are able to fill, the higher your value is in the workplace. By learning to be a man or woman of “many hats,” you show that you are willing to do whatever is needed in order to succeed—a quality that won’t go unnoticed.
For most entrepreneurs, the beginning of their careers is marked by having to fill every company role themselves. They are often the accounting department, the manufacturer, and the CEO. In order to make it through the first few years of launching a business, you have to learn to adapt and do whatever is necessary for your product or idea to get off the ground and running.
Even the best products or ideas would tank if they weren’t marketed correctly, and the workplace is no different. Entrepreneurs know that branding is everything and without the ability to stand out from the competition you don’t stand a chance. It’s not enough to just be “another” option in the marketplace, you have to be “the best” option to beat out the competition.
The same is true of the workplace. In order to stand out among your coworkers and others in the job market, you need to make yourself uniquely indispensable. Do what you need to do to be known as the person who always comes through on a project or the person who never misses a deadline. Speak up at meetings and offer to discuss the “inactive opportunities” you have identified. If you can market yourself as someone who is always willing to look for ways to create value, your career will benefit as a result.
Also published on Medium.