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Entrepreneurial Talent - Use It or Lose It!

Article date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 10:35:03 GMT

Businesses that neglect to nurture entrepreneurial spirit within their teams risk losing their most talented employees.

Dave Castell, director of digital at integrated agency Seven said: "Knowing how to manage people's desires to be entrepreneurs themselves, whether that's in the role that they are doing or whether they've got personal projects that will supplement your business, is important. Our hand is forced to find new business models to retain the talent that we have."

Tash Whitmey, CEO of digital marketing agency EHS 4D, warned businesses to use their team's entrepreneurial spirit or lose them to more supportive firms. She said: "If entrepreneurs are stifled, they will either break through or go somewhere else and that is a massive risk."

"Many people are entrepreneurs but just because they don't head up their own company and get it off the ground, it doesn't mean that they are not that way inclined," explained Elizabeth Varley, co-founder of the community and workspace for technology entrepreneurs, TechHub.

"Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. The difference with those who go and start companies, or create new things is often their appetite for risk but they are in essence problem solvers. They are amazing people to have in a team, they are the people who are going to spot the gap in the market that you're working in but we are not nurturing them."

Castell explained that the key to retaining entrepreneurs is to follow the example set by the tech giants. He said: "As businesses we need to encourage the areas of growth for the best people within the company to prosper. There's a Google 20% rule where employees are granted 20% of their time to work on projects outside of their job description. It is a great idea to allow people to have their own ideas and develop their abilities as part of their job role."

Jonathan Bowers, MD of hosting specialist UKFast, described how this approach has been successful for the hosting company. He said: "We have some great technical minds at UKFast and know how important it is to take care of their entrepreneurial spirit. Our team members are given the opportunity to choose their own projects to develop their skills.

"A member of our R&D team took this opportunity to design a new telephone system which saved us almost £250,000 - so it's great for the employee to be valued and have their own projects and it's great to save the company money too."

Adrian Lomas, MD of digital agency Blueleaf added: "No two people are the same, figure out what drives the individual and work with them to achieve even more between you. A young entrepreneur joined Blueleaf back in 2006 who showed great signs of being a bit different, more flighty, opinionated and driven.

"I had to develop a different way for us to work together, as I know he would have left us if he hadn't received the support he needed. Over time, he was made a director at a very young age, and now six years later, he's absolutely instrumental in the growth of Blueleaf.

"It's not to say that directorship will meet everyone's needs, but it's what drove Rob, and my awareness and understanding of this helped to shape a very strong leadership team for our organisation."


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