Why entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just for start-ups

In his monthly Western Mail column, Matt Southall, Acorn's Managing Director shares how thinking like an entrepreneur can help even the most established business.

People often associate entrepreneurial spirit with new businesses and start-ups only, but in existing, more mature organisations where employees are encouraged to think and behave in an entrepreneurial manner, this can be of benefit to them also.

Fostering an entrepreneurial environment in an existing business can be a real challenge but for those businesses that do create an atmosphere of ‘intrapreneurship’, idea-sharing and creativity can once again become part of the norm, and businesses find that they act and react with the exuberance of a start-up; developing new ideas, creating an infectious can-do attitude, and perhaps being better at adapting to change.

"Encouraging employees to be more entrepreneurial can fundamentally benefit businesses"

Encouraging employees to be more entrepreneurial can fundamentally benefit businesses in terms of profit, by prompting people to think differently they can help a business transform and grow. Where employees are encouraged to behave more like entrepreneurs, and are allowed space and given the opportunities to help solve business problems, they often come up with creative ideas of how to generate positive, disruptive change, leading to new opportunities and improving performance.

Here in Wales, we are lucky to already have a good level of support for entrepreneurship provided by the Welsh Government and some of the initiatives it develops and supports. Through its flagship business support organisation Business Wales, there is a wealth of excellent advice and guidance, not just for start-ups but also for existing businesses.

And in testament to its support for entrepreneurs, earlier this year the ‘Be The Spark’ campaign to help foster entrepreneurship more deeply into the Welsh working psyche was launched.

This inspiring initiative recognises the rich variety of Welsh businesses and its potential, and seeks to bring together a network of innovators, investors, corporates, government and academic talent to share their success stories, generate new ideas and innovate together, by networking and making new connections, to mutually benefit all organisations involved and seek to help them grow.

And flourishing business hubs like Welsh ICE and Indycube, that encourage people to come together and share knowledge, office space and meeting rooms; enabling businesses to establish themselves without the large start-up overheads, are a prime example of how effective adopting an entrepreneurial environment can be in helping to drive and accelerate businesses. There is no reason that this model, for example by encouraging greater inter-department co-working and collaborative problem solving within existing businesses, can’t help existing organisations develop and benefit from entrepreneurial behaviours also.

If employers start encouraging their employees to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude in the existing workplace and they put measures in place to support this, then the whole business landscape within Wales can share in an entrepreneurial vision, of change, growth and creativity, arising from a collaboration of ideas and knowledge – and importantly from the energy and positivity that is comes hand-in-hand with working in such a dynamic, fluid, and receptive working environment.

By giving employees the chance to do things differently, and to think like an entrepreneur, there is real potential for creating a culture of openness where everyone can feel they can be creative, offer new ideas and influence change – not just for their immediate employer, but for themselves and for the Welsh economy as a whole.

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