The Future Businesses Within Your Business

By Bob Morrell on February 27, 2017

Over fifteen years ago, Jeremy and myself both worked for different companies. I had moved from Ziff Davis to Expedia, and Jeremy was with Yellow Pages.

What those organisations didn’t know was that we had a plan to start our own business. Years later, our training and consultancy work has grown significantly. From two lads who conjured a marketing business in Jeremy’s kitchen to working with large and ambitious firms in Europe, The US and India we still have much to learn. Still trying new and classic approaches to growth, still striving to do better and look for new opportunities – we’ve never lost that hunger to be creative, develop others and ourselves. Those companies could have tapped into those important assets for longer, yet they were not geared up for that level of insight into their employees.

Spotting People Who Are Itching for More
These days many organisations will be guarding their talent pool and developing their people. However, no matter what you do, a percentage will always leave, and do what we did – it’s inevitable. So, the real challenge, is that whilst you have these entrepreneurs in your grasp, you must use their creativity, innovation and acumen to help grow your business. Sometimes it’s hard to identify these types. They may work in areas that don’t immediately attract attention, or they may be modest and hide their abilities. You may know exactly who they are, because their part of the business is growing, challenging convention or innovating. They may also be good at self publicity and always asking for more challenges and promotions.

How One Manager Tapped into Jeremy’s Curiosity
While Jeremy was managing large accounts at Yellow Pages his manager Keith Clark knew he had an interest in marketing so rather than handing out all of the marketing collateral and research to all the account execs he’d give it only to Jeremy and trust him to feedback to the group the best research worth sharing with the team. The timing of this was crucial too. It was always before they started a new campaign in a different region. “Right team, we are soon to go into Coventry, before we do Jeremy will appraise you of some valuable research to help you grow your existing clients’ commitment to the directories and importantly the ‘new media’. That was what it was called then, new media and yet surely directories would now be called old media?

People who start their own businesses are not driven only by making money and certainly aren’t desperate for security so give them things that challenge them and enable them to take calculated risks.

The Lifelong Company Man vs. Entrepreneurial Thinking
Perhaps the hardest thing for anyone who has only ever lived a corporate life is to recognise entrepreneurs as that, and not to incorrectly paint them as mavericks. There are some organisations that would rather have a lot of people behave in a mediocre way rather than deal with too many high flyers that want more than a pay cheque.

Management is an invention that creates hierarchies and political game playing but it also exists to allow pay scales to be managed and reached. Hence very often the Peter Principle prevails, in that people are promoted into management and up to their level of incompetence.

What To Do To Hold On Longer
One thing you can do to ensure you hold onto people with entrepreneurial flair and invention for longer is to ask them what else they want to do to stimulate them. You can move them to other departments that need a shake up.

In both mine and Jeremy’s background of working with media companies, some great insights were gained and new models and processes emerged when a journalist became more commercially minded and a salesperson joined editorial, marketing or product development.

‘A day in the life of’ and ‘back to the floor’ for a few days a year are great to allow people to experience other job roles, and develop empathy for different colleagues. Managing and focusing the spirit of an entrepreneur to grow your department, your organisation and themselves is quite another job, and if it falls under the banner of talent management, then let’s measure talent retention and help these people spread their wings a little wider before they eventually leave your nest and fly.