Want a more entrepreneurial organization? Start here.

Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC
Image by Shutterstock

Whether working in the public or private sector, the key to enjoying a sustainable and satisfying working life lies in following the positive examples set by healthy business builders and entrepreneurs.

Let’s look at four ways in which innovators show up in the workplace and how your company might follow suit.


A baby learning to walk doesn’t give up after falling down a few times. They keep trying until eventually, they’re upright. Entrepreneurs are a special breed in that setbacks can make them more motivated to figure it out. The same goes for motivated business builders. They see initial failures or false starts as a necessary by-product of innovating or attempting to change. Instead of feeling dejected, they see botched attempts as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve. The lesson here? Cultivate a spirit of determination in your workplace and a mindset that encourages problem-solving in the name of innovation. Earlier this week at one of the Ft. Wayne Startup Week events, keynote speaker Dr. Ron Lewis noted resilience (stick-to-itiveness) as one of the key characteristics of GRIT (along with Guts -courage to make the step Intensity – not losing focus, and Tenacity – fighting for the right things).

Ambition (maybe also called passion and purpose)

This one goes beyond personal gain — it means being motivated by bolstering one’s community and society. When the objectives of work exceed the desire for more money, status, and social stature, that work is likely to be more rewarding. And in turn, that increases employee retention. Think about some of the most successful brands and their corporate DNA. While they certainly profit from capitalism and consumerism, they also embrace a philosophy known as conscious capitalism.


Entrepreneurs ask, “what if?” and “how might we?” To that end, they often rely on both their head and their heart to make decisions. They approach their craft by combining knowledge and data with experience and intuition. Having the gift to translate ideas into reality based on real-world education and practical experience is extremely attractive in a rapidly evolving, complex and uncertain world.

Civility & Decorum (constructive discourse)

When you remove your ego from the equation, it’s easier to build a loyal and productive team. As the nature of work becomes more collaborative, the ability to demonstrate respect and consideration toward others and draw out their potential will never go away. It’s amazing what teams can accomplish when those in the leadership don’t care who gets the credit. An organization’s ability to confront its realities and have transparent and intentional conversations demand leaders who exhibit moral courage.

In short, it’s no secret that the future and nature of employment raises more questions than answers. The most attractive companies know how to cultivate behaviors that address, rather than dance around, those uncertainties. Entrepreneurs offer many lessons for surviving and thriving in the modern world of work. The question then becomes: will companies take note and embrace entrepreneurial thinking and action?


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