How to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in your team

The success is many new ventures is owed to a powerfully enchanting and somewhat intangible spirit. Energy, a thirst for change, and a strong sense of purpose.

For a business owner, developing this entrepreneurial spirit is essential to grow your own business, achieve financial independence, and ultimately achieve your goals. You probably wouldn’t be a business owner if you didn’t have a huge dose of this bubbling inside.

However, entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just valuable for business owners. If you learn how to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in your team, it will yield the same results as it does for individuals — but on a much greater scale.

What is entrepreneurial spirit?

Entrepreneurial spirit can be summed up in one word: resilience. Resilience in the face of hardship, resilience in fighting complacency, resilience in business, resilience in growing despite all odds.

But if you want to tone the poetry down, you can classify it more specifically.

To me, entrepreneurial spirit is about:

So this is how entrepreneurial spirit looks like, but let’s see what are the benefits of it. You could probably figure out some advantages to having a team with people that show entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s important to understand the details. Only then can you be dedicated to cultivating entrepreneurial spirit in your team.

The benefits of entrepreneurial spirit in your team

The first clear benefit of entrepreneurial spirit in your team is increased productivity. Problem solving and resilience make people work more effectively, which in turn means they’re more productive. Moreover, being decisive reduces the buffer time usually spent waiting for a decision from above, so your employees get more done with the time available to them.

The second benefit is transparency and clarity. Employees that are decisive, and that take responsibility for their actions, will always communicate clearly and make sure the truth doesn’t get skewed along the corporate ladder. This will remove a lot of confusion, and calls or emails sent to clarify a situation. In the end, it saves you money, and it helps your team focus on what’s important.

The third benefit is innovation. Resilient, solution-oriented people that are constantly trying to evolve will innovate your product, processes and business. It’s a surefire way to reach more customers and grow your business.

So now you know the benefits. How do you go about cultivating entrepreneurial spirit?

The power of example

You can talk about entrepreneurial spirit and decisiveness all you want — if you’re not applying those principles, nobody will follow in your footsteps. If you don’t take responsibility when you make a mistake, your employees won’t either. If you’re not solution-oriented and you’re always complaining about things that go wrong, your employees will slowly start to do the same. Even if some of them wouldn’t do that otherwise, in time, they’ll follow the path of least resistance.

And that’s something important to keep in mind. Hiding your mistakes, complaining about problems instead of solving them, being complacent in a situation — these are all easy things to do. Having entrepreneurial spirit is the hard way. So if you want your team to take that path, you’ll need to pave it for them.

You’ll need to have entrepreneurial spirit first. Then, you’ll need to make your thinking and actions visible, so that your team can see entrepreneurial spirit in action, and follow along.

Here’s my suggestion. Check my list detailing the characteristics of entrepreneurial spirit. Think about each entry in turn, and analyze your work life in the past year. If you don’t cross all of those boxes, figure out ways to develop your own entrepreneurial spirit. And then, you can move on to the next steps.

Be clear about what you want

Once you’re demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit yourself, state the value to your team and start to make it part of the culture. Communicating a strong purpose for your venture will help to get everybody on board. Don’t shy away from the details. Express clearly that you value entrepreneurial spirit, and that you’d like to make it part of the fabric of the organization.

You can start by sharing your own story, of how you got to where you did and the resilience that it took. You should also create a reading list and share it with your team — a list that focuses on the points I listed above.

Reward entrepreneurial spirit

In order to cement entrepreneurial spirit into your culture, you have to notice it, and reward it. This can be as simple as praising employees when they show adept problem solving, or smart decision making. The more you invest in this, the faster results will appear. For example, entrepreneurs go through the toils of running a business because of the high reward. If you want to expect the same from your employees, think about how to reward performance, whether it’s through bonuses or a profit-sharing system.

Final thoughts…

In all of this process, proactiveness is extremely important. A clear expectation setting, praise, and a profit sharing system might be enough to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in your team. For maximum results, you should be on the lookout for opportunities to help your employees grow even more.

Coach your team members when they’re feeling down. Allocate resources to help them learn, don’t just say you expect them to constantly grow. These are some examples, but for the best results, you’ll need to find what works for your company.

What do you think? Is entrepreneurial spirit something you expect from your team? What do you do to cultivate it?

I’m Philip J. Keezer, president and founder of management consulting firm Grindstone Capital. Dedicated to hard work, learning, positivity and accountability.