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Phoenix Forward

5 ways to think like an entrepreneur at work

Enterprising employees

Think employees can’t have an entrepreneurial spirit? Think again. Here, five expert tips on how enterprising employees can get ahead:

1. Make your job bigger and better.

Savvy employees create their own opportunities, according to Jim Lipot, a business consultant and instructor in the MBA program at University of Phoenix.

He likens employees who take the initiative to change their positions, grow them and make them better than they were before to entrepreneurs.

Lipot uses himself as an example. After taking over a job previously held by a low-performing employee in a company’s internal claims department, he not only found ways to increase the position’s productivity level, but also actively searched for additional responsibilities.

“I modified the position into what eventually became a risk management department,” he says.

2. Look for ways to save your company money.

Successful entrepreneurs know how to do a lot with limited resources. The same goes for employees, Lipot asserts.

“Entrepreneurs are accustomed to working on a shoestring budget,” he says. “In today’s business climate, employees who can do the same will get ahead.” Lipot recommends employees find less expensive alternatives for the tasks they do every day, such as using cellphones or Skype™ instead of making expensive landline calls, exploring telecommuting options and even researching cheaper office supplies.

3. Embrace creativity.

The entrepreneurial spirit thrives on creativity and problem solving. Many successful corporate managers also embrace this kind of thinking, according to Lipot.

“You know the old saying — build a better mousetrap,” he says. “Every day you go into work, ask yourself the question, ‘If this were my company, what would I do?’ If you approach your job that way, you’re acting as a kind of entrepreneur.”

4. Take risks.

Just as starting your own business involves risk, so does showing leadership in the workplace.

“When people make more of their positions than those who went before them, they [take] calculated risks that pay off for both them and the company in which they work,” Lipot notes.

He encourages employees to search actively for things that need improvement. “What tasks and processes are being duplicated? What technologies aren’t being leveraged to their full potential? Don’t be afraid to bring your observations to management, or even take the initiative to solve those problems yourself,” he advises.

5. Develop a thick skin.

Although embracing the entrepreneurial spirit at work can pay big dividends, it can also spark a backlash from your peers, according to Lipot. “The more attention one employee receives, the more jealous other employees can become,” he says.

Lipot encourages the enterprising employee to expect these kinds of reactions and take them with a grain of salt. “Eventually, the other employees who feel threatened by you will come around and see you as someone to emulate,” he says. “Success is contagious.”


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