Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Quit Trying to Make Everyone on Your Team an Entrepreneur

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Once a business gets beyond the initial startup push, a new phase often kicks in.


Now the original business founders start to seek out other team members to help grow the company. This may take the form of reaching out to untapped target populations, creating variations of the products and services for new markets and developing offshoots from the main business line.  

These are good ideas to pursue but unfortunately many business leaders make some glaring errors in how they try to engage others in such entrepreneurial activity.  

Here's what you should do instead:

1. Understand team members' personality styles.

Some entrepreneurs assume everyone on the team is an entrepreneur who thinks like they do.

If you lead a successful business (and have more than two or three team members), several types of team members are most likely represented in your organization. Not everyone in your company is an entrepreneur or wants to be one.

Invest a little money, time and effort in having members of your staff take a business-oriented personality assessment to help you figure out which ones are entrepreneurial and those who will perform better in other roles.

2. Learn how each staffer is motivated and prefers to be encouraged.

Some entrepreneurs imagine that everyone is motivated by the same things they are. Most entrepreneurs are driven by pursuing achievement, monetary reward and public recognition. Rarely, though, is everyone on a team motivated by these same things. Each team member probably has a different preferences when it comes to being shown appreciation.

If you don't understand this, you're at risk for setting up structures, compensation plans and recognition programs that will miss the mark because they’re based on the motivators important to you not your team members. 

Supervisors in organizations waste a lot of time and energy going through the motions of recognition and might even stir up negative reactions (cynicism and apathy) because their actions are not viewed as genuine. Take a look at my online Motivating by Appreciation Inventory to identify how individual team members want to be shown appreciation and encouragement.      

3. Use each employee's strengths to the fullest.

Some business leaders assume that the best way to grow entrepreneurial activities is to get more people participating in them.

But you might encourage more growth by making sure the hard-core entrepreneurial types are freed up from managerial tasks so they can do what they're good at. In some situations, hiring a manager or support staff may be the quickest way to attain more entrepreneurial growth. You might end up reassigning tasks from entrepreneurial employees to free them up to do what they are best at: growing new business opportunities.

Don’t try to make staffers who don’t think, act or are motivated like entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs. They will become frustrated and you won’t see the results you hoped for.

Yes, you need help in growing the business but don't assume that the best way is to get other team members to engage in entrepreneurial activity. Find out which people are skilled and motivated like you are and free them up to pursue their goals.