What makes an entrepreneurial enterprise?

light-bulb-new-businessSounds like a bit of tautology – isn’t the definition of an enterprise ‘an entrepreneurial organisation?’ I hear you say. Maybe, so … what makes one enterprise more entrepreneurial than another?

Paula Howley, ‘creator’ of the Social Enterprise Mark thinks it starts with mindsets – around the culture of an organisation.

Social enterprise is a big mind-shift. The most important thing is the culture of the organisation. You can’t set up an enterprise if you are continually having internal battles where staff members of the board are resistant. You need to identify that culture is an important part of the jigsaw and work on that.”

Below in the form of a list (for which no apologies) are eight (of many) characteristics of entrepreneurial organisations – a synthesis of the output of half a dozen thinkers and doers in the social enterprise sector. How do you stack up?

Self-awareness: You know about expertise and skills gaps in the enterpriseand take steps to plug them through training or recruitment.

Environmental awareness : You have a handle on trends and opportunities affecting your work. Some years ago Innocent Smoothies had ‘front foot’ meetings each week to avoid nasty surprises (they may still do so).

Passionate but purposeful:  You are committed and clear about your cause; it’s about balancing mission and money.

Plan for change: You’re not afraid to changeyour plan. (But you can only do so if you’ve got one!)

Fearless with figures: You understand cost, price and viability. Do you have robust financial systems?

Market understanding:You know the market – and compete on quality and customer focus. You know the difference between the customer and the consumer.

Delegated decisions: Staff are enpowered to make decisions. Drivers for a major parcel delivery firm in USA are authorised to spend up to US$100 to fix problems on the spot

Taking measured risks as a way of life:Failure is a comma, not a full stop. “Stumbling is only moving forward faster” says Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream

A final thought… Are organisations entrepreneurial or are they just a collection of entrepreneurial individuals?


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