entrepreneurship

How to Become an Entrepreneur Within Your Organization

Entrepreneurship is a mindset. An entrepreneur is someone who embraces critical thinking, innovation, and change rather than waiting to adapt to changes as they occur. Entrepreneurs who operate within an organization are looking to add value; they are open to advice from mentors and managers and proactively seek innovative solutions. They take full control of their career paths. Strong business leaders understand that human capital is the most valuable asset they have, even though it often does not show on the balance sheet, and that the best employees are the ones who are proactive, not reactive. These are the people who make the clients and customers happy.    

The entrepreneurial spirit is not inherently at odds with an established organizational structure, but new ideas, by definition, shake up the status quo. Even though organizations across industries are calling for innovative, out of the box thinking from employees, would-be entrepreneurs do face a certain set of risks. How can entrepreneurial-minded employees working from the inside act on their initiative while minimizing risk to themselves and their organizations? 

It is not enough to simply have a good idea; you must also have drive. Without this startup energy, you will not feel sufficiently motivated to venture into the unknown. Curiosity and problem solving skills will get you halfway, but if you do not personally care about the outcome then the risk factor will overshadow the possibilities.   

The next step is establishing what you are willing to invest to take this step and, beyond that, what you can afford to lose if things do not pan out as you hoped. Traditional risk calculations would otherwise nip conceptual exploration in the bud. With an uncertain expected return, investment is less than prudent. But, as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” You have to readjust your mindset to embrace uncertainty before you even begin. 

The landscape looks very different for external entrepreneurs. While they calculate time and money risks, internal entrepreneurs are wagering their ambition against the social capital already accrued within their organization. The most significant risk criteria to consider is their relationship capital and social standing and these risks must be addressed in much the same way as traditional entrepreneurs manage financial risk and investments. 

Now that you have embraced your entrepreneurial spirit and calculated the risks, you need to look around and figure out who you want by your side. Internal entrepreneurs benefit greatly from employee partnerships and supportive bosses, or at least indulgently passive superiors. Your evolving ideas require emotional, physical, and sometimes political support as well as a potential marketplace for your efforts.  

Once you’ve given yourself the green light and internal network to pursue your passion, it is time to act. Remain flexible and always learn from the outcomes of your actions, readjusting before taking your next step. Learn how to proceed with relatively low-risk steps, using your available network as a support and sounding board. In this way, you can bring energy and continuous improvement to your organization, thereby establishing yourself as an invaluable resource and entrepreneur, all while remaining within the supportive structure of your organization.

How Technology Changed Branding

The word “branding” literally refers to burning insignia, initials, or a logo onto a product. The term has been used for cattle, pottery in ancient times, and now it indicates the indelible mark you personally make on the products and services you are marketing. 

The idea of branding, as it more closely relates to industry, arose in the 1800’s when manufacturers, who had been personally selling goods within their own communities, began shipping products to sell elsewhere. The products had to fend for themselves without the manufacturer there to explain or promote it. 19th century manufacturers developed the ideas of publicity and advertising in their efforts to build name consciousness and product loyalty. 

The concept of self-positioning we now call “personal branding” was introduced in 1937 in a book by Napoleon Hill called Think and Grow Rich and further developed in 1981 by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The idea gained traction and was popularized by Tom Peters. 

In today’s iteration, brands constitute promises that peers, consumers, and potential employers believe; think of your personal brand as reputation capital and marketing as reputation management. In other words, you aren’t selling just goods or services, you are selling you.

What are your unique attributes, your skills, passions, and strengths? What sets you apart from your competitors? Now brand that reputation onto your wares with a highly recognizable logo and consistent style across platforms and mediums.

If you work for a corporation or a nonprofit, your “wares” might consist entirely of your skills, experience, attitude, and reputation. Nevertheless, consistency is key; cultivating a trustworthy product is the only way to grow your brand. A strong brand is a combination of trust, attention, reputation and execution. 

With the age of the internet, branding has reached a new level of relevance and consequence. Managing your reputation is a full-scale operation, spanning the far corners of the virtual world. Despite the fact that social media is technically online, its effects in the real world are both real and far-reaching.

Social media allows you to curate and market an online identity; this isn’t just a tool, it has become an expectation. If you want to secure preference in the mind of the consumer, you must first earn their trust. Your professional reputation is equally built on brand consistency.

Employers are increasingly cognizant of social media as a way to vet applicants before offering the first round of interviews. This may involve everything from scanning the applicant’s Twitter or Facebook feed, finding their personal blog or profile on LinkedIn, or conducting a more extensive background check using search engines and other tools.

Job seekers know that to be a competitor, they must foster a strong online identity, cultivate a following, and provide potential employers with access to their personal brand assets. Such efforts will greatly improve your chances of creating a perception of your qualities and capabilities that will distinguish you from the competition.  
 

CEO Featured in The Color of Ingenuity

Crafting Brands & Building A Presence

It’s not hard to imagine the future possibilities for one who starts their first business venture when she was just a high school student. Dr. Talaya Waller, CEO/Founder of Waller & Company, first started her entrepreneurial journey as a violinist in a musical group she pioneered called Young Inspirations. She and a group of fellow students performed at weddings and various gigs within the community for extra money. While others were still depending on hand outs and allowances from their parents, Dr.Waller was creating a stream of income for herself as a teen.

“I didn’t always know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I always knew I wanted to be a business woman.” recalls Dr.Waller. After completing college, she started her journey of becoming a business woman by securing her first job. “I got my first job, held it for less than a year and hated it so much that I ended up quitting” which lead to her next business venture. A company called Pepper & Pearls, which was a traveling workout company that hosted parties for small groups of varying ages. Dr. Waller soon realized, it wasn’t a chase for money or even working out for that matter but a desire to impact the lives of others that fueled her.

The birth of Waller & Company, a personal branding company that Dr.Waller started a few years ago has allowed her to combine all of her passions. Coming from a military family, she was accustomed to change, travel and meeting new people which parlay directly into Waller & Company . “We are managing and changing the perception of people. Personal branding is planting a seed in the mind of your target audience by sharing and crafting your story. We often have to transcend stereotypes through story telling.” As both a minority and a woman, Dr.Waller understands all too well the need for personal branding and how it impacts opportunities.

Waller & Company has successfully been able to brand their clients as “Thought-leaders” in their fields by providing a range of services such as online presence strategy, public relations and crisis management through consulting, branding and speaking engagements. The importance of something as simple as a head shot and an online presence via a website or blog are essential and a small piece of the branding puzzle that Waller & Company help navigate for their clients. And when it comes to crisis management, the antidote is simple, “Create so much positive that any negative is a drop in a sea verses a drop in a glass.”

Currently, Dr. Waller is working on continuing to grow Waller & Company. Beyond that, she is looking to share some of the keys to personal branding while adding yet another title to her impressive resume as an author. There are no limits for Dr.Waller so stay tuned!