Philip Stiles, University Senior Lecturer in Corporate Governance at Cambridge Judge, shares insight on entrepreneurship and people management ahead of teaching on the Strategic Business Growth Programme in 2021.
Building a new enterprise and scaling it up is a heroic activity. The journey from initial idea, building the business case, gaining funding, marketing the offering, competing with incumbent businesses, is a white-knuckle ride. Deloitte research shows that only 1 in 200 businesses will grow from a start-up to a scale up, and so the perils involved are real and ever-present. Though every business is unique and faces its own distinct set of factors, there are certain common elements that seem to predict whether firms can stay the journey. I have researched and worked with a number of start-ups and scale up businesses in the area of people management and in advance of our meeting together on the programme, I’d like to highlight five core themes that entrepreneurs have to consider to make their organisation future-proof.
- Leading in an entrepreneurial organisation Leading an entrepreneurial company requires many great characteristics – such as decisiveness, vision, energy, foresight, resilience, and determination. These are essential for the creation of a business. But are they the same characteristics that will allow you to grow a business? We will look at the research and see what leaders need to learn and unlearn as their businesses begin to build.
- Attracting and retaining the best people A major part of leadership is to ensure that the right employees are hired and will stay as the business progresses. Too often, employees are recruited, stay a couple of years, then depart to a larger more established organisation which may provide greater rewards or security. This kind of churn can be demoralising. In our programme we will look at ways to increase both our attraction and retention of the people we want to keep.
- Motivation through the journey Entrepreneurship is exciting, but it is tough too, and it is clear that success if and when it comes, is not linear. There will be bumps on the road and periods where people lose impetus and direction. How motivation is engendered and maintained in such contexts is vitally important for the business to deliver its objectives. How do leaders keep motivation high in the business, particularly when progress stalls?
- Building an identity for your employees. Just as your clients need to see your products and services marketed to the best possible extent, so too do your current and prospective employees need to understand what kind of experience they will have in your business. Having an “employee value proposition” allows you to fix an identity for employees that will help you attract and retain excellent people
- What does a high-performance workplace look like? Most organisations aspire to high-performance. To succeed as an entrepreneurial business, you have to stand out and offer something new, as well as having a workforce and an organisational structure that is fit for purpose and flexible enough to expand as you grow. But what are the elements of a high-performance workplace and structure. We shall see what aspects of high-performance working are common across successful entrepreneurial businesses and what are the takeaways for your venture.