Encouraging Entrepreneurialism in the Work Place

When I was in Silicon Valley, I was very impressed with the fact that many of the large tech companies we know and love actually encourage entrepreneurialism within the workplace. And not only that, seek to hire true entrepreneurs as employees of their company. 

The concept of owning a business whilst working a job seems, I imagine to the average Australian, a very foreign concept. However, in America, I saw first-hand how it really can work in action. 

At LinkedIn for instance, they have dedicated “IN days” where people are encouraged to work on their own projects. They will sometimes provide guidance on the theme of what these projects might be. For instance, when we were there, they had recently had a charity theme where they were devising solutions to water sanitation around the world. You were encouraged to work on a project, or contribute to one that could help with improving water sanitation or hygiene around the world. On work time. Brilliant. 

You are also welcome to work on your own projects at many of these companies. Time is allocated for dedicated hackathons, however in many cases, whatever you do create whilst an employee will become the property of that business, which is certainly a downside when you create something of serious value. The benefit though, of course, is that you are creating it on someone else’s time and money, and are being given the opportunity to explore new ideas in a great environment. 

With cultures like this going on within the workplace, and plenty of inspiration to be drawn from the many tech companies who have started and sold out for billions in America, an entrepreneur is someone that appears to be a first class citizen, someone to aspire to even. 

This whole paradigm is largely made possible with a robust system of private funding from venture capitalists, angel investors and crowd sourcing. Americans also back themselves. They’ll readily access loans to invest heavily into their new venture to give it the best shot at succeeding. 

Back here in Australia however, the Government presence is much more omnipresent and start ups and businesses seem to look for Government grants and Government funding to get things off the ground that have not even been proven. 

I can tell you from experience, that if there is money available from the Government, it is typically available to people who have already proven their idea to some degree, or who have a solid plan and demonstrated business acumen to convince the funding organisation that they have a shot at the thing they are proposing succeeding, which I think is fair enough. You cannot expect something for nothing, after all. 

It would also be wonderful to see the crowd funding, venture capital and angel investing scene grow in Australia, and for people needing funding to switch their mentality from sticking their hand out and expecting money from the government to develop their next entrepreneurial idea. 

I do know of one innovative and entrepreneurial thinking boss on the Sunshine Coast who gives his staff company credit cards to go and hire their own contractors on Odesk for instance, and it is then up to them to manage their teams and get the job done. But these stories are few and far between. 

Every industry is being disrupted yet not every business is rethinking the way they do business. It would be great to see some big companies in Australia fostering entrepreneurialism within the workplace just like I saw Linkedin and Facebook in America do. 

Their team may be able to solve some of the problems they are facing, if given the chance. 

Have you ever worked in a company that encourages entrepreneurialism? Do you think Australia depends on Government funding too not and that the private investing scene needs to grow? Do you use or have you heard of innovative ways to encourage entrepreneurialism in the workplace. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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