Human Resources



Entrepreneur first, employee second

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Over the past few years, we’ve seen employees placing a larger emphasis on doing work they feel passionate about. Because of this, many aren’t afraid to jump ship as soon as they feel the job they do is no longer impactful, professionally or personally.

Before I took up an editorial role, I flirted with the world of entrepreneurship. In 2007, two girlfriends and I launched a blog shop selling home-made jewellery and T-shirts, and two years later, a bigger group of friends helped me write, direct and produce a play that ran at The Arts House.

While nothing monetary or tangible ever came of it, I like to think the lessons learned back then have come in handy more than once in my current career.

As we move boldly into 2014, employers have to start looking at new ways to continue engaging and developing their best and brightest – especially if they want to win the war on talent.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had from my foray into entrepreneurship:

How to manage mistakes

It is often said failing is the easiest way to learn a new lesson. However, in a business setting, employees know at the back of their minds there will always be someone higher up who is capable of clearing up after them if something does go off track.

This isn’t necessarily always the case when you’re the highest in power and have other people relying on you.

Giving employees room to make mistakes, and managing the repercussions will give them the opportunity to take on a more long-term perspective, even when working on smaller projects.

You learn to filter through connections faster

In a world where you can make new friends with a single click, it can be difficult to identify connections who are truly valuable to your network. In the start-up space, where your success is often determined by the people you choose to work with, it becomes critical to surround yourself with people who are able to aid in your success.

You build your personal brand

Entrepreneurs are often the face of their brand, and have their own value proposition. In the same way, an employee is a representative of the company, be it during office hours or after.

Being aware of how to present themselves, the messages they should always be delivering and understanding how they tie into the bigger picture will not only create confident employees, but potentially put them on a fast-track to leadership roles.

Keep up or get left behind

The business landscape has become a very busy and dynamic space, as more companies and economies begin to truly move on from the GFC. In doing so, the need for companies and their employees to stay relevant has never been more imperative.

If employees have an entrepreneur’s do-or-die mindset, they are less likely to be frivolous with their decisions, and will have a vested interest in keeping up with the latest trends, challenges and opportunities.

You can encourage this by tying their team success to their performance review, making sure they are aware you will focus just as much on the soft skills as the hard skills.

You become a problem solver

Problem solving is a skill that has to be second nature to entrepreneurs. Cultivate that attitude in employees by giving them bigger responsibilities, and making them accountable for them forces them to be decisive leaders, rather than just a team player or a follower.

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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