Why & How to hire entrepreneurial minded employees

Why & How to hire entrepreneurial minded employeesThese days, one of the most important requirements of our clients when they look out for new people is that “Candidate must be entrepreneurial”.

It is fascinating to see this change. Few years back, a person who had left job and tried starting a business was viewed negatively if he or she ever tried to return to full-time employment. Today, I can say the winds are blowing in the opposite direction.

Before we look at how to hire entrepreneurial minded employees, let’s discuss why so many business owners want them (or intrapreneurs as they are called) in their organizations.

Why the sudden urge to get entrepreneurs on board?

Comfort with change

Many business owners realize that their business is going to be obsolete if they don’t keep tweaking their model with changing customer needs. Employees with entrepreneur mindset are comfortable with constant changes in business as well as in their job responsibilities.

Fire & Forget

As the business grows, a business owner or entrepreneur himself cannot keep check on every new initiative. Entrepreneurial minded employees bring on board the energy, resourcefulness & the drive needed to take up an idea or an initiative and then find a way to get things done.

More set of eyes to identify new opportunities

Let me explain this point with an example. An accountant working with one of our current client (in printing business) used to read every print job given to them by Pharma clients. Eventually, his knowledge about medicine increased to such an extent that the Pharma companies became comfortable to outsource their medical knowledge management business (now worth several crores) to our client.

How to spot entrepreneurial minded employees?

Past examples

Entrepreneurs are doers by nature. So, employees who claim that they are entrepreneurial minded must have past examples to substantiate their claim.  Examples can be instances of taking complete ownership of a business initiative or starting their own business. (If they have failed in business, it is important they are very clear and rational about why they failed. Learning from failures must be evident.)

Check problem solving approach

It is very difficult to judge entrepreneurial mindset in a single meeting or an interview. Ideally, you should give candidates an assignment or a business idea to prepare a business case on. True entrepreneurs will go back to the real world and check ground realities of executing the idea you proposed. Using this approach, we have found that difference between entrepreneurial minded & non- entrepreneurial minded is displayed quite starkly. One candidate (who went through this test) spoke with the target audience and past entrepreneurs who had tried the proposed idea and then determined that it wasn’t currently feasible in India. But, he didn’t stop there. He tweaked the original concept to an idea which he thought was better aligned with market need and in his presentation proposed next steps to validate his concept. He even came up with a great business name after checking domain availability. (He got hired!) Non- entrepreneurial candidates used Google as their main information source and came back with details that we already knew about.

Dissect the compensation that candidates ask for

We have observed that most non-entrepreneurial candidates are pretty rigid on their compensation & benefit needs. They need the company to have a great brand and posh office. Entrepreneurial minded candidates are quite the opposite. They understand the relationship between risk & reward very well.  So, they are happy to have their compensation divided into lifestyle expenses (usually equivalent to past salary) and performance related compensation. In fact, I have started believing that the type of compensation that a candidate seeks is an indicator of whether the person is entrepreneurial minded.

Check if candidate understands of how your company makes money and how their costs will be accounted for

Once we started asking this question, we were surprised how many candidates were completely ignorant of this. While this might not be a definite indicator of being entrepreneurial minded, I have found substantial co-relation.

 Accessing entrepreneurial mindset of the candidates is just half of the puzzle. The second (and often the tougher) half is how to nurture such employees and empower them to deliver once they join your business. However, this point is big topic in itself and I wish to address it in a separate article.

At this juncture, I must mention a book named Army of Entrepreneurs by Jenifer Prosek who herself is an entrepreneur. She has described in this book how she was able to induct people having entrepreneur mind set, motivate, train and reward them.

You can also read another article that I have written (How to spot future business leaders in your company) which related to this topic.

So, are you looking forward to hire entrepreneurial minded employees in your business? If yes, how do you plan to access their entrepreneurial capabilities?

I am looking forward to hear your opinion & comments.



Photo Credit: Lightbulb photo from http://crowdfundinsider.com used under Creative Commons License.
Army of Entrepreneurs: Prosek, Jenifer - http://www.amazon.com/Army-Entrepreneurs-Empowered-Workforce-Exceptional/dp/081441673X


  • I loved your article but feel that its only a handful of employers who currently hire past entrepreneurs. They have a fear that this employee is going to leave them whe they are stable enough to get back to business.

    Although this is a wrong min dset but unfortunately the order of the day. Thanks for the gr8 article.

    Amit GuptaDecember 12, 2013
  • Dear Mr Amit, Thanks for your response .I agree with you that the majority of business owners still look for fresh talent with ’employee mindset .We also observe that this trend is fast changing especially for all those business owners who are on fast track. Thanks once again .Looking forward to see your feedback in future as well.

    Deepak PatilDecember 12, 2013
  • Very nice article- to the point and informative
    Regds, Roopali

    Roopali kDecember 13, 2013

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