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The Importance of Retaining an Entrepreneurial Spirit in a Large Organization

A while back, I had lunch with a good friend of mine named Hollis Haff who is the Pastor Emeritus at New Community Church in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Hollis is also an old Athletes in Action guy, and he was the minister to the Pittsburgh Steelers back in the 70’s. As a matter of fact, he delivered the eulogy when Hall of Fame quarterback Mike Webster passed away back in 2002. He is really a great guy, an avid learner and very much a student of leadership. In fact, he often says that the difference between you today and five years from now is the people you meet and the books you read. I have always found that to be interesting. Not only is Hollis very much a student of leadership, he is also a student of entrepreneurship.

The Importance of Retaining an Entrepreneurial Spirit in a Large Organization

Interestingly enough, starting a church is very entrepreneurial. We don't often think of a church as a business, but when you think about it, if you start a church you are developing a market. You're getting members.  You're raising capital. You're building infrastructure. You're building a following. You're building your brand. Then, you have to look internally and build your team -- develop successors and hire people with specific skills. All very much like a business. 

To be honest, I had never really thought about the entrepreneurial side of this type of business before. As he was talking to me, I was impressed by how much Hollis is always studying, learning, reading and trying to get better as a leader. He was telling me about a leadership conference he had just attended that talked about a Harvard study that caught my attention. This study looked at entrepreneurship and what sets entrepreneurs apart from leaders in larger organizations. I don't have all the details of the study, but the basic point was that individually, entrepreneurs are as different as snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. They all go about things a bit differently. However, there was one trait that was almost universal in this study, and that is that entrepreneurs maintain a bias for action. They get an idea, see a way to make it happen and act upon it. They go for it, and then make adjustments as needed. It's an iterative process: act, and then adjust. Act again and adjust again. 

Soloprenuers need to behave in the same way. Take action, monitor your results, adjust and act again!

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