Three ways to encourage entrepreneurship

Written by
Dorie Clark
Duke Corporate Education

18 Sep 2018

18 Sep 2018 • by Dorie Clark

Encourage your people to be bold and creative to reap the benefits of an innovative workforce, urges Duke University's professor Dorie Clark.

1. Let people know it’s acceptable to become an entrepreneur

In the past, many leaders were horrified to discover an employee was ‘moonlighting’, viewing it as a sign they planned to leave, or were using company time improperly.

Today’s savviest leaders see entrepreneurial experimentation as a plus. For example, I recently profiled a nurse, Lenny Achan, who ultimately became the head of communications for his hospital after his boss discovered he had been developing iPhone apps on the side, and was impressed by his initiative.

2. Talk about your own failures

Entrepreneurial thinking involves developing new ideas, so inevitably, some will fail.

If the ‘failure penalty’ is seen as too steep, no one will risk trying. Set the tone by being upfront about your own mistakes and miscalculations.

That’s what entrepreneur Jared Kleinert did when nobody purchased his online course. Instead of slinking away from failure, he wrote a post for Forbes about what he had learned from the experience.

When you’re open about your imperfections, it gives others permission to be honest about theirs.

3. Apply old lessons in new ways

“How do you sell effectively online?” is a question marketers have pondered for years. Jeff Walker is one of the most successful internet marketers today – his students have sold more than $500m worth of online products – on the strength of the ‘product launch formula’ he developed to answer that question.

However, he didn’t invent his formula out of whole cloth but borrowed and updated best practice from the old-school world of direct response marketing (involving selling via long letters).

Once broadband became ubiquitous, Walker realised you could sell more effectively with video than text. But he didn’t want to lose the best part of direct mail copywriting – the immersive narrative that made readers curious to know more about a product.

Thus, Walker took long sales letters and turned them into a choreographed video series with a similar narrative progression – the “sideways sales letter” – flipping the typical axis (length) into a horizontal one (time). The best entrepreneurial thinkers realise they don’t have to invent completely new answers to new challenges. Sometimes, you just have to apply old insights in new ways.

Duke Corporate Education