Entrepreneurship is on the Rise, Here’s How Employer Brand Leaders Can Take Advantage3 min read.
The call to entrepreneurship has always been tempting. I mean, who hasn’t toyed with the idea of a rise and grind, be-your-own-boss lifestyle at least once in their career?
But with new technologies and innovations, the barrier to entry for budding entrepreneurs is lower than ever, and the cohort is growing and diversifying at an unprecedented rate.
While an uptick in entrepreneurship is normal during times of economic uncertainty, data shows that the increase is more consistent and aggressive than usual. Like, 5 million new businesses created in the U.S in 2022 (a 42% increase from pre-pandemic levels), type aggressive.
So, what does this mean for businesses? Is everyone just upping sticks and spurning the day job?
Well, not quite - many new entrepreneurs are engaged in side-hustles alongside their full-time gig - but one thing is abundantly clear: there is a growing thirst in the workforce for the qualities that being an entrepreneur can offer.
Are side hustles a threat to productivity?
Many leaders see their employees having outside ventures as a threat to their performance within the company, concerned that anything diverting their attention will compromise commitment to their salaried roles, but this is an unproductive view.
It neglects to acknowledge that people have plenty diverting their attention anyway. They have kids, pets, hobbies, fires to put out; they have, in other words, lives.
If some of your employees possess entrepreneurial spirit, as in, they are creative and self-motivated, this is not something to shy away from, rather it is something to be nurtured.
Your question as an employer should not be, “How can I stop entrepreneurial spirit?” but “How can I harness it?”
Here are the top things that newbie entrepreneurs are seeking through their ventures, and how you can integrate them into your employee experience to boost engagement and retention.
What entrepreneurial employees are craving from work
The ability to do what they do best
In a Gallup study, 58% of people cited the ability to do what they do best as the number one reason they would move to a new job.
It’s simple, really. People derive a sense of identity from their skills and, when given the chance to exercise them, they enjoy the work, find it engaging and want to do more of it.
Takeaway: Make the extra effort to understand what excites your people about work and think about how you can maximise those elements of the role for them. It should be a collaborative effort between you and your employees. Conduct one-to-ones. Let them speak freely about the parts of the job they enjoy most and any processes they think could be done differently.
A small, positive tweak to someone’s day job carried throughout the year can compound and make a big difference to their overall experience.
In a survey conducted by Gusto on the newly self-employed, 63 percent of respondents said they made the change in pursuit of greater flexibility.
Cries for new ways of working hit a crescendo after the pandemic, and plenty of companies have already witnessed the fallout from trying to get workers to return to the office full-time.
Takeaway: Whether through flexy Fridays, a hybrid model, or altered hours so they can take the kids to school, offering people ways of working in a way that offers them more freedom to design their schedules will satisfy their desire for greater flexibility.
This one will come as no surprise, but amidst economic uncertainty, many are turning to side hustles and full-time hustles to enhance their income, with 41% citing financial stability or supplemental income as their primary motivation, up from 24% last year.
Entrepreneurial types, having big ambitions, may be more restless than the average employee when they feel their career development puttering out.
According to a survey by Deloitte, when asked what would encourage them to leave a job, respondents cited a lack of career progression as the top reason.
Takeaway: Once you’ve identified your star players, don’t just let them stagnate. Prime your internal mobility, offer employees regular opportunities for advancement and they will feel a greater sense of control over their own success rate and income.
Nearly half of entrepreneurs aged 35 to 54 confessed to starting a business due to career burnout.
That’s nearly half of entrepreneurs essentially admitting they ran away from the stresses of their previous roles, as opposed to running towards their ambitions.
Burnout is rife right now and can only be aided in an environment where workers’ psychological safety is considered. That is, where their wellbeing is respected, and they feel empowered to speak their minds.
Takeaway: Encourage open and honest communication, schedule regular check-ins and stay open to feedback and you will instantly mitigate any feelings of burnout your team are experiencing.
Economic headwinds and mass layoffs have workers at all levels stewing over the same question: “Is my job secure?”
In fact, 34 percent of new entrepreneurs cited ‘stability’ as a key factor in their decision to branch out beyond the nine-to-five.
Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding your people that the company is in a solid position. A lot of employers don't do it but sharing that the business is thriving is a simple way to reassure employees that their jobs are safe.
Takeaway: Communicate where you’re currently at, what your plans are, and share your vision to further build the stability of the business.
One last thing...
It’s not about clipping wings or stifling your employees’ ambition, it’s about harnessing the key drivers and helping your employees to thrive in the process.
There’s no reason why employees having part-time outside ventures should harm their performance within your company, and, if you play your cards right, you will prevent them from leaving altogether by satisfying their desire for greater autonomy.