Create an Entrepreneurial Gap

Give more than you get.

This is a saying I have used for years.  I want to be, and always encourage others to be, the person who gives the most.  Intuitively I know this approach is advantageous, but until I read a recent article (link below), I was unable to clearly express why that is.  Articulating the value of this idea is important because, once we understand the power of going “above and beyond” what our peers are doing, we can do so more generously and without letting bitterness creep in.

So let me tweak my saying “give more than you get” into “give more than you were paid to do.”  This small tweak better sets the stage for the idea of creating an entrepreneurial gap.  Actually, it is the recipe for creating an entrepreneurial gap.

Defining it more clearly, the entrepreneurial gap is the difference between your “span of control” and “your span of responsibility.”

Span of control includes the duties you were hired and paid to perform.  These are the tasks expected of you to meet company requirements.  While you may do these tasks exceedingly well, that does not create the entrepreneurial gap.   Again, the entrepreneurial gap is the difference between your span of control and your span of responsibility.

Span of responsibility includes all work efforts for which you have made yourself accountable and for which that accountability is acknowledged by your colleagues.  These may include tasks over which you have no formal control, and yet you became a source of authority by taking action and influencing others.

Here’s an example: You were hired to make and sell coffee and espresso drinks at a mall kiosk.  You are expected to know the kiosk menu and how to prepare each beverage.  Over time you recognize customers asking for pastries.  You decide to start inquiring from your customers what types of pastries they would prefer, you list these out and organize them by popularity of request.  Then you find a local baker who could prepare those exact pastries and is willing to sell outside of his storefront.  You also get a sense of cost per pastry vs sales price.  Once you have all of the details, you pitch your solid recommendation to management.

This is a basic example but it highlights the idea well.  Business owners should consider creating an incentive program that rewards employees for taking such initiative.

In all honesty some managers will love this and others won’t.  If your manager does, you may find yourself leading changes and increasing your responsibilities.  As your span of control expands, your compensation should increase.  Also you should contemplate new ways to grow your span of responsibility and create new entrepreneurial gaps.  This is a powerful and expansive position to be in and demonstrates your talent and capabilities.  This is the metaphorical gold mine of work place satisfaction!

If, on the other hand, your manager shuts you down, try to understand why and see if there are other opportunities for you to pursue.  However, stay true to yourself and do not stifle your ambitions!  If you find that your current place of employment does not make room for free-thinkers to excel, start looking for positions that embrace your motivation – there are many leaders looking for spirited contributors.

A final point of note – as you pursue your fantastic ideas, be aware that more and more ideas will come to you.  It is a beautiful snowball effect and you will need to use good judgment deciding which ideas to pursue.  You cannot do them all at once, but do not lose any of your ideas, because the right time to pursue them could be just around the corner.  Keep a list of these ideas either on your phone or in a pocket notebook.  And most importantly, enjoy the process!

Article referenced above can be found here: http://www.businessinsider.com/first-year-at-harvard-business-school-2015-5

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