Getting your people to be entrepreneurial

Jan 14, 2024

There are things firm owners can do to awaken the latent entrepreneurial spirit lying dormant in some (if not all) of their people.

When it comes to technical and design professionals, one thing we can probably all agree on is that no one goes into these fields because they are interested in business. If that (business) was their passion or interest, they would have pursued a business education. So my presumption is most – if not all – of these people get dragged into business and management roles, often uninterested or unprepared for them.

Yet sometimes, for a wide variety of reasons, the entrepreneurial fire inside them gets lit. Maybe some sort of inspiration hits them. Maybe it is because of a talk they heard or book they read or a successful person they met. Or maybe it’s out of necessity – maybe they end up unemployed and start a new firm, or become a partner in an existing firm. And then they become increasingly aware of the opportunity that sits in front of them to build a growing business that is going to become very valuable over time.

The next question for these entrepreneurial firm owners is how to get more of their people to think entrepreneurially. While there is no one “best way” or “best practice” that I am aware of to do this, there are definitely things that firm owners can do to help them awaken the latent entrepreneurial spirit lying dormant in some (if not all) of their people. Here are some of those things that aren’t that difficult to do:

  1. Get everyone involved in the business planning for their areas, or for the firm as a whole. Make sure that coming up with new services and how to launch them is a requirement for each line unit in your organization. Forcing them to be more innovative could help get them thinking more about the business versus just projects.
  2. Start a voluntary book club where you get to pick a book that’s a biography on a successful entrepreneur or a business success story that you provide to anyone who wants it, and meet weekly during lunch, or before or after work, to talk about it.
  3. Bring in entrepreneur guest speakers for “lunch and learn” meetings where they can talk about their lives and lessons learned. This might be a good way to ingratiate yourself with a current or potential client as well!
  4. Watch inspirational films about entrepreneurs, either real or fictional, and then discuss them. There are many of them you could show!
  5. Create an award that goes out monthly to someone in the firm who acted entrepreneurially, and award that publicly. Show that you value entrepreneurial behaviors.
  6. Sell small amounts of ownership to your key people, and allow them to finance up to 100 percent of their stock purchase over time through payroll deduction. Make them think more like owners because they are owners.
  7. Invite a different employee who is not on your board of directors to attend your board meetings each time they are held, to give people more exposure to strategy and business-related stuff than they would otherwise normally have.
  8. Encourage and support those people who show the most entrepreneurial orientations to further their education by enrolling in college entrepreneurship courses. You may be surprised at the offerings at your nearby business college or university.
  9. Mentor those who show the most potential. Spend time with them. Take them with you to meetings. Talk to them before and after work hours. Pose various business problems and opportunities to them to test their thinking.

Add to this list! Email me at with your additions and we will try to get them back out to our readers in a future communication!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.