Ask the expert: How to bring entrepreneurial ideas to management

  • Updated: June 9, 2013 - 1:27 PM

Question

I launched my own business in 2012 in the legal marketing field doing pay per performance marketing/lead generation in the legal industry. It failed within a year primarily due to undercapitalization. I approached one of my competitors in the legal marketing space and moved to Chicago. I still have the heart and mind of an entrepreneur. What are some tips for bringing entrepreneurial ideas and strategies to management?

James Bellefeuille, james@attorneysync.com

 

Answer

Undertaking an “intrapreneurial” project is a significant decision for a firm. It risks not only time and money, but it can distract from larger goals and divert energy away from core operations. An “intrapreneurial” idea needs to provide not only potential growth and profits, but synergy with the existing firm. It needs to leverage the skills, talents, capabilities and assets of the firm enabling it to generate higher returns — it must fit.

In order to present an idea that “fits” you have to get inside management’s head. What are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish? What are their key objectives for the firm? Growth? Profitability? Management is your only potential investor, so you must meet their needs.

So how do you learn management’s goals? You read, listen and ask questions. Any potential “intrapreneur” needs a deep understanding of the firm and its market. He or she needs to understand the whole firm, not just the job or group. This means reading all the strategic planning documents you can get your hands on and talking with sales, marketing, operations to gain an understanding of how the various functions come together to create a competitive advantage. Meet with key decisionmakers to gain their insights on the firm’s strategy, market position, challenges and opportunities. Use this understanding to position your idea, so that it “fits.” Of course, beyond fit you still have to present a compelling value proposition and a bulletproof business case.

About the author: David Deeds, director, Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship, Schulze Chair of Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas

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