Why Every Employee Should Have a Business Owner Mentality

What’s the minimum I need to do in order to keep my job?

I wonder if I really need to do that.

How much paid vacation do I get?

These are, unfortunately, the thoughts and questions that are creeping into the minds of more and more employees. Complacency appears to be a growing attitude among the workforce as people forget the importance of implementing every aspect of their job descriptions on a daily basis. Employees are getting too comfortable in their positions, forgetting the necessary roles that they personally play in growing their companies’ bottom lines.

In order to turn that attitude around, employees have to begin thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs within their own companies. They need to realize that they are the CEOs of their brands and positions. After spending a few years working with startups after working in corporate America, I have realized that there are five common attributes that separate employees in a startup from those working for an established company.

1. Pride

Entrepreneurs take pride in their businesses, as they are just that: “their” businesses. They know that they are responsible for their companies’ growth and, likewise, responsible for their failure. Every aspect of a proud owner’s business is being taken care of; everything he does may not bring immediate results, but it’s still growing his brand and business.

Take pride in everything you do. Whether or not you think it’s noticeable, employers are always paying attention to your work ethic and attitude, as well as the quality of your work.

2. Responsibility

Have you ever heard a business owner say, “Oh, someone else will take care of that,” or “That’s not my job?” If you have, then I’m assuming that particular business isn’t around any longer. All successful business owners know that they must do everything necessary in order to keep their companies moving in the right direction.

You must be prepared for changing responsibilities. Be prepared to take on whatever is asked of you. As an employee, you have to realize that you are there to help the company grow in any capacity necessary. Sure, you were hired for a specific role, but you’ll be considered much more valuable if they know you’re willing to do what it takes to help grow the entire company, rather than just worrying about yourself.

3. Accountability

Entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of saying they will do something and then not doing it. If you don’t follow through on something as a business owner, it will cost your business in the long run.

Be accountable to your employer, your peers, and, most importantly, yourself. If you say you are going to do something or are assigned a task, make sure you follow through with it. The growth of your business often depends on a lot of little things working together to achieve a big result.

I worked for a small food service directory, handling all of their marketing and sales while I was in college. Naturally, we needed to get flyers into the hands of students who would be interested in using our service. I asked a few interns for help with the guerrilla marketing campaign, and the first person who volunteered to help with this task was the CEO/owner of the company. Although he had a hundred other things to do, he was not above pounding the pavement to advertise his great service.

4. Work Ethic

The expression “Actions speak louder than words” could not apply more accurately than it does to business owners. Words, visions, and ideas mean nothing without execution. Entrepreneurs have to work harder and smarter than those around them. With the clear responsibility this entails, it’s no secret that only 7 out of 10 businesses survive their first year.

You have to be hungry and driven in order to work harder and be more efficient than your competitors. This includes competition inside and outside your company. If you possess a true passion to do everything in your capacity to help grow the business, then you put yourself in position for success.

Working with multiple startups, I realized quickly that the term “required work hours” was nonexistent in this setting. Sure, there were typical times when most people arrived at the office, but I noticed that once 5:00 hit, people weren’t running for the door. Everyone stayed as long as it took to finish what they were working on. Some days, they left at 7:00; other days, people left at 4:00. It was all about meeting the company’s needs.

5. Knowledge

Hard work is essential, but working smart is the key that gives today’s successful entrepreneurs an edge. You cannot be afraid to continuously research your field to keep yourself current. Entrepreneurs realize that in order to grow personally, and as a company, they need to constantly educate themselves on the industry, their competition, and how they can reinvent themselves as a more effective and efficient brand.

What applies to entrepreneurs must also apply to employees. Don’t fall into the trap of complacency and entitlement. Being a Nine-to-Fiver is just not good enough anymore. If you really want to succeed and help your business grow, you must focus on growing yourself first. To truly be good at what you do, you have to continue educating yourself by seeking out mentors, experiences, and resources. Invest in yourself like you would a business – it is your business, after all.

Ryan O’Connell is the Director of Professional Branding for Digital Talent Agents, an online PR company that helps experts build their personal and company brands through producing high-quality content for reputable publications.


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