I’m a strong believer that a great company is one that empowers its employees. I’m happy to present a byline by Jennifer Prosek , CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth. In this post, Jennifer highlights her three-step process for getting your army ready. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
The Great Recession sank hundreds of thousands of small businesses and it could have killed mine, too. But it didn’t. At a time when 65 percent of PR firms lost revenue, CJP Communications grew.
That happy outcome was the direct result of a strategy I had been percolating for several years. It began when I was working seven days a week and facing burnout. I was wearing myself out as CJP’s chief rainmaker, idea generator and crisis manager. I knew I needed to reconfigure my business and tap the tremendous talent of my employees.
That was the genesis of the “Army of Entrepreneurs™,” the business model that literally saved my business.
What is an Army of Entrepreneurs, exactly? It’s an internal force of committed, creative employees. It is also a management and leadership strategy. The old economy is dead; innovation and creativity are the new driving forces.
That’s where the Army model comes in. Every employee is empowered to develop an “owner’s mindset,” be entrepreneurial and become a powerful force for growth within the organization.
The Army model was developed in the context of growing a small business, but it works for big companies too. It’s also particularly relevant for women-owned businesses, which account for more than 10 million companies in the U.S., according to the National Association of Women Business Owners.
The Army’s flat management structure and focus on individual empowerment reinforces the culture of many women-owned businesses and helps establish a meritocracy, where employees can advance based on their abilities.
Virtually any business can develop its own Army of Entrepreneurs. The crux of the Army strategy is to create an incentive for employees that align the individual’s goals with those of the company.
To kick-start the Army, I introduced “Commission for LifeTM,” in which the employee who makes an introduction that results in a new client gets a percentage of the revenue for the life of the account.
An Army also needs the right culture, one that is open and transparent. People must be encouraged to think independently and take risks. “Management by empowerment” is essential.
The third essential Army component is a training program–a boot camp for entrepreneurs. What distinguishes boot camp from other training programs is that it’s not about teaching people the skills they need to do their jobs. It’s about how the business works and makes money.
While the economy is still uncertain and challenges remain, looking back, I’m struck by how a powerful team of motivated and entrepreneurial employees — not “order takers” in an owner-led business – saved CJP. That’s proof positive that an Army of Entrepreneurs is unstoppable.