Maintaining an Entrepreneurial Spirit in the C-Suite

Adapt, change, or die. No one knows this statement to be true more than the executive teams in the c-suite. They know that when companies stop adapting or changing - they die.

That's why c-suite executives are always pushing the envelope. They know that if they lose that drive, the hurry-up feeling, the company they have been tasked to lead will lose that feeling too.

It's why c-suite leaders must always keep an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to business, and instill that entrepreneurial spirit company wide. My friends Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of the iconic Barefoot Wine brand, wrote a book on their experiences starting a brand from their laundry room called The Barefoot Spirit. They talk about the challenges and opportunities they faced as they built Barefoot Wine and how they capitalized on every one of them through entrepreneurship. They share how every employee, from front-line to CEO, needs to come at every situation with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The best c-suite executives, ones like Richard Branson or Elon Musk, never stop looking at opportunities through their entrepreneurial glasses. How can other c-suite leaders embody their spirit and charge their teams to do the same?

  1. Think big, act bigger. I repeat that mantra to my teams on a daily basis. Think big, act bigger. Don't set limits for yourself, especially the kind that are completely imaginary. If you're working on a proposal, go big! The worse that will happen is a paper cut and negotiations. Pitching your business? Go big! The worse that will happen is they turn you down and you have to go for a second round.
  2. Consider every opportunity. People will reach out to you with ideas, partnerships, problems, and hurdles. Consider every one of those an opportunity to further your business. You don't have to accept every one of them, but consider them and where they might take you before immediately turning them down.
  3. Help others. Remember, if you take the elevator to the top, you need to send it back down for others. I get requests every day to help others, and I rarely say turn any of them down. You never know how your small act of kindness might help someone succeed and thus, repay you in turn.
  4. Take educated risks. Companies don't grow by sitting comfortably on the sidelines. They grow by taking educated risks. Have a good idea on the ROI before you make new investments. Know what you want in a partnership before signing on the dotted line. Taking educated risks can pay off big time for your company.
  5. Act. C-Suite leaders who embody the entrepreneurial spirit act. When they get a great idea, they act on it, and they don't let others do all the work. It seems simple, but acting when others don't set great c-suite leaders apart.