Technology entrepreneurship, fuels the dreams of wealth creation and plush living for many of those who have drank the Africa rising potion and looked toward the knowledge and service economy as the green field opportunity. While the two leading incentives to entrepreneurship do not always manifest themselves after the hours of caffeine filled binge working sessions are clocked, how a team works together across all fronts is a key determinant to the long haul success of an enterprise; applicable to both startups and established enterprises looking to maintain their edge.
In my decade long pursuits in entrepreneurship I have interacted with many business owners and their teams with two peculiar habits that seem to have found new life in the recent cohort of graduates from our tertiary institutions going back about four years. The first habit is one I call the forked corporate project, which takes on the following form. Company A lands a contract to do job Y and staffers from company X seek out work based on stripes earned on job Y and deliver it to company B for a cut. The second is moonlighting.
Developing an intrapreneurship culture that is embraced equally by the employer and employee is important. For employers, a key role that should be on very job description, is that of sales and business development, with clarity on compensation for efforts that successfully close. Everyone is in the business of sales, it does not matter if one is pushing code or interfacing with the client. For employees, sometimes it is difficult to understand the value and support that process plus team brings and get carried away by the possible windfall of moonlighting on a project that almost made it to the corporate table. While moonlighting is a socially accepted way of work, its evil twin comes to the fore when employer time is actively applied towards diverting the corporate opportunity, often via an outfit covertly presented to the prospective client.
Intraprenurship can satisfy everyone’s needs and ambitions and possibly be applied toward the same vision. There are options available, starting with concepts such as twenty percent time, where employees are free to table opportunities and ideas that they have come across, conjured up or find interesting, comprehensive employee stock ownership plans to spinning out subsidiaries where the complementary benefit is clear.
Clearly better than going solo or having your human resource in constant flux.