Successfully set up your prject and get your boss’s approval
I remember listening to a speaker who said that “it’s hard to manage entrepreneurs”. Why you would ask? He explains that “entrepreneurs are always full of ideas”. If you’ve ever found yourself constantly making a list of ideas and adding to your ever ending to do list then, my friend, he is talking about you. Even more, those with entrepreneurial traits don’t just like to have a vision or idea, they also like to execute and implement those ideas.
The notion is that entrepreneurs have to go out there and conquer the world has evolved to entrepreneurs conquer the world through their employers. The latter is called intrapreneur. A simple definition I found here defines an intrapreneur as an employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation’s usual routines or protocols.
So how do you get about proposing an idea to your boss and getting their buy in?
Have an idea
Brilliant! First things first – you must have an idea! How do you approach a senior leader within your firm and tell him about yourself without having an idea to bring to the table? Why should he/she listen to you? Carve time within his/her busy schedule to speak to you? Have an idea – not a complicated one. You should be able to explain your idea to a 10 year old and even more in one sentence. If you’re able to define your idea in one phrase then your boss / sponsor would be able to repeat the same sentence to others.
Build a business case
This may sound very corporate but you need to build a business case i.e. the why is very important. Have you read the book “Start with why”. It clearly illustrates why your reason for doing or building anything is important and brings that into life with examples of companies that have done it well, such as Apple Inc. You can have a very detailed or simple but accurate business case. It should be reasonable and easy to read and understand. We can be tempted to be very analytical and go into deep level of detail. It all depends on who will be holding your business case. What would they like to see? What’s in it for them? What’s their interest? By putting yourself in reader’s shoe you can identify areas you will need to prioritise when writing your business case.
Identify a sponsor
Once you have a business case, look into your network and research key sponsors for your initiative. It’s easier if your sponsor knows you and you have mutual areas of interest. If you already have an established relationship, this allows you to tailor your business case appropriately. Overtime, I’ll try to write in detail on how you identify a sponsor and scenarios that can occur. Once identified, contact your sponsor and schedule a meeting. Briefly mention about your idea and the motive for setting up the meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I suggest print a copy of your business case or artefacts that you have prepared if it’s a face to face meeting. If it’s a phone call, then email your business case to your potential sponsor. Make the necessarily last minute set up to ensure a successful meeting. Start with a story. It could be your story, or the story of someone whose life you changed. Whatever you do, tell a story. This will get your proposal to stand out and make an emotional connection. Describe what you do. This is your mission statement. It explains why you do what you do. You to have really great benefits for the sponsor you’re approaching. Don’t forget the financials! How much are you asking for? How much should your sponsor invest in your project and what’s the ROI? You have to prepare for questions around the company’s benefits. Describe your demographics to your sponsor and expect that it ends positively. If it doesn’t, seek another sponsor and take into account things you would have done better and make improvements as you continue on your search for sponsor.
Build a team, execute and manage properly
Have you got your sponsor who is ready to commit financially? The next step is to begin to build a team together. Working on a project while doing your full time job can be hard but it’s also very rewarding if done well. Building a team makes it easier, fun and educative. You get to learn from each other, share ideas, build and manage a team. And of course see your team thrive. Based on the plan you have put together, share your idea and get the buy-in from your team as well. Ensure that people feel the liberty to be part of something great and bigger. Allow your team to also select key areas to “own” in the process and project. From my experience, people are most invested when they have ownership.
Lastly, reach out to your sponsor and provide bi-monthly or monthly updates to your sponsor to keep them in the loop. Did I mention that you can have multiple sponsors as well? Yes you can.
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What tips have you used in building your business or entrepreneurial project?