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    Why everyone should hire an entrepreneur

    Mark Fells

    6 Dec 2023

    In a corporate world that’s often cautious about unconventional paths, entrepreneurs can be overlooked in the recruitment process or seen as risky hires. At Zebra, we think this is a big mistake.

    By passing over entrepreneurs, you’re missing out on unique skills and characteristics that are invaluable assets in any corporate environment. Their inclusion in teams isn’t just a bold move, but a strategically sound one for businesses aiming to thrive in the digital era.

    Digital has accelerated growth

    The world of business has changed exponentially since the rise of digital. Big corporates often had their roots in an owner-founder who started the business decades, if not centuries, before. Think of Boots, M&S, Guinness, Whitbread, Cadburys, Clarks, Tetley…

    By the end of the 20th century, digital had accelerated that growth process, with founders still running, or only recently departing their corporate mega businesses. Meta, Amazon, Apple and Google are all high profile examples of this.

    This shift has led us to a common mindset, which is compounded by the media, that all entrepreneurs are world-changing billionaires. We tend to think of them as a small group, and very different from those who run more traditional businesses.

    The unicorn — more common than you think

    While there may only be a handful of rarefied industry titans who grab the world headlines, in reality, we’re surrounded by entrepreneurs. In the UK alone, small businesses employ 61% of the working population and account for 36% of UK business revenues*. They may not be Californian tech moguls, but they have some very powerful attributes:

    Commercial understanding

    All entrepreneurs understand the fundamental equation of business: money in minus costs out equals cash flow and profit. They have to know this stuff inside out because that’s how they pay themselves, and any teams they may have. It's how they pay their suppliers and how they keep trading. It's frankly how they pay their mortgages. In short, they are experts in commercial because they live and breathe it.


    Let's face it, we can all study business theory, but until you have ‘skin in the game’, that’s all it is - just theory. It doesn’t take the same level of bravery when it's not your money or your livelihood on the line.


    A customer, a sale, or a cost saving can come from anywhere. A new market or new product might be just around the corner. Entrepreneurs cross disciplines and remits because ultimately, everything is their job. This makes them intrinsically curious and driven to find new and better ways to do things.

    Proactive drive

    Entrepreneurs move quickly. They are risk takers, but their risks are calculated. They understand that there is no such thing as perfect, so they move when the probability is positive, rather than seeking 100% certainty. They’re not interested in bureaucracy either — it just slows them down.


    Entrepreneurs are hit by challenges and problems on a daily basis — a tax bill they didn't expect, an overdue invoice, a delayed delivery, a broken down vehicle or even a blocked loo! They’ve all had a ‘dark night of the soul’ when they will have literally sat with their head in their hands wondering what on earth they are doing. That makes them prepared to question themselves and their methods. It motivates them to find better ways to work, and they bounce back quickly after hitting problems.

    They don't all stay self employed

    For many different reasons, entrepreneurs often decide to move into a corporate role. Perhaps they want a more stable income, or want to try their hand in a bigger environment. Or maybe they just couldn't make it work — after all, times are tough for every business. So it could be that an entrepreneur appears in a list of candidates on your desk in the near future.

    If that’s the case, do yourself a favour and interview them ASAP. Your corporate training teaches you to see a gap in their CV between ‘proper’ jobs as a negative. Instead, dig deeper into the time they’ve spent running a business. Because when you employ an entrepreneur, what you’ll get is a team member with well-rounded commercial experience, who’ll see the business differently, cut through the nonsense, move quickly and get results.

    • Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy 2021

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