You’ve got some ridiculously hot talent on your team: Find it, nurture it, keep it.

By Erin Wasson (VP Marketing, UrbanBound)

We live in a culture that celebrates – maybe even worships – the entrepreneur. There’s something captivating about watching an individual with a passion chase an idea they believe in more than anything else.

We view entrepreneurs as equal parts crazy and ambitious – crazy enough to think they can change the world and ambitious enough that they just might.

But many great entrepreneurs aren’t pulling all-nighters in Silicon Valley garages or couchsurfing in New York apartments. They’re holding down “ordinary” jobs at companies all across America.

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, defines a startup as “a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” Sound a bit like your job? There’s at least one entrepreneur at the helm of every startup, and if Ries’ definition is to be believed, those folks might already be working for you, as developers, project managers, marketers and product designers.

So how do you hang on to them? How can you possibly retain the creative, passionate, ambitious entrepreneurs – the “intrapreneurs” – at your company? Here are a few tips.

Spot the Intrapreneur

You can’t retain your intrapreneurs if you can’t identify them. The main motivation of an intrapreneur isn’t money. They are motivated by the ability to affect positive change. They are not afraid to ask questions and the it’s-always-been-done-that-way approach is not good enough for them.

They are the dreamers, the ones who come up with imaginative and unique ideas and can make you see things you would never have thought of on your own.

Create a Culture of Visionaries

Reflect on the opportunities your employees have to innovate within their role. As a leader, your job is to inspire your innovators and creative thinkers to stand up and stand out. Provide them with the right opportunities to take a leadership role and see projects through from beginning to end.

Most importantly, give your team the chance to see the big picture. Your intrapreneurs want to know that their work is having a material impact. Giving them that visibility can mean all the difference.

Maintain Open Communication

Transparency and an open work environment are key to allowing the intrapreneurs at your company to flourish.  

Establish a company culture where your employees are encouraged to provide feedback, good and bad. If your intrapreneurs aren’t encouraged to share their ideas, there’s a good chance they’ll head for the door.

At UrbanBound, we hold monthly growth team meetings. Everyone in the company is encouraged to join and have the opportunity to work on projects that directly affect the growth and improvement of our company culture.

Give Them Opportunities to Take Calculated Risks

Entrepreneurship is inherently full of risk, with the tradeoff being the opportunity for a dramatic upside. This is also true within a larger organization. Give your intrapreneurs the chance to take risks and own the outcome, whether a success or failure.

A healthy culture mix at your company needs to include the intrapreneurs. These powerful assets are hidden in plain sight and demand the opportunity to shine. Unleashing their talents will give you a tremendous competitive edge and result in a happier, more productive workforce. It’s your job to make that happen.

What are your tips for retaining startup talent?

Photo courtesy of UrbanBound.