The public opinion on entrepreneurship has evolved dramatically since I first got in the game. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, entrepreneurs were outcasts; weirdos who just didn’t fit in with the mainstream professionals. By the late ‘90s, entrepreneurship meant getting stupidly rich off of a terrible business model. Remember Pets.com? By the 2000s, entrepreneurs had made dropping out of college cool (ahem, Zuck). These days, entrepreneurship is embraced as a force multiplier; a change agent for the betterment of humanity, society, and the world. Entrepreneurs can be credited with improving population health, reducing poverty, bettering education, increasing efficiencies of economies. Not bad!At Smashing Boxes, we’re not content to just be a part of this entrepreneurial movement. We want to lead it. To that end, we encourage and actively cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit across the team. Why? Because we know that entrepreneurial thinking helps us innovate, disrupt ourselves and stay relevant for the next 20 years. How? By making the entrepreneurial spirit a cornerstone of our culture.The entrepreneurial spirit has transformed my company, Smashing Boxes. We started as a Ruby shop in 2010 and have since become a leader in mobile, wearables and connected devices. What was once a two person operation became a company of 70, in two different cities, a broad service offering, a spin off code school, an apprenticeship program, and an expanded focus on civic innovation through our service design practice.So, what is the entrepreneurial spirit? It’s an unrelenting drive to push limits, reject the status quo, throw caution to the wind, and see opportunity where others see problems. By explicitly making it a part of our culture,the entrepreneurial spirit is hugely impactful. It leads to creative tension, constant innovation, and breakthrough ideas.No matter what industry you’re in, there are things you can do right now to be more entrepreneurial. You can create free time and space for experimentation and learning. You can make professional development a priority by providing mentorship and teaching opportunities. I can’t say enough about the power of community building as a way to gain perspective on your industry, peers and surroundings.It all starts with a clear set of values. We recruit people whose own values are aligned with the company’s. On their first day, every employee learns about our values and how they can support our larger company mission. If we’re all following the same set of values, we’re all on the same page. Those values influence they way we work together. Open communication, a flat organization structure, and small, collaborative teams make sure the entrepreneurial spirit is intentionally spread throughout the company. It’s not enough to have ping pong tables and beer on tap. To truly activate the entrepreneurial spirit, we have to put our money where our mouth is.The two primary agents of entrepreneurial change are Smashing Labs and Task Forces. Each week our teams have Labs time to hone new skills, which invariably become new services. Policy and procedure issues are addressed in Task Forces. These small groups make recommendations that benefit the entire company. Entrepreneurial employees are innovative employees, and innovation makes clients happy.We’re not the only ones who have made entrepreneurship a part of our company fabric. There are others that have inspired us. Like Ideo, my favorite entrepreneurial design company, who are on a decades-long quest to change the world through design thinking. And Tesla. They’ve created breakthrough technologies that have disrupted a quintessential industry. Or Zappos -- they’ve redefined customer service and company culture.Entrepreneurs and those around them realize that no problem is impossible to solve. They do not accept the status quo when it needs to be changed. Entrepreneurs are better positioned than ever to make big, radical, drastic moves that make our lives a whole lot better.We design, develop, and ship custom software for web, mobile, and connected applications and experiences. Get in touch.
Smashing Boxes is a creative technology lab that partners with clients, taking an integrated approach to solving complex business problems. We fuse strategy, design, and engineering with a steady dose of entrepreneurial acumen and just the right amount of disruptive zeal. Simply put, no matter what we do, we strive to do it boldly. Let's talk today!
The Center for Koru Mindfulness® team shares their journey to first-time tech entrepreneurship.
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