May 28, 2023


A boss expects results. A mentor inspires them. If you’re the latter, you know that the employees with the most potential, the ones you hired because they had that certain spark may also be the same ones who eventually leave to start their own enterprises. Non-competes are over-rated. 
It doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, one of the greatest assets you can find in any employee is an entrepreneurial spirit.  The key is being able to identify which staff members are the real deal and then finding ways to encourage and cultivate those talents within the company.  Corporations that seek entrepreneurial spirits and reward them for following their instincts are far less likely to lose these valuable human resources than those who don’t. 
Long before I owned my own company, the bosses who supported my inner-entrepreneur not only benefitted by it when I worked for them, after I left, the new departments that I’d created and resulting revenue streams continued to thrive.  It was a win-win for everyone. I got valuable experience and was able to fast-track my career in the entertainment business by building upon those achievements, and the companies found new markets through the innovations I introduced.   
As a talent agent and manager, I’ve learned that the most ingenious and industrious employees will do much more for your bottom line if they put their corporate lens away and instead navigate opportunity like an entrepreneur. 
Here are some things that I always reinforce to my staff with suggestions on how you can bring out the inner-entrepreneur in your employees: 
I also tell my staff to ask themselves these questions regularly, and while they work well in show business, they are equally if not more relevant for other industries:  
Now, let’s talk about assistants.  I look for résumés that reflect an entrepreneurial spirit early on. For example, when I see a résumé in which someone did a summer internship in high school, started a teen blog, or did anything creative or different, it piques my interest. I automatically expect a good work ethic, but the kid who’s already starting to show the signs of a future entrepreneur, that’s the résumé that stands out. Having grown up with social media, today’s generation has an advantage. I want to take that young person with a natural command of social media and integrating the latest technology, teach her or him how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to those skills. What used to be a generation gap is now a bridge. 
I also like to be transparent and honest with a potential assistant hire right from the start.  Before anyone commits, we have a frank conversation about what they want out of this job and what I’ll need from them. We discuss our mutual responsibilities should we exceed one another’s expectations, and what they’ll be if we don’t and we agree to trial period, usually one year. I make sure they understand that if they work for me, together we will be vested in their future, not just their future with my company; there’s a big difference between the two. 
Instead of limiting their job to only administrative duties, I offer active mentorship and the option to work on projects that let them practice and develop their skills. I also promise to help them in whatever area of entertainment they choose. At the end of the agreed-upon term, if it’s going well and they want to stay on, we build from there. If not, that’s okay too. For those last few months, the assistant helps me find and train a new assistant, and in return, I help him or her get the job they want. No one is put in the vulnerable position of having to cover his own butt at the expense of the other or the relationship. The assistant knows that even if they don’t remain with the company, they’ll have a valuable friend and ally in the business who’ll support their career. I know I won’t get left high and dry with just two weeks’ notice. Definitely, a win-win ending.  
The assistants that you help launch into the world and who become successful entrepreneurs can be a source of business in the future.  Though it can be disappointing if they don’t stay on with the company, on a human level, encouraging them to reach for the stars is like paying it forward. I recently contacted a former mentor who came out of retirement to work with me on a lucrative project that was fun and exciting for us both.  
Lastly, keep an open mind..  It can be easy to become comfortable with the status quo, and bristle at employees who challenge it, especially, when it’s a “why fix something that isn’t broken,” situation.  Just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean it can’t be vastly improved.  The employee with the courage to bring those opportunities to your attention, who sees the future and wants to grab it with both hands, that’s the employee who one day, you’ll look back and be grateful you encouraged.
Written by Marc Guss.
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