Climbing the corporate ladder

Entrepreneurial Career Ladder

As anyone who has worked for a Start-Up or small company can attest to, opportunities to be promoted in the traditional sense is less present than in a structured hierarchal system.  As opposed to large corporations who hand out titles like candy, progressing and being “promoted” within an entrepreneurial environment is more focused on skill development than titles.  Having worked in both corporate settings and an entrepreneurial environment (e.g. Acquirent), I have realized that the latter reinforces individuality, creativity, development, and accountability than the former. I realize this may be a generalization that may not apply to all individuals or organizations but having experienced both, I realize that everyone has different personal and professional ambitions and goals that can be reinforced by effectively recognizing those ambitions and skills.

Below is a list of ways individuals can progress and develop within an entrepreneurial/flat organization structure.

  • Demonstrate performance in the role you’re hired for.
    • Within a sales environment such as Acquirent, it comes down to meeting sales and activity expectations.  That is the quickest and most effective way of being recognized by leaders within the organization, which will put you in the driver’s seat for new opportunities when they become available.
  • Get involved.
    • Getting involved with organizational opportunities shows initiative and leadership qualities to those at top management.  My boss, and brother, Geoff Winthrop (Executive VP of Acquirent) has a phrase he loves to use: “Closed mouths don’t get fed”.  Speak up and get involved and new opportunities will become available.
  • Partner with those in your organization who have the skills and experience you are looking to possess.
    • Within Acquirent, we have a varying level of sales professionals with different skill sets and experiences.  Partner with those individuals, even if it’s for a monthly cup of coffee, and pick their brains.  Determine how they got to this point in their career and seek constructive criticisms so that you can begin to build on those skill development areas.
  • Bring creativity to the organization.
    • The beauty of an entrepreneurial organization is that there is no “one way” of doing things.  Leaders within these organizations look to hire individuals that bring new ideas and strengths to the table that may be lacking currently within the organization.
  • Create your position.
    • At Acquirent, all we do is sales.  98 percent of our team members are direct sales professionals.  That being the case, our environment has traditionally not had other departments, such as Marketing.  We have team members at Acquirent, namely Heather Appleman and Sara Dinan, who took the initiative and created these opportunities with approval of management.  Heather, with a background in Audio/Visual, now heads up our video production of our Sales Training Program and Sara, who previously managed Social Media at her former employer, is the head of our Social Media.  They manage these roles in parallel to their day-to-day responsibilities, which is selling for their respective clients.
    • By having outside passions, individuals can leverage those passions and bring value to their organization and in turn, are recognized by leaders in the organization and will be looked at for additional opportunities to develop their skills, become more marketable, and progress in their career.

There are many other ways individuals can progress within an entrepreneurial organization but these are a few that show progression is possible.  Understand the nature of an entrepreneurial environment and take a look at yourself.  Determine what truly motivates you.  Chances are an entrepreneurial organization may provide you more opportunity for development than you first thought.