What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Academia: How To Engineer Your Team

There are surprising similarities between academia and entrepreneurship. Both require creativity, innovation, and both are essential. However, there is much more. Both require trust, strong leadership, and relationships among project stakeholders (or educators and students, depending on the case). You can change a field by inventing new ideas or create a whole new area. The same is true for entrepreneurship; it’s more than just business–entrepreneurs change the world with their ideas.

Both areas are focused on modernity. How do we use what we already have or what is known to rethink it, reconfigure and re-create it in a way that propels us forward? How can we use existing problems to solve them for future generations? These three strategies can be used to benefit entrepreneurs by drawing from the academic world. Innovation is the heart of academia and entrepreneurship.

Encourage a common goal.

Robert Bishop, an education leader, founded The University of South Florida Institute of Applied Engineering. He had previously worked in various educational departments. Bishop is the College of Engineering’s dean. The engineering program has been redesigned by Bishop to offer students hands-on and impactful learning opportunities. The program allows students to work on projects that directly impact the Department of Defense. Students can learn as they design essential elements for the department. The program’s success is due to the fact that they have a bigger goal than advancing education. Education itself has an impact on a broader range.

If you are an entrepreneur and want to build a team, give your employees more than just a paycheck. Make sure employees know the importance of their work and the role they play in achieving that goal. This will keep your team motivated and united while working towards innovation in the industry you operate within.

Micromanage Your Employees

It is crucial to delegate and assign responsibility to team members. Bishop says that he creates expectations and guidelines for his students and then lets them discover, learn, and develop their projects independently while watching from afar. The ability to step back allows students to feel secure and independent, which increases their creativity.

Entrepreneurs often feel too attached to their business and cannot trust even a tiny portion of it to anyone else. This can hinder growth and cause stress for employees.

Entrepreneurs need to ensure they aren’t micromanaging their staff. To innovate and succeed, companies and educational institutions must have access to various perspectives and ideas. Bishop says that by giving his students the freedom to debate and disagree on topics, he encourages open discussion, debate, argumentation, and creativity.

Giving your employees more freedom and more responsibility will encourage them to come up with new ideas, think independently, and exceed the expectations you place in them.

Over Time, Build Trust

If employees are not in a trust-based relationship, they cannot achieve your goals and operate independently. However, leaders and managers cannot be successful in achieving the same objectives without trusting their employees. While this can take time, building trust is an essential aspect of teambuilding.

Bishop believes it took time for trust to be built in his educational institution due to past perceptions. He focused his efforts on cultivating relationships between stakeholders. This was done by encouraging open discussions. Trust can be strengthened by honest, direct face-to-face communication. This strategy applies internally and externally; you can cultivate trust with employees the same way you develop confidence with customers–communication is critical.

While both entrepreneurship and academia are interested in innovation, they also need structured and dedicated teams to achieve this goal. Educational institutions and companies must foster trust, autonomy, and a shared set of values for their employees and participants.

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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