4 Ways to Create a Culture of Intrapreneurship

Lately, you may have heard the relatively new term, intrapreneur.  If you're unfamiliar with the concept, the word defines a person within an organization who uses skills traditionally associated with entrepreneurship—like innovation and problem-solving—and applies them at the company they work for.

Essentially, it's a way for employees to engage in entrepreneurial-like behavior while avoiding the risk that entrepreneurs typically experience.  As you might imagine, companies love having this type of innovator on board at their organizations.  If you'd like to foster a culture of intrapreneurship at your company, you can do so by:

  1. Rewarding Proactive Behavior.  Employees are far more likely to be proactive problem solvers if they know that behavior is valued in their organization.  If you have layers of bureaucracy in place that makes proactive behavior all but impossible, we encourage you to start thinking of innovative ways to change that.

  2. Making Room for Creativity.  Firms that foster intrapreneurship tend to allow their employees greater flexibility.  For example, at 3M and Google, employees are allowed to spend 20% of their working hours pursuing personal projects related to the business.  In fact, these personal projects led to the creation of Post-It notes and Gmail.

  3. Accepting Micro-Failures.  In an innovative environment, there will be times that failures occur.  However, rather than berating employees for making mistakes, aim for an understanding attitude.  By accepting that failure is an occasional byproduct of risk, you create a culture where employees are more comfortable implementing new ideas.

  4. Acting on Ideas.  Sitting around and coming up with great ideas can be an enjoyable pasttime.  However, it's important to realize that if you're a company that truly wants to foster intrapreneurship, it's not just enough to devise useful ideas.  At some point, you need to act on them.  To do this, growth strategist Matthew Toren at business.com suggests you develop a structure to move ideas from the generation stage all the way to commercial realization. 

Could Your Company Benefit from a Sleep Policy?

Do you work at an office where people who leave by 5:30 are considered wimps?  Is a 60-80 hour work week the norm at your company?  Are you surrounded by highly caffeinated “zombies” who ingest tons of coffee just to keep themselves upright at work?  If you've answered yes to any of these questions, there's a high likelihood that sleep deprivation is the norm at your place of employment.  According to Harvard Business Review, that's bad for a number of reasons.

As HBR reports in Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, there are many ways our cognitive skills suffer from a lack of sleep including: slower reaction times, impeded judgment, interference with problem-solving, and grogginess.

While these impacts may not seem like a big deal, Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that sleep deprivation is not just an individual health hazard, it's a public one.  For instance, when his research team studied sleep-deprived hospital interns, they found that interns' “odds of stabbing themselves with a scalpel or needle increased 61%, their risk of crashing a motor vehicle increased 168%, and their risk of a near miss increased 460%.”

Czeisler suggests that rather than viewing sleep deprivation with machismo, that instead individuals—and corporations—take it seriously.  In fact, he suggests that businesses develop a sleep policy which would look something like this:

  • Limit Daily Work.  Ideally, employees would work no more than 12 hours a day and definitely never more than 16 hours a day.

  • Limit Weekly Work.  Czeisler suggests that employees shouldn't be scheduled to work more than 60 hours a week and they should be prevented from working beyond 80.

  • Give Adequate Days Off.  The more nights in a row we don't get enough sleep, the more sleep we require to get caught up.  To prevent this type of growing sleep deprivation, Czeisler says that ideally, employees shouldn't be scheduled more than 4-5 days in a row, and they should never be scheduled to work more than 6 consecutive days.

4 Easy Things You Can Do to Improve Your Life

All too often, it seems like the actions that would most improve our lives are time-consuming or require lots of discipline.  Not so with this list.  Check out our suggestions for some very simple things you can do to quickly improve your life:

  1. Keep a Gratitude List.  Each morning spend 5 minutes writing down 5 things you appreciate about your life.  Once you've completed the list, reread each item and say, “thank you,” silently to yourself.  This activity will help you to begin each day in a happier frame of mind.

  2. Save Automatically.  If saving money isn't your thing, we're going to make it simple for you.  Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account to occur after every paycheck.  That's it!  By putting money aside for a rainy day, you'll feel more confident about your ability to save for big-ticket items, as well as feel prepared should an unexpected emergency arise.

  3. Clean for 5 Minutes a Day.  It's not uncommon to let cleaning go by the wayside when we get busy.  However, if you commit to cleaning for just 5 minutes each day, you'll find that you can easily make the time for it, your home will stay neater, and frequently, you'll be inclined to work beyond 5 minutes because you're in a groove.

  4. Quit Complaining.  When we complain, we're fueling negativity.  Instead, try to go cold turkey on complaints.  For extra credit, consider taking the Complaint Free Challenge designed by Will Bowen.  The challenge consists of wearing a rubber bracelet on your wrist and not criticizing, complaining, or gossiping for 21 consecutive days.  If you find yourself doing so, move the bracelet to your other wrist and begin again from day 1.  While this may sound easy, Bowen reports that he moved his bracelet so often, he broke 3 of them before going 21 days without a complaint. However, by choosing to stop thinking negatively, you'll experience greater happiness and success in your life.

5 Tips to Transition from Full-Time to Freelance

Would you like to quit your 9-5 job and become a freelancer instead?  If so, read on.  We have some tips to help make the transition an easier one:

  1. Do the Math.  Before you quit your day job, it's important to determine how much money you need to meet your expenses.  Grab your calculator and figure out what your fixed costs are, how much discretionary income you'd like to have, and whether there are any areas of spending you can cut.

  2. Save Money.  Once you've created your target freelancing budget, you're going to want to create a nest egg.  This will give you a sense of security should you have any unexpected problems as a freelancer.  Most experts advise that your nest egg be equivalent to 6 months of income or more.

  3. Promote Yourself.  One thing you'll learn as a freelancer is that you'll need to become adept at marketing yourself and your services.  Create a freelancing profile, update your LinkedIn page, begin networking, and familiarize yourself with the various methods freelancers use to promote themselves.

  4. Begin Moonlighting.  While all of the preceding steps are useful, you're not ready to quit your day job just yet!  Start taking on side work and building client relationships as a freelancer.  These projects will help you be well-prepared for the day that you do quit your job.  If you have a flexible employer, you may want to ask if you can work a reduced schedule for reduced pay—this will give you the opportunity to make your transition gradually.

  5. Make the Leap.  When you're confident you can support yourself as a freelancer, it's time to quit your job.  Once you're self-employed, you're going to want to approach freelancing the same way you would your 9-5 job—set goals for yourself, adhere to regular working hours, and create a structure that will support your success.

5 Unusual Holidays to Celebrate Between Now and Labor Day

If you're disappointed that Independence Day has passed and Labor Day seems so far away, we've got some good news for you...there are plenty of fun holidays to celebrate in the interim.  Behold some of the most unusual ones:

  1. Teddy Bear Picnic Day.  Celebrated on July 10th, this is the perfect opportunity to take your teddy bear on that picnic you've been dreaming about.  Nobody will look at you strangely at all.  Actually, while we can't guarantee that last statement, you'll have better odds of avoiding stares if you bring the kids with you.

  2. Take Your Plants for a Walk Day.  Are your plants cooped up indoors?  Have you sensed they've been longing for some fresh air?  If that's the case, grab your wheelbarrow, throw your plants in it, and take them on a stroll around the neighborhood.  So as not to look like an oddball, do this on the date the holiday falls, July 27th.

  3. National S'mores Day.  Have a hankering for graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolatey goodness?  Get a campfire going and plan on indulging August 10th.  Enjoy your snack guilt-free—after all, you're celebrating a holiday!

  4. National Thrift Shop Day.  If shopping at thrift stores is your idea of entertainment, you may want to mark National Thrift Shop Day, August 17th, on your calendar.  This holiday makes for the perfect occasion to listen to Macklemore while selecting some new duds at the thrift shop.

  5. More Herbs, Less Salt Day.  We'd feel remiss if we didn't balance out National S'mores Day with a healthy alternative.  Enter the catchily named More Herbs, Less Salt Day, celebrated on August 29th.  The holiday means exactly what you think it means—rather than seasoning your food with lots of salt, choose fresh herbs instead.