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Bottom-up "entrepreneurs" in a big company

Process map for a bottom-up entrepreneur in a large companyInside a large corporation, very talented folks will be innovative about the firms purpose, products, and processes — sometimes against the grain. The spirit and commitment is the same as the entrepreneur taking an idea to market by mortgaging her house. Their challenge is to sell a strategy bottom-up.

Go to the Methods Chapter to review suggestions on speeding up innovation.

A bigger team

The team needs a coalition of key players at their level, above their level and below their lever. More folks are involved.

Demo it at the right time

It's more likely they will need to demonstrate the concept (with very limited funds) before they make a formal request for funding.

I've added one more "formal event" to the process, sticking to strategy formulation language, demonstrating the idea(s) to the right people at the right time.

The Coalition and Timing

Every very experienced, successful CEO I've met wants their folks to be innovative. It is sometimes hard to be heard.

Who is involved early

Inside a big company, in addition to the core team, you need to recruit a coalition from your peers, your customers and the folks who will implement. Two purposes: to get their advice and to create support when you ask for money.

This may be formalized into a strategy development steering group.

Don't lose a silver bullet

The small business entrepreneur plugs ahead until the idea is accepted.

The entrepreneur in a big company needs to consider the timing of when to introduce an idea — too soon, get told no. My experience and other folks who have done this successfully spent a lot of time thinking about when and where to first pitch their idea to one or two senior leaders.

Timelines in a Large Firm

Folks involved

The strategic planning team, usually a coalition of key players in the firm and sometimes customers, develops the idea to the point where is can compete for funding in the firm. As the idea coalesces, the meetings in the process become more formal.


Graphic of for timeline  for a bottom-up approach

Key Points

  • Vision here is the route to take to bring a product or service to the customer, the customer benefit is the selling point
  • Strategy formulation starts informally
  • Form a talented team early
  • Assess what do your customers think, all the time, involve them
  • Goals align to grow market share for your products or services
  • In a larger firm, you need to lay some ground work by demonstrating the idea
  • You have to carefully think through where you will get the start up funds
  • Prepare a thorough, persuasive business plan if you need to ask for money
  • You must sell yourself to the folks who will give you money
  • Expect that you need to adapt rapidly as you offer your product or service to the market



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