Recruiters often say they are looking for “self starters”, or candidates with “entrepreneurial spirit”. But is hiring an entrepreneur really a good idea? Wouldn’t entrepreneurial employees be better off just starting their own companies?

Not according to Auren Hoffman, entrepreneur and former CEO of data onboarding service LiveRamp. Writing on the popular Q&A site Quora in response to the question: Why are entrepreneurs bad employees? Hoffman argues that actually entrepreneurs make the very best employees. The problem apparently lies mostly with companies, which tend to be bad employers of entrepreneurial people.

Companies end up losing their most talented people because entrepreneurial employees don’t like being micromanaged and won’t last in an organization where they are “on a short leash”.

“If a company wants these types of employees to thrive, it needs to have a clear strategy, and then let its employees go out and execute,” he writes.

“Companies with a murky strategy need to micromanage more because they do not trust people down the totem pole to make the right long-term decisions.”

He also points out that companies lose entrepreneurial people because they do not promote them quickly enough.

“Your most talented employees should always be growing, be stretching, be reaching, and always feel a bit uncomfortable… otherwise they will leave.”

Another reason companies lose entrepreneurial employees is that they impose too many rules.

“Rules serve an important purpose, but too many rules slow everything down, add red tape, and are super frustrating to entrepreneurs who thrive on getting things done,” he writes.

Hoffman suggests companies can attract and retain entrepreneurs by scrapping rules – when appropriate – and thinking carefully before adding more rules. “Rules” include meetings, and this means keeping only the ones that are important and well-run.

He concludes: “Now there are some people who can only be entrepreneurs because they just cannot have a boss, and they think everyone around them is stupid. (I used to be this person when I was younger).

“But most people can thrive within an organization… if the company is set up well enough to allow top performers to truly excel.”

In an article for, Nathan Chan, publisher of Foundr Magazine, argues that you don’t have to own a business to be an entrepreneur.

“Being an entrepreneur doesn’t require owning a business any more than being an accountant requires working for an accounting firm,” he writes.

Being an entrepreneur is all about mindset, he claims, even if you aren’t running your own company.

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