What do the PlayStation, Gmail, and the iPod all have in common?
You’d be forgiven for assuming the similarity which ties those everyday products together is that they were all created because of the advanced thinking of some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world.
Sony, Google, and Apple were built on a foundation laid by some of the most forward-thinking entrepreneurs of our time, and those household products are obviously a result of that.
But you’d be wrong.
Those products aren’t the result of entrepreneurship at its finest; they’re the result of intrapreneurship.
What is an intrapreneur?
An intrapreneur is essentially an entrepreneur, but one who works within the confines of a corporate organization. You can also take a deeper dive into the intrapreneurship definition and characteristics.
A company which has an intrapreneurship program dedicates the time, resources and costs required for an employee to develop products under their name which will meet the needs of the consumer and help the organization grow.
Utilizing the entrepreneurial mindset of current employees; employers allocate a specific amount of their work time, plus full use of their resources, including budget, to give them the space to create a pioneering product or service that will bear the company’s name.
In the same way that an entrepreneur researches, tests, and trials their revolutionary product or service; an intrapreneur has the same level of freedom and independence within an organization. An intrapreneur’s core focus, however, is on the growth of the company, not the growth of the individual as in the case of most entrepreneurs.
Intrapreneur ventures can involve the creation of innovative new products, services, or changes that will impact society. There are no hard and fast rules as to what an intrapreneur can work on, and indeed no limits as to what they can achieve once they’re given free rein to tap into their creative side. While their achievements will vary, one thing intrapreneurs all have in common is that they get paid a wage by someone else.
Differences between an entrepreneur and intrapreneur.
As an entrepreneur, you will concentrate on the bigger picture of building a company from the ground up. You will take control of budgets, operational procedures, product development and sales. All business decisions and the direction of the organization will sit with you, and the achievements of the company will be in your name.
An intrapreneur differs from an entrepreneur in one key way. They focus on the growth of an existing, established organization.
An intrapreneur takes those elements which are already in place in a successful organization and thinks bigger and better. They develop products which will lead to the scaling up of a company or solve a particular problem that the business faces and contribute to the organization’s evolution.
Problems an intrapreneur might solve for a company:
- Lack of innovation across the board which stunts an organizations growth.
- New ideas and vision for an organization which no longer meets the needs of the consumer,
- Lack of creative thinking which led to their initial success when the company was established.
Do you have what it takes to be an intrapreneur?
Finding a company that has an intrapreneurship program that you can get involved with has significant merits for your career; not just today, but long into the future.
Some might see intrapreneurship as the first step to entrepreneurship, but this isn’t always the case. An intrapreneur can be just as powerful and fruitful in their own right, and they have the potential to change the whole direction of a company which will place them ahead of a global market, and, more importantly, keep them there.
Why you should become an intrapreneur.
You might not necessarily set out to become an intrapreneur, but if you’ve positioned yourself in a growing company that has the capacity to put your energy and creative skills to good use, you are in a leading position to forge ahead.
If you can recognize a way to solve challenges that a company is facing, there are many ways you can promote yourself both as a model employee and use your ingenuity to create a world famous product just like the Apple Mac or iPod, and bring your creative vision to life.
For a company that doesn’t currently support intrapreneurs, the benefits to the organization of adopting this proven successful structure are immense, and if you can highlight them to the relevant personnel; your accomplishments in your career will be limitless.
To make your mark in the world within the confines of your organization, here are some selling points you can use to encourage your company to adopt an intrapreneurial way of thinking.
Benefits of intrapreneurship within a company structure:
Innovation and growth.
At the core of any successful company is constant innovation. Without that, a company has the constant threat of competitors emerging and captivating their market. Unfortunately, those entrepreneurs who have the skills and ambition required to make it to the top either lose sight of how or don’t have the capacity, to focus on the innovation needed to continue to capture the market.
Their attention wains, or, more commonly, it gets taken up by other pressing matters which ultimately stunts the growth of the organization and puts them at risk.
Intrapreneurship provides the maximum potential for opportunity for a company to grow because it comprises evolution. Intrapreneurship not only involves coming up with the ideas, but it also encompasses the implementation to make sure they’re successful.
CEOs and top-level managers often focus solely on the internal workings of the company but an intrapreneur will know and understand the needs of the external market and will use this to implement an effective strategy to utilise the company resources best to meet them leading to guaranteed future growth.
Not only is intrapreneurship good for the company, but it’s also good for you, the employee.
Developing yourself as an intrapreneur will keep you motivated to perform at your best. Intrapreneur projects don’t consume the whole working week, so you’ll often still be required to perform tasks as outlined in your initial job role.
While learning from the company, and about the company; your motivation levels will be high as you’re also free to explore your creativity.
Having the opportunity to use your creativity in the capacity to bring benefit to a company will forge a strong attachment between you and your organization and will help you become a much more focused, dedicated and committed employee.
Intrapreneurship also provides you with meaningful work that gives employees a sense of pride and self-worth which leads to improved performance and loyalty to the company.
How do you develop as an intrapreneur?
If you’re not naturally entrepreneurially-minded, but you see the benefits of joining a company as an intrapreneur, it’s possible to utilise your pre-existing skills to position yourself into an intrapreneur role.
Just like an entrepreneur, the energy and drive required to take risks necessary for success as an intrapreneur are personality traits rather than skills that can be learned. That’s not to say that those features don’t exist within you and all you need to do to draw them out is put yourself in the right environment.
According to one of the earliest writers on “intra-corporate entrepreneurship,” Gifford Pinchot; when an employee and an employer who supports intrapreneurship are matched, having permission to apply their creative side without fear of wrath or criticism for making the wrong decision will allow an employee to thrive as an intrapreneur for the good of themselves and the company.
The key elements you need to develop as an intrapreneur are as follows:
Commit yourself to innovation.
In the corporate workplace, opposition traditionally exists between top-level management who have extensive experience in the organization and industry, and the employee who is focused and passionate about growing the organization through innovation and change.
As an intrapreneur, you’ll often have duties within the confines of your role to perform so it’s essential that you can create a balance between your forward-thinking and creative flair, and perform your daily duties; these won’t always necessarily be linked.
If you remain committed to the innovation of your company by continuously pitching your next big idea, while not letting your day job suffer, you will succeed as an intrapreneur, and the results for the company will speak for themselves.
Some concepts, such as intrapreneurship, need to be seen to be believed by managers not yet on board with the idea, and if you remain committed to your innovative flair, there’s no doubt this is what you’ll achieve.
Solve problems and provide value.
According to intrapreneurship expert, Noam Wekser, an intrapreneur must provide a company with solutions, not problems.
Looking for ways to actively improve a service, save a company time and money, and increase revenue, are fundamental problems that top-level management will always need solving. Become consistent in provide ways you can do this rather than the challenges you face getting there.
Nothing much ever evolves from a comfort zone, and intrapreneurship is no different. You must push past the boundaries and adopt a level of resilience that sees you get back up again and again every time something doesn’t work out the way believed it would.
Believe in yourself.
Self-belief is crucial to your success as an intrapreneur. You’re using company money and resources and if you don’t believe in yourself there’s no chance that anyone else will and you’ll find it hard to get project approval across the line.
If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, seeking out those forward-thinking companies committed to innovation will give you the best opportunity to reach your fullest potential as an intrapreneur.
While intrapreneurship can often become a stepping stone into entrepreneurship, it doesn’t necessarily lead there.
Take action to become a better intrapreneur. Learn about our intrapreneurship training workshops for yourself or for your organization.
Thanks to Sam Shears, the guest author contributor for this article.
Sam is a Content Wrier for Media Shark digital agency – www.mediashark.com.au – with four years’ professional writing experience under her belt. Sam has worked on writing projects that range from SEO strategies to beauty and fashion. Bilingual and a world traveller, she has been to 6 of the 7 continents. Currently Studying Digital Marketing in South East Qld looking to further her career in the digital arena.
Contact Sam directly – email@example.com