Everyone knows what an entrepreneur is. And it's pretty easy to answer "yes" or "no" when you're asked if you are one. Or... maybe it's not so easy. I mean, you can have an entrepreneurial spirit but never wind up in Jeff Bezos' shoes: founding a business and putting that spirit to good use. That's where intrapreneurship comes in.
What is an intrapreneur and how do you know if you are one? How is intrapreneurship different than entrepreneurship? And maybe most importantly, why are we talking about this at all? Keep reading to get the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Intrapreneurship occurs when the nature of entrepreneurship is practiced within the boundaries of an organization, usually by an employee. Meanwhile, an intrapreneur is someone who improves a firm from the inside-out using tactics similar to those an entrepreneur would use. They enact change within an organization by challenging conventions and innovating new ideas, systems or products. Intrapreneurs are usually self-directed, taking responsibility for the performance of their team and organization.
The primary difference between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur is that an intrapreneur exists within an organization, often as an employee, while an entrepreneur is the leader of a project or organization. Therefore, while both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs take initiative to change an organization, how they do so is different An entrepreneur is often free to make changes at will, as they're at the helm of the operation, while an intrapreneur must create change through organizational processes. However, without argument, enacting change in either way requires hard work.
An intrapreneur is an employee who sees problems and challenges as a chance to change an organization. An intrapreneurial leader is someone who uses this vision to make change, often without the guidance or oversight of senior management. Therefore, intrapreneurial leadership is demonstrated when someone drives progress within a company's infrastructure, leading and encouraging others to do the same. They may or may not lead a team that helps them achieve this progress. They are often regarded as thought leaders or high-potential talent within an organization.
Now that you know what an intrapreneur is, how can you know if you qualify as one? These are the core characteristics of an intrapreneur.
Intrapreneurs are willing to take the risks associated with changing the status quo. They take risks on pursuing their ideas and putting them in front of their colleagues, even if they may result in failure. For intrapreneurs, the saying "to try and fail is better than never trying at all" is held closely to the heart.
Intrapreneurs are problem-solvers. They use their creativity and their understanding of the business's mission to come up with innovative ideas, processes or products. They are always dreaming up new resolutions to the organization's problems and shortfalls.
Intrapreneurs don't just do what's never been done before; they actively challenge processes and systems that are already in place in order to improve them. True intrapreneurship requires the bravery to stand up against the norm and the confidence to suggest an alternate solution.
Intrapreneurs take personal responsibility for what's happening in their role, on their team and in their organization. This propels them to improve what's happening in any of these realms on their own volition. Intrapreneurs also take responsibility for the projects they start and follow through on the changes they say they'll make.
Intrapreneurs don't need to be told to innovate or to implement change; they do so without being prompted by their managers or team members. Additionally, intrapreneurs often implement change without direct supervision or guidance. They are typically internally motivated to drive progress.
Intrapreneurs are optimistic enough to believe that they can make a change within their organization — and that any change they make matters. Intrapreneurs believe that they can achieve whatever innovation they set their mind to, and they act on this belief. Additionally, their optimistic minds allow them to see the big picture — and a bright vision of what things could look like in a perfect world.
Overall, intrapreneurs are change-makers within their organizations. They make things better without being asked to do so, and they often do it within the conventions of day-to-day business. Intrapreneurs are optimists and risk-takers — and it seems like it's about time we recognize who they are. Thank goodness we have this article.