Wait — intrapreneur?
When most people think of entrepreneurs, they think of folks owning their own thing. Whether that’s a small business, or the next great disruptor that’s the Uber of something, it’s a story and lifestyle as old and revered as the American spirit.
But what happens if you haven’t found your idea yet, and you’re not ready to strike out on your own? How do you scratch that gnawing itch for independence and innovation in a 9-to-5 gig, the suppose mortal enemy of the free-spirited entrepreneur?
That’s where intrapreneurship comes in!
The innovation is coming from INSIDE the house
According to Investopedia, intrapreneurs, “[act] like an entrepreneur within a larger organization.” Companies finds folks with entrepreneurial qualities and direct them to “take initiative…in pursuit of an innovative product or service.”
Companies who correctly foster intrapreneurship reap the benefits of innovation, an increasingly necessary result in a more competitive business environment. That last piece matters a lot, because it can be hard for older brands to keep it funky fresh. It’s tempting, both for the sake of employees and for shareholders, to rest on old laurels to ensure growth and stability. However, intrapreneurial success stories resulted in everything from Facebook’s “Like Button” and Gmail, to video projectors and Post-It Notes. That growth keeps companies at the forefront for years to come.
Reward without the risk
In turn, intrapreneurship programs can greatly benefit employees. They teach entrepreneurial types to grow and strengthen their muscles of independence, proactivity and innovation with the confines of a stable organization. Investopedia points out that “The major difference between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs is that the fruits of success default to the organization.
On the other hand, the intrapreneur also has the comfort of knowing that failure will not have a personal cost – as it would be for an entrepreneur – since the organization would absorb losses arising from failure.
Striking out on entrepreneurial ventures can be risky, and that risk can be hard to justify with a mortage and a few kids to put through school. The ability to innovate from within gives you stability and a place to showcase your natural visionary gift. Innovating from within also gives these employees access to more resources to make their vision a reality. That’s a just a smidge easier than having to hustle for funding from the beginning.
Hanging onto the restless millennial
Finally, intrapreneurship may improve a company’s ability to retain employees of certain demographics. “The rise of the intrapreneur is driven in part by a restless, younger workforce to make a real impact with their careers,” according to Fast Company. Additionally, “Older generations, perhaps inspired by their younger colleagues, are thinking more about their legacy and launching new projects in the companies they’ve worked for, sometimes for decades.”
Both groups understand the need to fight for the right to be where they are, so it’s only natural that they gravitate towards opportunities that showcase their ability to get shit done and move the needle for the business in a big way.
So, next time you find yourself daydreaming about the entrepreneur’s lifestyle, think like an intrapreneur and ask yourself, “How can I start that journey in my current role?” Then, go make it happen. Both you and your employer stand to gain a lot from the answer.