Do you want to head interesting projects with an entrepreneurial mindset and earn great rewards at the minimum risk? You can become an intrapreneur in your organization!
A sustainable and growing business requires constant innovation in its products, services, marketing, sales, operations, and human resource management. Where do such innovations come from?
You got it right! Its employees. Some employees are determined to take the business to the next level. They contribute to business growth by devising revolutionary strategies, introducing a new product that’ll increase its brand value, and so on.
This is the role of an intrapreneur. If you also want to get big promotions and sit in the driving seat of the business, you should read this article until the end to learn what it takes to be an intrapreneur.
What is an Intrapreneur?
You’re an intrapreneur if you’re an employee who thinks and acts like an entrepreneur while working within a company. You’re driven by innovation, taking calculated risks to develop new ideas, products, or strategies.
Intrapreneurs are essential for a company’s growth as they identify opportunities, solve problems, and seize advantages in the ever-changing business landscape. You exhibit a proactive attitude, often challenge the status quo, and push for positive changes within the organization.
You aren’t satisfied with just following orders; you take initiative, show leadership, and contribute significantly to the company’s success by fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability.
Finally, the goal of an intrapreneur is to come up with novel ideas for business transformation into growth and expansion without putting the existing brand value and revenue at risk.
Roles and Responsibilities of an Intrapreneur
Here’s what the life of an entrepreneur looks like at their workplace:
You’re an innovator of ideas that solve real-world business problems. Suppose, your company is struggling to sell more merchandise from their retail stores. You persuade the business owner to allow you to open online marketplaces on Amazon, Shopify, etc., to sell online.
You can also take initiative. You see opportunities in challenges and create strategies so your organization can benefit in its operation or product offerings.
You must also be a risk manager and mitigator. You’re an expert in assessing and managing risks associated with new projects and initiatives.
Being a team player, you collaborate effectively with colleagues and cross-functional teams.
You’re also a leader. You lead by work and performance examples. Also, you’re willing to take charge of troubling projects and lead them to success.
Becoming a resource manager is also an indispensable role of an entrepreneur. You must know how to allocate and manage resources efficiently for intrapreneurial projects.
You’re an influencer in your department and organization. You can persuade others to participate in hackathons and brainstorming sessions to submit innovative ideas for consideration.
You don’t shy away from promoting a culture of innovation and intrapreneurship throughout the company.
Intrapreneurial Skills: Characteristics That Define a Successful Intrapreneur
Here are the skills you must possess or acquire to become a star intrapreneur:
You can generate creative ideas and solutions using innovative thinking.
There are problem-solving skills in you that enable you to identify and address challenges on time and efficiently.
You can inspire and motivate others to support innovative initiatives by using leadership skills.
You can communicate with business stakeholders, investors, partners, and collaborators clearly and effectively.
You have the necessary adaptability skills so you can respond to challenges and changes without failing the project.
You’ve got risk management skills that enable you to forecast risks and mitigate them to keep the intrapreneurial project on track always.
Technical skills, like product designing, testing, marketing, etc., are also crucial.
You’ve got the necessary financial acumen to understand ROI, budgeting, etc.
Furthermore, you need to have the time management skills that enable you to prioritize the right set of tasks and meet deadlines. With all these under your belt, you’re good to go!
Benefits of Intrapreneurship
Intrapreneurship is beneficial for both the employees and the employers in different ways.
Advantages for Employees
If you’re an employee in an organization but you’ve got a novel idea that you can turn into a product or service, an intrapreneurship program in your current organization can help you bring your idea to life.
You can head or work on innovative technology development or other novel product development projects without assuming the risks of doing the same as an entrepreneur.
You can grow your career drastically and become a C-level employee for certain products, services, or operations inventions you’re heading.
You enhance your leadership and entrepreneurial skills as well as help other team members learn how to innovate new products and services.
You get a sense of ownership while working in an organization.
You can become an innovator of great technologies and consumer products without risking your time and money.
Also, you get paid to work on research and development projects sponsored by the organization.
Also, you could earn massive bonuses if technology or products innovated and materialized by you receive a huge market response. In the long run you can secure your job and role within the organization.
Advantages for Employers
If you’re a business owner struggling to compete in the market in an ever-evolving landscape, intrapreneurs within your company can help.
Intrapreneurs also help you to stay ahead in the industry by regularly innovating new products and technologies.
Various intrapreneurship programs help you to continuously improve the existing products and services to enhance customer satisfaction levels.
Intrapreneurial opportunities help you to attract and retain top talent, as employees are more likely to stay when they can channel their creative energies into your business growth.
Intrapreneurial initiatives motivate employees to work more efficiently by boosting morale, take ownership of projects, and proactively seek solutions to challenges.
Through intrapreneurship, your business can identify and implement cost-effective processes and improvements. This leads to significant savings and operational efficiency.
It provides opportunities to diversify the company’s portfolio, exploring new markets and revenue streams while reducing reliance on a single product or service.
Furthermore, being seen as an innovator and supporter of intrapreneurship enhances your company’s reputation among customers, competitors, and partners.
Popular Examples of Intrapreneurs
Find below the inspiring examples that’ll motivate you in your intrapreneurial journey:
Richard Montañez of Frito-Lay created the Flamin’ Hot! flavor for Cheetos snack with Latino-style spices while working as a janitor in the company. This was possible because the CEO Roger Enrico announced an initiative named “Act Like an Owner,” which is nothing but an intrapreneurship movement.
Steve Jobs and Team
Steve Jobs along with 20 other engineers at Apple split off to create a new product line called Apple Macintosh computers. This computer is the precursor of Apple’s powerful computing systems like the Macbook and iMac.
Silver and Fry
Spencer Silver and Art Fry at 3M invented the Post-It Note brand. These are sticky notes that generate billions of dollars in revenue for the company 3M.
Greg Greeley and Team
Amazon’s concept of Prime membership originated from a team of Amazon employees, under the leadership of Amazon VP Greg Greeley. They envisioned that customers would willingly pay extra to access an exclusive membership offering the luxury of two-day delivery.
Today, Prime’s subscription generates billions of dollars in revenue for Amazon. It was $25.21 billion in 2023 according to this Searchlogistics report.
How to Become an Intrapreneur
Often in product-led and technology companies, certain employees possess the innovative talent to think up ideas that could be materialized into a product or service.
If you’re such an employee in your existing organization, here’s how you can also become an intrapreneur like Steve Wozniak of Apple, Sheryl Sandberg of Meta, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, and so on:
#1. Research Before Pitching an Idea
Perform initial research on how to materialize the idea into a product or operational innovation that the business can benefit from.
Then, look for the organization’s entrepreneurship policies to find out how will the company share any profitable outcome with you should your idea become a bestseller.
If you’re okay with the rewards, move ahead with pitching the idea to a business manager, CEO, or owner.
#2. Find a Platform Where You Can Pitch
Look for ideation, brainstorming, and hackathon events in your organization and actively participate in such events. Propose logical innovative ideas that you can materialize into a real thing should you receive adequate support from the company.
#3. Become a Team Player
You must also be a team player. Should your business manager or owner choose to move ahead with your innovative idea, they’ll assign a team of analysts, developers, designers, finance experts, etc., so you can develop a prototype.
It requires an immensely expert collaborator to orchestrate a project by looping in every independent talent.
#4. Take Calculated and Data-Driven Risks
Though you didn’t put your life savings at stake in the intrapreneurial project, take responsibility to avoid any great loss to the organization. Keep in mind that if the business grows so do your career and compensation.
How to Support Intrapreneurship in Your Business
Supporting intrapreneurship in your business involves fostering a culture of responsibility and innovation among the employees. It also requires a framework that empowers employees to act as entrepreneurs within your organization. Here’s how to do it:
Encourage a mindset of innovation where employees feel safe to suggest new ideas. Make innovation a core value of your company.
Sponsor brainstorming sessions and hackathons on bugs and challenges in products, and services that your company offers.
You must also dedicate time, budget, and resources for intrapreneurial projects. Furthermore, ensure that employees have the tools and support they need to bring their ideas to life.
You should choose to grant employees the freedom to pursue their projects with a degree of autonomy. Let them take ownership by avoiding micromanagement within intrapreneurial projects.
Recognize and reward successful intrapreneurs with promotions, bonuses, or company-wide recognition. This motivates others to follow suit.
Cross-functional collaboration is also a key factor in fostering an intrapreneurial culture within the organization.
It’s good to communicate the company’s commitment to intrapreneurship clearly, letting employees know their ideas are valued.
Businesses must establish feedback loops through employee surveys for ongoing evaluation and improvement of intrapreneurial programs.
Celebrate intrapreneurial achievements to inspire others and reinforce the importance of innovation within the organization.
Entrepreneur Vs. Intrapreneur: A Tabulated Differentiation
Entrepreneurs are independent risk-takers. They create their own businesses from scratch, assuming full responsibility for their success or failure. In contrast, intrapreneurs operate within a parent organization, innovating and driving change from within. During the intrapreneurship project, they also leverage the resources and support of their employer.
Owns and operates their own business
Work within an existing organization as an innovator or researcher
Find below the disadvantages and challenges of the intrapreneurship landscape:
Intrapreneurial projects may divert resources and attention away from core business activities, potentially affecting profitability.
Not all intrapreneurial initiatives succeed, and failed projects can result in wasted time, money, and morale.
Existing employees or management may resist intrapreneurial ideas or disrupt the process due to fear of change or job insecurity.
Balancing the goals of intrapreneurs with the organization’s overall objectives can lead to conflicts and tension.
Intrapreneurship demands time and effort to nurture and support innovative projects, which can strain existing workloads.
Assessing the success and Return on Investment (ROI) of intrapreneurial initiatives can be challenging, making it hard to justify continued support.
In the long-run protecting intellectual property and sensitive information related to intrapreneurial projects can also be challenging.
Embrace the Intrapreneurial Spirit!
Intrapreneurs are the driving force behind corporate success. They infuse organizations with fresh ideas, innovation, and a relentless drive to excel. Their ability to think outside the box, solve problems creatively, and in the nick of time when the company might face a shutdown.
By fostering a culture that encourages employees to be intrapreneurs, businesses can tap into this invaluable resource. It’s about recognizing that the entrepreneurial spirit isn’t only limited to startups and can easily be spread in business houses.
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