What’s an intrapreneur? Could that be you?

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We may know what an entrepreneur is, but perhaps we’re scratching our heads about what’s an intrapreneur.

Intrapreneurs have the potential to reap the same benefits as entrepreneurs but without financial risk. So, understanding who can become an intrapreneur is vital.

First, let’s get the answer to what’s an intrapreneur.

Highlights:

  • An intrapreneur is a company employee who develops innovative ideas or products. The company grants the employee the time and resources to work on the project.
  • Benefits of being an intrapreneur include testing the entrepreneur waters without the associated risk, discovering what you’re passionate about, and recognition within the industry.
  • An intrapreneur is a person who’s creative, passionate, and adaptable.

Defining the intrapreneur

An intrapreneur is a company employee who develops innovative ideas or products. The company grants the employee the time and resources to work on the project. The most significant differences between an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur are:

  • The entrepreneur starts their own business while the intrapreneur works to improve an existing business
  • The entrepreneur raises their capital while the company finances the intrapreneur.
  • An entrepreneur’s company is newly established and needs time to mature, while an intrapreneur’s company is typically a large organization firmly positioned in the industry.
  • The entrepreneur assumes all the risk for the new product or service. In the case of the intrapreneur, their company takes the risk.
  • An entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss and can set their hours. That is not the case with an intrapreneur.

Intrapreneurship benefits

If you’re helping a company grow or improve, what do you get from being an intrapreneur? Here are a few perks:

  • Testing entrepreneur waters – Do you want to own your own business? Without assuming the risks associated with being an entrepreneur, you can figure out if you have what it takes to be one.
  • Discovering your passion – When we try something we’ve never done, we typically unearth new talent and potential within ourselves. This discovery and the project’s success create a new passion and boost your confidence and self-esteem. Can you see yourself doing this in the long run?
  • Recognition and incentives – When you succeed on a project that significantly benefits the company, you can receive a promotion, a raise, or lead a new team formed within the company. Furthermore, you become recognized as a solid worker, making you in demand inside and outside the company.

Case study: Freddy Anzures is a Filipino American with a busy life. He set up an art gallery in San Fransisco, is the designer-in-residence at Caffeine, an interactive music streaming platform, and is the creative director of Urban Legends. Before that, he was part of the original design team of the iPhone.

Anzures was working with MacOS when his manager assigned him to work on the iPhone. He remembers the creative freedom Steve Jobs provided, and Anzures came up with the idea of slide-to-unlock. He got the idea when sitting on an airplane and looking intently at the bathroom lock, which manually slides from unoccupied (green) to occupied (red). His name came to be on dozens of iPhone-related patents, and his contributions caused Apple to grow exponentially.

His experience at Apple taught him that he could be an entrepreneur and follow his passion.

Icons showing three benefits of intrapreneurship

Qualities intrapreneurs possess

Let’s review some of the characteristics successful intrapreneurs possess:

  • Curious – Intrapreneurs don’t take the status quo in stride and are curious about the business process and the company’s product or service.
  • Creative – Intrapreneurs constantly love to create solutions that go unnoticed by big businesses.
  • Proactive – Intrapreneurs want to avoid issues and pain points, not react to them, to ensure an excellent customer experience.
  • Passionate – Without passion for what you’re doing, both intra- and entrepreneurs won’t be likely to succeed. A few hurdles may cause them to abandon the project or the startup.
  • Productive – The intrapreneur will work hard to meet project deadlines and see the project’s success.
  • Adaptable – As with life, a project will have unexpected challenges. The ability to adapt to difficulties makes for a successful intrapreneur.
  • Resilient – A project may not succeed. A true intra- or entrepreneur will take note of the mistakes and learn from them instead of giving up. If management has critiques, they take it in appreciatively.

After considering all these aspects of being an intrapreneur, what do you think? Is intrapreneurship for you?

a list of seven characteristics of what’s an intrapreneur

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