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What is Intrapreneurship & How Can Your Business Harness it?

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Last editedAug 20203 min read

Empowering your employees to take ownership of their role and responsibilities is a great way to encourage a culture of innovation within your company. That’s why a concept known as “intrapreneurship” could be an effective method of driving growth and taking your company to the next level.

Find out everything you need to know about the intrapreneurship process with our simple guide. Firstly, let’s explore the concept in a little more depth with our intrapreneurship definition.

What is Intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurship is a system that allows employees to act like entrepreneurs within an existing organization. Essentially, intrapreneurs utilise existing frameworks and resources within your business to pursue innovation. The intrapreneurship process can help to identify and solve problems, from developing new products/services to building out new features or even creating entirely new departments within your business. Put simply, it’s about bringing an entrepreneurial vision to your firm, encouraging your employees to think, act, and create as if they were entrepreneurs.

Intrapreneurship vs. entrepreneurship

We’ve already mentioned “entrepreneurs” and the “entrepreneurial spirit,” and the distinction between intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship may not be immediately apparent. However, when it comes to intrapreneurship vs. entrepreneurship, it’s a pretty simple dichotomy. In short, entrepreneurs found and run their own companies, whereas intrapreneurs act like entrepreneurs, but within the framework of an existing organisation. In other words, intrapreneurship is all about encouraging your employees to operate as mini-entrepreneurs.

However, there are a couple of intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship differences to think about – most notably, risk. Given that the entrepreneurship process takes place within an established business, it’s arguably less risky than starting out on your own business venture. On the other hand, entrepreneurs tend to have more freedom, as they don’t need to deal with the limitations of working within an organisation that already has codified business processes and guidelines.

What are the benefits of encouraging intrapreneurship

There are a great many intrapreneurship benefits to consider, not just for the intrapreneur themselves, but the organization. First off, let’s think about the intrapreneurship benefits for employees. Fostering an intrapreneurial spirit can help to boost employee engagement and productivity. While some roles aren’t suited to intrapreneurship – and risk-averse personalities may not feel comfortable with an increased level of responsibility – many employees exposed to a culture of intrapreneurship will thrive.

It’s also important to note that the intrapreneurship process can lead to significant innovation within your business, which could have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. For example, many products that have gone on to become great successes were created by intrapreneurs, including the Apple Macintosh, the Sony PlayStation, and the Post-It note. Giving your employees the tools and the freedom to essentially run their own businesses within the wider organization can produce incredible results.

How to create an intrapreneurial culture within your company

Want to harness these intrapreneurship benefits for your own business? Fostering an intrapreneurial culture is all about giving your employees ownership of their ideas and encouraging risk-taking. It’s also important to provide employees with room to play around and innovate, rather than keeping them occupied with their day jobs 24/7. You could also create a funding pot for intrapreneurial initiatives to ensure that the necessary resources are always available for employees who want to take innovation into their own hands.

What are the intrapreneurship characteristics to watch out for?

It’s important to remember that intrapreneurship isn’t for everyone. It’s best suited to start-ups which have much fewer corporate/administrative processes already in place. Furthermore, some people simply aren’t suited to being intrapreneurs – they’re more cautious, and if anything, their job performance might suffer if you encourage them to take a more intrapreneurial approach. As such, fostering a culture of intrapreneurship isn’t so much about creating intrapreneurs as discovering them.

So, what are the intrapreneurship characteristics that you should be on the look-out for? First off, all successful intrapreneurs have a proactive spirit. They don’t wait around for things to happen but take the initiative and move more quickly than their peers. Another key intrapreneurship characteristic is the ability to sell. A significant barrier to innovation within many organizations is the fact that good ideas suffer from a lack of sponsorship or salesmanship. If you can find employees with these sorts of competencies, you may be able to encourage an intrapreneurial spirit within your business.

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