How to Be an Intrapreneur

Many employees are entrepreneurs at heart and believe they have to leave the corporate world in order to fulfill their dreams.  This is not necessarily so.  If you’re lucky, your organization is one that supports intrapreneurship – or the practice of entrepreneurial skills and approaches by or within an established organization. Employees, perhaps engaged in a special project within a larger firm, are encouraged to behave like entrepreneurs even though they have the resources and capabilities of the larger firm to draw upon.  Intrapreneurs focus on innovation and creativity and transform good ideas into profitable ventures.

Seek sponsors for your idea

If this sounds interesting to you, your first step is to identify a good idea for a new or improved process or product.  Then, seek a network of peers and sponsors to help you evaluate it and get it off the ground.  You might approach a more senior manager who can open doors or someone with technical expertise who has know-how and credibility.

Do your homework

Before you pitch your idea to a wider audience,  prepare a business plan.  Address your audience and speak in terms they understand.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and know when to let go.  Even if you’re convinced your idea will make the company billions, if you can’t sell it, move on to something else.

Take your time

Starting an intrapreneurial project out of thin air is going to be more challenging than joining an existing committee whose job it is to generate fresh product ideas.  You should wait until you’ve been around a while and have proven yourself as a smart, capable employee, and even then it takes guts, because there will always be some higher-up whose mission is to preserve the status quo.  Your best bet is to put together a bulletproof case that clearly demonstrates how your concept will benefit the company, and to share it subtly and modestly, one person at a time, until you have enough supporters to counter the naysayers.

Have you tried intrapreneurship?  What were the results?















Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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  • http://twitter.com/EvaRykr Eva Rykr

    As someone with lots of entrepreneurial spirit, I LOVE this idea. But I think it needs to go beyond “suggesting a project” and even beyond “preparing a business plan.” The intrapreneur needs to own the project just like an entrepreneur would own his company.

    But for that to be possible, the company needs to be willing to share the profit if the venture is wildly successful. Conversely, the intraparneur should have a Plan B, and be prepared to implement Plan C, whatever those may be, if things don't work out as planned.

    [Reply]

  • http://blogs.adobe.com/i2 Erik Larson

    Hi Eva and Alexandra – I've been blogging about this idea, thought you might find this post interesting, “Intrapreneurs are not Entrepreneurs,” http://blogs.adobe.com/i2/2010/03/intrepreneurs….

    [Reply]

  • alexandralevit

    @Eva: Great additional points re profit sharing and backup plans. Thanks so much!

    @Erik: Yes, I saw your post and I think I actually sent it around. Glad you're reading!

    [Reply]

  • JReid_DevCab

    I really like this article a lot, I am an entrepreneur at heart and just started a job at a relatively new marketing firm. I love that you address the issue of waiting for the right time, making your mark as being superb at what they are looking for. This does not mean the idea was any less good previously, but rather it gives your voice more credibility when you say you see a way to better the company. Another great point was if an idea is rejected, don't let it deter you from having others and also don't dwell on something that has been turned down. This is a tough line to walk on considering one of the strongest entrepreneurial traits is passion.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.twitter.com/007medina sofia

    Love the Idea! Often we feel stuck at work because we are physically, between walls, but thank goodness we aren't sucked into their mentality.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.discountiffany.com tiffany jewellery

    Get anonymous feedback on the meeting. Ask questions like “was this meeting helpful/necessary?” or “could we have achieved the outcomes in a better/different way?” Then read it and consider the suggestions.

    [Reply]

  • Alexandra Levit

    @Sofia and @JReid: So glad you liked the post, and great point re “if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.”

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Haller-Phd/100002745967339 Howard Haller Phd

    Great information about Intrapreneurship, a topic which is very important.

     

    “Intrapreneurship is the ‘Secret Weapon’ for success within major firms
    such as: 3M, Anaconda-Ericsson, Apple Computer, Autodesk, Corona Data Systems,
    Caribou Coffee, Gateway, GE, Genetech, Google, IBM, INTEL, iRobot, Kodak,
    Lockheed-Martin, PR1ME Computer, Sony, Sun Microsystems, TCI, Texas
    Instruments, Toyota, W. L. Gore, and Yahoo.” (A Quote from Dr. Haller’s book
    “Intrapreneurship Success.”)

     

    Intrapreneurship allows an employee to explore the entrepreneurial creation
    of a product, service, or division with their employer’s encouragement,
    resources, and support.

     

    Dr. Howard Haller’s book, “Intrapreneurship Success: A PR1ME Example”
    shares the well-documented case study of PR1ME Computer Inc. From 1977 to 1980,
    PR1ME successfully and effectively used Intrapreneurship to grow from a small
    OTC listed company to become the Number 1 performing company listed on the
    NYSE. Within 4 years PR1ME’s sales grew from $50 Million to $480 Million with
    strong profit margins.

     

    For more details on “Real World”
    Intrapreneurship Case Studies please visit: http://www.IntrapreneurshipInstitute.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Haller-Phd/100002745967339 Howard Haller Phd

    Great information about Intrapreneurship, a topic which is very important!

     

    “Intrapreneurship is the ‘Secret Weapon’ for success within major firms
    such as: 3M, Anaconda-Ericsson, Apple Computer, Autodesk, Corona Data Systems,
    Caribou Coffee, Gateway, GE, Genetech, Google, IBM, INTEL, iRobot, Kodak,
    Lockheed-Martin, PR1ME Computer, Sony, Sun Microsystems, TCI, Texas
    Instruments, Toyota, W. L. Gore, and Yahoo.” (A Quote from Dr. Haller’s book
    “Intrapreneurship Success.”)

     

    Intrapreneurship allows an employee to explore the entrepreneurial creation
    of a product, service, or division with their employer’s encouragement,
    resources, and support.

     

    Dr. Howard Haller’s book, “Intrapreneurship Success: A PR1ME Example”
    shares the well-documented case study of PR1ME Computer Inc. From 1977 to 1980,
    PR1ME successfully and effectively used Intrapreneurship to grow from a small
    OTC listed company to become the Number 1 performing company listed on the
    NYSE. Within 4 years PR1ME’s sales grew from $50 Million to $480 Million with
    strong profit margins.

     

    For more details on “Real World”
    Intrapreneurship Case Studies please visit: http://www.IntrapreneurshipInstitute.

    [Reply]

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