An intrapreneur is someone who is an innovative and creative freethinker, passionate about doing things in a unique way. Intrapreneur thinks beyond cliche ideas, challenges the status quo, and comes up with viable solutions to problems.
In this article, we will explore the difference between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur, learn the different traits of an intrapreneur, and how you can become one.
Difference Between an Entrepreneur and an Intrapreneur
To begin with, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs share similar attributes; passion, zeal, conviction, and creativity. However, the two are different considerably from each other.
An entrepreneur is a person who takes a substantial risk to own and runs a business with the objective of making money out of it. They are vital for a business because they consider new opportunities, introduce new products, and envision techniques and business lines that will prove profitable in the long run. Entrepreneurs aim to create a leading position in the market and are mostly independent.
An intrapreneur on the contrary is an employee of an organization who brings changes and innovations to the company’s products, services, and processes. Intrapreneurs use the company’s resources to achieve their goals, unlike entrepreneurs who use their own. They aim to renew the existing culture and system in the organization and are mostly dependent on the organization’s policies and procedures.
Traits of an Intrapreneur
It is not so difficult to spot an intrapreneur in an organization. This is because such employees work with unmatched zeal and passion. They treat their job as their own business. Also, intrapreneurs are never afraid of taking up challenges. In fact, they are found coming up with resourceful and meaningful ways of dealing with challenges.
However, for purposes of clarity, we have listed below traits that you should be looking for in an intrapreneur:
Intrapreneurs are innovative and creative by definition but if they haven’t shared their unique ideas with their employer, they can be hard to spot. Employees who are self-starters are passionate about moving up in their careers without the help of others. They are problem solvers and are not afraid to take leaps of faith. They believe in taking risks and challenges.
So, always look for peeps who are ambitious and driven enough to take initiative on their own. Moreover, keep an eye out for employees who have some side hustle. This is because employees who work on projects apart from work are full of bright and creative ideas that can be used to benefit the company.
Thirsty for Knowledge
Another unique trait of intrapreneur is that they are eager to learn and grow. Their thirst for knowledge motivates them to acquire new skills and stay up to date with what’s going around in the world. Again, such people are a great resource for the company. Their willingness to learn and grow gives them the liberty to come up with innovative ideas for the company.
Intrapreneurs demonstrate flexibility in how they work. If they have a great idea but have to change the course of it, they do it willingly. They don’t consider failure as a defeat. In fact, they take it as a lesson and move forward. They know when to pivot and that allows them to grow personally and professionally.
Intrapreneurs demonstrate humbleness and sincerity in their work. This allows them to easily build trust and lasting relationships with people around them. They are also highly respected for their kindness and authenticity.
Intrapreneurs are great collaborators. They are always willing to lend a helping hand to their colleagues. In most cases, they come to our help immediately. This is because intrapreneurs believe in making strong relationships and connections with peers at work.
Intrapreneurs are creative and innovative thinkers. And it takes some guts to voice creative and out-of-the-box ideas amidst a sea of people. They are risk-takers and are always willing to take up a project or challenge proactively. This requires a great deal of confidence. There’s always a probability of an idea or project failing. And dealing with failure also requires patience and confidence.
Intrapreneurship requires patience and resilience. When you have to face a challenge or dig out answers to an ongoing problem, you have to have resilient behavior. Intrapreneurs don’t give up easily and are not easy to sway away from achieving their goal.
Employees with entrepreneurship skills communicate their strengthens and skills to maintain a positive reputation. For them, building a sound reputation is important in order to promote their skills and expertise. Apart from having a good professional image, intrapreneurs also maintain a strong online presence as well.
Why Do Companies Value Intrapreneurs?
Some people believe that having intrapreneurs can be a threat to the company. Well, that is not the case. In fact, the passion and zest that intrapreneurs bring are great for the company. Such employees take ownership of their work, take up new challenges and introduce commendable innovations to the business. Needless to say, the company would want to hire and retain such talent.
Some folks fear that giving the liberty to innovate will let employees use similar ideas for their side hustle. That is not an issue as long as there is no conflict of interest and that employees work on their side gigs outside work and working hours.
How Can You Become an Intrapreneur?
Now that you know how valuable intrapreneurs are to a business, the question is can you become one? Well, of course, you can.
But before moving forward, let’s clarify one thing. A lot of people believe that intrapreneurship mostly benefits an organization. Well, that is not the case. With intrapreneurial skills and mindset, you no doubt will be adding a lot to the success of a company. But at the same time, your learnings will beautify your resume and Linkedin profile.
Another important aspect is that being an intrapreneur, you can pursue projects that interest you using the company’s resources. This saves you the hassle of putting your own resources to use.
Here are a few ways in which you can start to think and act like an intrapreneur in your workplace:
Take initiative yourself instead of waiting for directions or instructions. If a new idea is brewing up in your head, start working on it and prepare a plan to show it to your boss.
Adapt to Change
Flexibility is crucial nowadays. Sometimes unexpected events come up which require employees to change gears immediately. So, be open to change. When the time comes, you should be able to roll up your sleeves and focus on things that require immediate attention. This most specifically applies to the times we are living in. These are unpredictable times that have lead to overnight changes in workplace dynamics.
Curiosity sparks interest which ultimately leads to making smarter choices. Ask as many probing questions as possible. The more questions you ask, the more your knowledge will increase. Having a substantial knowledge base helps one make informed decisions.
Challenge the Status Quo
If you’re an initiator, then you shouldn’t be afraid to suggest changes to existing processes. However, before suggesting a change, test the feasibility yourself. This will increase your credibility in the eyes of your boss.
Inspiring Examples of Intrapreneurship in Companies
Is there a more iconic meal in a box than the Happy Meal?
Did you know that the Happy Meal started as a(??) gimmick? The idea for this was pitched by a regional manager. The management was pleased with the uniqueness and creativity of the idea.
Now, you see Happy Meals as a mainstay in Mcdonald’s menus around the world. Also, this meal box is not just famous among children. You will often see adults lovin’ it equally.
We have all heard safety announcements on flights. And usually, the majority of them are boring. Needless to say, some passengers don’t even pay much heed to them.
Southwest Airlines made an attempt to make their in-flight safety announcements more engaging. Instead of going about in their usual manner, they added a bit of humor to their safety briefings. One such example is:
“Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then place it on your child. If you’re traveling with more than one child, start with the one with the greatest earning potential.”
This famous coffee place went far and beyond serving just coffee. They wanted to make it all about a good and memorable customer experience. so when a barista suggested putting names of customers on the coffee cups, the management was far more than intrigued. The idea got implemented and now we see this practice in all Starbucks stores around the world. Creative, wasn’t it?
This one is an interesting example. Back in the day, unlocking your phone was a long process. The technology of just looking at your mobile and unlocking didn’t exist.
So when an employee at Apple was on board, he had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. And it was in the bathroom that he experienced a eureka moment.
While in the bathroom he suddenly realized how easy was it to lock and unlock the lavatory door. All you had to do was swipe.
Teaming up with the engineers at Apple, his idea turned into reality. Swipe to lock and unlock is one of the key features of Apple today. Remarkable isn’t it?
We all know the frustration and fatigue of standing in queues especially when accompanied by children. Children tend to get impatient easily and this can make waiting in queues terrible and tiresome for parents.
A similar situation existed in Legoland. And this was noted by a frontline employee.
This individual came up with the idea of setting up tables with lego pieces in the center of these lines. And, it worked!
It kept children distracted and parents at peace while waiting in long queues.
The idea changed the entire customer experience at Legoland and it all came from an employee who faced this problem on a daily basis.
This example also demonstrated that leaders and executives are mostly unaware of what happens on the ground level. So, it makes all the more sense to let employees think creatively and innovatively.
Over To You
You are now aware of several aspects of intrapreneurship. We recommend you encourage it as much as possible in your company. The examples above are the result of retaining employees with such talent. Always ensure that your employees think and act creatively. And when they do, don’t forget to appreciate and celebrate them. It’s the little things that go a long way.