Intrapreneurship is a relatively recent concept that focuses on employees of a company that have many of the attributes of entrepreneurs. An intrapreneur is someone within a company that takes risks in an effort to solve a given problem. Through much research it is becoming well understood how important intrapreneurs are to a successful company. So what should an entrepreneur know about intrapreneurs? Here are 10 key points:
- The distinction between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can be seen as a difference in the level of focus. While an entrepreneur should see the company as a vision from starting point to end; the intrapreneur is a facet of this broader vision. The intrapreneur works within the company to solve a specific problem. Thus intraprenuers should have more directly applicable skills for a given task. The intrapreneur will take risks, but within the context of their job in the company. The intrapreneur, unlike the entrepreneur, is not focused on the entire company, but rather processes within it.
- Intrapreneurs are major contributors to increases in productivity within companies. Like entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs take risks and find more effective ways to accomplish tasks. An intrapreneur, in the most basic sense, is a skilled problem solver that can take on important tasks within a company.
- Intrapreneurs are the drivers of innovation within companies. In a similar role to that of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs seek to provide solutions to unique market driven problems. They seek policies, technologies and application that resolve a barrier to productivity increases. Like the entrepreneur who starts a company with the goal of providing a good or service, the intrapreneur takes on a task within the company to increase the capacity of the company.
- One should really understand how intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship are linked. In fact, it is often taking on intrapreneurial tasks that allow someone to build the skill needed to eventually become an entrepreneur. Basically, intrapreneurship is the first step on the ladder to becoming an entrepreneur. As an intrapreneur builds the aptitude to recognize and solve important problems they build the skills necessary to one day start a company.
- Similar to how an entrepreneur requires the ability to experiment, along with freedom and room to grow, so too does an intrapreneur. The process of intrapreneurship requires autonomy and independence to truly investigate every angle of the given problem they are presented with. If one wishes to control every act the intrapreneur does then they will stifle the experimental and creative process.
- A successful intrapreneur understands trends; they see where the company needs to go before anyone else. Any successful company must have a number of intraprenuers to see future trends and meet them before their competitors do. In this respect good intrapreneurs are the most important asset a company has.
- Intrapreneurs will become the building blocks of a company's executive teams and leaders. They are the driving force that moves a company forward and they will inevitably rise to the top of the company as they understand the company from all levels. Starting from the bottom, they will see the company as a set of processes in which every process must evolve.
- A company must be aware of its most successful intrapreneurs; the company must recognize and promote them as soon as possible. It is through this recognition that a company will succeed and grow. The intrapreneur is the most fundamental component of an innovative and growing company. A company requires intraprenuers at each level to problem solve and integrate each process into the greater whole.
- Unlike employees who are simply with a company to get a paycheck, intrapreneurs should be viewed as part of the company. They do more than just commit their time to a company, as they also invest their skills. Intrapreneurs see the ability to grow personally along with the company and in this sense, should be seen as investors in a company, rather than just employees. An intrapreneur is someone who grows with the company; it is a symbiotic relationship as the company helps them and they, in turn, help the company.
- A company grows when you find the virtuous cycle of entrepreneurs hiring intrapreneurs. A good entrepreneur recognizes talented intrapreneurs and as they are promoted they intern recognize good intraprenuers below them. In this fashion a company culture is constructed where talented innovators teach and foster the growth of other talented innovators. This cycle continues and the company will become a truly innovative leader.
Chirag Kulkarni, the chief executive officer of C&M Group, an entrepreneurial strategy consulting firm focused on growth and new product innovation for startups to Fortune 500s mentions that "intrapreneurs are key drivers of growth in companies large and small, and can serve as excellent managers and people worth developing to later pursue entrepreneurial ventures. If you are looking for individuals with corporate experience for your startup, intrapreneurs are the ones to hire because they understand corporate upheavals, but will still be driven and motivated to work towards growing your company"