If you swivel your chair and can see everyone your business employs, then you all collectively are the company. But if you have a staff of more than 10, some semblance (or a lot of) organization structure, and some defined roles, then you're more likely part of close-knit family of smaller business interests.

What's great about this sort of family in medium-to-larger organizations is that you have the opportunity to build your business within the business: a "b w/i b." Internal entrepreneurship is an underused yet amazing opportunity to create something new, pitch projects, win work, and build a following--all within the structure (and comfort) of a larger organization that is taking care of things like, um, your regular paycheck.

For 18 years before I started off on my own, I toyed with this internal entrepreneurial mindset--sometimes with more fervor than at other times, depending on my boss at the time and what was going on in our management consulting market. Whether I was up or down in terms of my positive outlook, when anyone asked what I liked most about my work, at the top of my list was the freedom to shape and lead business development while remaining in the comforts and structure of the larger business.

Being entrepreneurial from right where you are can be done--and done quite elegantly so that everyone benefits. Here's how:

  1. Shift your mindset. You must view yourself as an integral member of the organization--someone with a lot to offer and not just another cog in the wheel.
  2. Don't expect to receive or seek out anyone's approval to make this mindset shift. This decision and action is yours and yours alone.
  3. Compare the broader organizational objectives with your goals and your defined role. Whether you begin this exercise knowing everyone's role inside or take a little time to explore, create a list of your clients and customers, suppliers, board of directors, and consultants.
  4. Document your growth goals, key technologies, new test markets, and the feedback loops you will use to codify your role by making your contributions indispensable. Do a quick (personal) assessment of where your business within the business is today. Capture the baseline impact you have and begin measuring your accomplishments against your goals and those with positive ripple effects to the bigger business bottom-line.

Internal entrepreneurship can be empowering for you as an employee. The mindset shift alone removes you from the reactive "do" loop and puts you in the driver's seat of your personal business. Your organization wins, too. Any time someone is willing to personally invest and take ownership for their outcomes, the impact to the broader bottom line can be significant.