Intrapreneurship: What Is It and How Can You Become an Intrapreneur?

Learn about intrapreneurship, what it is and how you can become an intrapreneur in your organisation, with these 7 steps and tips. Written by Letícia Miranda.

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Entrepreneurship, most of you will know all about it already. Some of you will know the word but not have a full comprehension of what it is. But what about intrapreneurship? Any idea? Perhaps you do but for a lot of people reading this, the concept will be a relatively new one. We confess, when we begun researching intrapreneurs and the concept of intrapreneurship, we weren’t as informed as we should have been.

As its name suggests, intrapreneurship is actually a shortened phrase for internal entrepreneurship. Internal entrepreneurship is the concept of entrepreneurship within the limits of an existing organisation. Many an organisation will have entrepreneurship as their organisational value or branding tone of voice, and this is where intrapreneurship comes into play. The term derives from the English word intrapreneur which, in turn, was created from the abbreviation of the expression to incorporate entrepreneurialism.

The objective of intrapreneurship is to promote the growth and increase of competitiveness in organisations. Intrapreneurship is considered to be extremely powerful, as it is capable of generating permanent competitive advantages through the constant generation of innovation.

In addition to increasing the level of innovation and productivity of organisations, the concept allows companies to be organised so that work is more often an expression of the person's contribution to society, which, in turn, encourages workforce productivity and employee satisfaction.

An intrapreneur is a professional who undertakes entrepreneurial activities internally in an organisation and with the support of an organisation. Whether acting towards incremental improvements of internal processes, in the development of new products or in cases where there is more openness, creating new business units, intrapreneurship can take a wide range of guises.

Being an intrapreneur has both a wide-range of benefits, such as financial and brand supported growth, but often comes with a number of limiting factors too. If you’re working for an organisation and looking to develop your entrepreneurial flare, intrapreneurship might be a great starting place.

So, how do I become an intrapreneur?

If you are thinking of pursuing an intrapreneurial career, have a look through a few points we’ve listed below to help you:

1. Understand Your Organisation’s Willingness to Innovate
Before dedicating yourself to intrapreneurship, make sure that the company is really open to new ideas, concepts and innovation. One of the most frustrating things for an intrapreneur is to have their ideas denied by a head or organisation, a senior leader or business unit. Understand how genuine your organisation really is when it comes to entrepreneurialism. Some organisations may truly encourage it and have programmes to support their employees, whilst others simply like the concept but the reality is different.

2. Develop a Systemic View
It doesn't really matter if you are going to undertake your project inside or outside an organisation. What is important to have a holistic view when working on an innovative, entrepreneurial initiatives. Developing a systemic vision will help you better understand how strategic issues and interdependencies in your new venture are affected. Every entrepreneur should know the basics about the factors that drive a business to success. Sales are important, financial health is important, the people involved are very important and so are a number of other factors. Learn about these factors and the basics of entrepreneurship, regardless of whether applying it internally or externally and independently.

3. Study the Process of Innovation
Nowadays, when everything happens at extreme speeds, it is vital to know how the process of innovation really works. In particular, learning about how startups work and how you can bring these concepts into your organisation. Startups are often developed in a “build, measure and learn” philosophy. This philosophy is based on the concept of “make mistakes as quickly as possible". This is still not well acknowledged or widely accepted within organisations, so it is always a good idea to analyse how engaged your organisation truly is with innovation (note point 1).

4. Be Strategic
Once you feel confident about points 1, 2 and 3 on the list, it is time to get moving. Ask yourself a few questions and act strategically. Why are you starting the project? What is the expected result? How are you planning to achieve this result? How does achieving this result help the organisation take the next step? You need to develop your vision as much as possible, up front.

5. Practice Communication
Communication is essential for an intrapreneur. It’s pretty important for an entrepreneur too but you need to communicate to even more people, even more effectively when you’re operating as an intrapreneur. You will often need to communicate to your leaders and followers. Share the wins and losses with your whole team, keep everyone in the loop and always try and show your progress.

6. Try to Be Result Oriented
Innovation needs to pay off. That is the simple truth and it is even more important when you’re doing this within an organisation that is focused on profit margins, salaries and returns on investment. Everything you do in your day-to-day needs to have a goal: to make the project you are working on progress. Follow all the indicators that can be followed and analyse the data you collect. You may need a change in strategy from time-to-time.

7. Don’t be Afraid to Be Creative
The creativity we seek here is the ability to solve problems. To develop this skill, you’ll need to read a lot, study entrepreneurship and develop your vision. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is all about taking risk. This doesn’t change for intrapreneurs either.

So, there you have it. These skills are useful for anyone, intrapreneur or not. Study, develop and grow. If you manage to add a little of each of these concepts in your day to day, it will undoubtedly help you to develop. Remember, having a mentor to help you on your journey in entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and career development is vital. Click here to join PushFar’s free open mentoring platform and get mentoring today. Good luck trying to fit into this model of intrapreneurship and don't forget to seek mentoring to achieve even more promising results.
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