From An Entrepreneur to Intrapreneur

Today’s corporate world is a fast paced, energetic…and for some people, a world full of possibilities. 

So what determines success, innovation, and forward thinking in any given company?

The entrepreneurial spirit. 

For me, this spirit has been a catalyst of success in my work today.

In my work previous work with Drivve, I was tasked with bringing it to an entirely untapped market. It was there that my entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear, as I built their presence here in the U.S. from the ground up. 

There are few things out there that will stir up resourcefulness quite like entrepreneurship.

Running a lean entrepreneurial operation allows for speed that simply isn’t present in larger corporations. Even as my work at Drivve grew (at a rapid pace), I still maintained an incredible amount of agility as we scaled. 

However, stepping back into the corporate world – required a bit of a skillset shift. I couldn’t just check my entrepreneurial spirit at the door. I had to adapt the assets to fit my new setting while growing in the areas of navigating the corporate landscape and having patience in a larger company. 

I had to make the shift from Entrepreneur to Intrapraneur…a leap that wasn’t as big as it might seem.

What is an Intrapreneur?

An Intrapreneur is a term that has been around for awhile, but there’s still some confusion around what is means and how it’s different from an entrepreneur. An intrapreneur is defined as: an entrepreneur who creates innovation within the structure of their company. 

While an entrepreneur seeks to build new companies, providing new services, products and offers – the intrapreneur uses the same innovation and creativity to create changes and improve upon what’s happening in an existing company.

Qualities of Intrapreneurs

  • Intrapreneurs are Leaders: Perhaps the most important characteristic of successful intrapreneurs is having the leadership skills it takes to motivate others to achieve goals embrace change, and try things that are not 100% proven.
  • Intrapreneurs have Vision: An intrapreneur is never happy with the status quo. They are always looking for ways to innovate, upgrade, and improve. They can see the possibilities and are willing to hold the vision close, even when no one else sees the vision.
  • Intrapreneurs are Out of The Box Thinkers: They don’t just look at the same old problems and offer the same old solutions. They come to the table with fresh new ideas. They are creative and resourceful – driven by the vision they hold.
  • Intrapreneurs are Not Afraid to Try: failure is not a final thing for intrapreneurs. They are willing to take calculated risks with the hopes of a big pay off for the company at the end. They learn from their mistakes and are willing to try something new.
  • They are Adaptable: They don’t cling to stability. They welcome change. They are able to swiftly adapt to new trends, new people, and new situations. Intrapreneurs are able to change direction quickly and effortlessly.
  • Intrapreneurs focus on Growth. They don’t just do their job, they continue to look for new ways to grow personally, professionally, and they will look for ways to grow the company. They tend to see the big picture and vision of a company, and are highly motivated to move that forward.

These traits are what place intrapreneurs ahead of the pack, and make them a reliable source for services, goods, and new ideas.

Cultivating Intrapreneurship in Your Company

Intrapreneurship starts at the top of a company. It starts with the C-suite giving their teams the time and space they need to be innovative. 

Here are a few ways to cultivate Intrapreneurship in your company.

Hire Intrapreneurs

This seems obvious – but all too often, we look for people with the glossiest resumes, not the most important skills. 

Sure, it’s nice that someone went to a shiny Ivy-League school – but can they think on their feet? Can they solve problems with novel ideas? Can they make decisions when there’s a lot on the line?

Getting to the heart of a person, what makes them tick, and their ability to contribute to your company is absolutely critical in your interview process. 

Give candidates real life problems to solve that could arise in the role they are being hired for. 

Ask them to share about a time they were in a tight spot, and what they did to get out of that. 

Have them tell you about the ways they made improvements at their last job. 

If you ask the same old questions – you will get the same old responses. If you want a team of intrapreneurs – ask different questions.

Give Them Freedom 

Even the most intrapreneurial hires – won’t be creative if they aren’t given the time and space to think of new ideas and make decisions. 

Allowing your team to make decisions gives them a sense of responsibility and a desire to see things moving in the right direction. It lets them know that you are confident in their ability to lead. Obviously, this is something people work up to – but slowly easing your team members into decision making roles is critical for the development of intrapreneurship. 

Add Some Competition

Have a huge pitch coming up? Make it a contest. The most innovative idea gets to pitch to your client.

Have a company-wide problem? Make it a contest. The most creative way to solve the problem gets implemented (and rewarded). 

A little friendly competition that is supportive and encouraging will bring out the very best in your people. 

Leave room for failure 

Obviously, we want all of our team members to be successful, all of the time. However, that’s just not going to happen. 

Leaving some room for and giving grace in failure is going to be critical to creating an intrapreneurial culture. If people feel as though they can never make a mistake, they will never try anything new. There is nothing that will squash creativity faster than the fear of failure. 

Let your people know that calculated risks are okay and that even if things don’t go as planned, there will be an opportunity to learn and grow in the process. 

Lead by example, and praise those who are exercising their entrepreneurial muscle to grow your company. Reward those who think outside of the box in order to make things better. Foster discussions listen to your people’s ideas, and create a culture that celebrates innovation. 

Building your company on a team that is okay settling for the status quo will get you run of the mill results. Building a team that is always hungry, always innovating, and always adapting will skyrocket your profitability and impact. 

Does your company do a good job cultivating intrepreneurship? If so, how? Let me know in the comments below!

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