Intrapreneur: The Career Opportunity You've Been Waiting For?
When you’re an entrepreneur, everyone has one burning question for you, “What’s better, entrepreneurship or being an employee?” In a world of opportunities, are those our only choices?What if you could have both and get all of that entrepreneurial satisfaction without all the brain damage, stress and heartache that comes with entrepreneurship? It’s possible and it’s called Intrapreneurship.
People Are Unhappy at Work
Looking at the obvious two career choices in life, — entrepreneurship or being an employee, those choices are leaving a lot of unsatisfied and unhappy people. There are lots of statistics but they all point in the same direction. 2014 Conference Board claims 52.3% of Americans are unhappy in their current job. IIP's Jobs Exodus survey found 57% of UK workers are unhappy, and Hays Canada just came out with a report that almost half (47%) of Canadian professionals are unhappy in their current job. So what are we going to do?
- If you’re one of the almost 50% of employees that are unhappy and have an electric entrepreneurial spirit and no outlet to plug into, you’ll probably keep your job and end up letting entrepreneurship fade away. It doesn’t have to be like that.
- If you’re an entrepreneur that has started a business you don’t love and can’t handle all of that stress, but are stuck with something that fits like a pair of pants that are way too tight, you’ll probably stick it out but you’ll be miserable. It doesn’t have to be like that.
An Entrepreneurial Outlet With Job Security
What if the uncertainty could be taken away for those that need security, while still allowing entrepreneurial spirit to be embraced? What’s needed is a hybrid, and that hybrid is Intrapreneurship. Webster’s say that an intrapreneur is: a corporate executive who develops new enterprises within the corporation. Sound exciting and let's not fuss about the "corporate executive part" because that is unnecessarily limiting.
Intrapreneurship can mean different things, but the general concept is that though you are an employee, you are working on new ideas, products, offerings, and even entirely new businesses as your actual job. Intrapreneurship, when done well, should allow for mind-blowing innovation within the company ecosystem without derailing the company. The term has actually been around for awhile but we are now seeing it put into wider practice. As an organization of entrepreneurs, we can even look at this and applaud it because it works for those that have the entrepreneurial spirit, but aren’t ready for the financial or emotional commitment that comes with entrepreneurship.
Let’s face it, starting a business is tough in ways that are unexplainable. A lot of people can’t comprehend the entrepreneurial hardships in front of them. As an entrepreneur you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, for a very long time. You are also going to have to accept that it can be an emotional and financial roller coaster that is not for the faint of heart, wallet or mind. In other words, it’s not for everyone. Intrapreneurship is an alternative for brilliant minds and energetic spirits that would otherwise be wasted due to the barriers of entrepreneurship.
On the flip side, it could also be an alternative for an entrepreneur that has all the skill-sets to succeed, but no longer wants the burden of being a business owner. We are seeing more and more companies talking about utilizing entrepreneurial principles within the organization to bring about change and innovation. Entrepreneurial spirit is infectious, and within the right corporate setting, it can be harnessed to add a significant amount of horsepower to the organization.
How do you become an Intrapreneur?
- If you feel you have the stuff to be an intrapreneur, you need to tell someone in your organization. We mean right now. Stop reading and start pitching.
- Come up with a business plan to show your serious. Ideas are great, but when you show up with a viable and exciting plan, you are also showing that you are a viable and exciting prospect for intrapreneurship.
- Be prepared to bootstrap on your own time if necessary. Get that employee mentality out of your brain because if you want to get rewarded like an entrepreneur, you need to work like one.
As a company, how do you bring intrapreneurship into your organization?
- Identify talent - This can be found internally through all types of different contests, job placements, etc… However, what we may start seeing is that companies are going to start to search out external entrepreneurs to inject the spirit and mentality into the organization.
- Treat them like investments and not employees - Make them come up with the ideas, bootstrap, pitch, and then be accountable as if they had to report to investors, but not with the shackles of a typical employee reporting structure.
- Let them share in the glory – This doesn’t mean a meaningless gift card to Starbucks. These are your hard core innovators, reward them properly and financially. Cheap rewards bring cheap ideas.
There is a lot more that goes into that, but from what we’ve seen in companies, this is a great start. So if you want your company to have a powerful culture of belief and innovation, it’s time to start your intrapreneur program today. If you don’t, your intrapreneurs may just become entrepreneurs, and worse, fierce competitors.