An intrapreneur is someone who builds innovation within an established company. They bring the creativity and passion of entrepreneurship to their work, and dedicate themselves to growth and success. Intrapreneurship is probably best recognized in Google’s “20 percent time” initiative. When given 20 percent of their week to freely create, Google employees have created favorites like Gmail, AdSense, Google Maps, and more.
Committing to improving your workplace is also the best way to get noticed and build a positive relationship with your employer. This could be a huge bonus when it’s time for quarterly reviews and you’re negotiating your pay.
So boost your career and adopt an entrepreneurial spirit! Which really means consider becoming an intrapreneur, so that bigger, better thing of your dreams—maybe the house around the block you’d love if you had just a little less debt, or the shiny, new car you don’t have the credit score for—is a little more achievable.
The Difference Between Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship
At their core, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are creators. They see a need, brainstorm a solution, and build. The difference is that intrapreneurs build as an employee within an established company—saving themselves the risks of entrepreneurship while generating new products, systems, or value for their employer.
Businesses are built by entrepreneurs, but maintain innovation through intrapreneurs. The characteristics of the two overlap, but the biggest difference between them is who carries the risk. Entrepreneurs are launching a business themselves, holding all of the financial and market risks that make succeeding as an entrepreneur, or even trying to, so difficult.
7 Characteristics of an Intrapreneur
Intrapreneurs are all about growth and success. Here are a few core characteristics of success in any industry.
1. Eager to Learn
The key to being good at anything is to decide you’re never done learning. Industries change fast, and your competitors are working on new projects all the time. Stay motivated to learn and find new solutions to problems within your company.
Your company has competitors, and you need to be in on that competition to excel in your career. Competition is a healthy push to perform your best, and if you’re not competing, you can never win. Stay focused and stay positive, and your whole team will benefit.
Competition and collaboration aren’t mutually exclusive. Everyone on your team has value and specialized skills to bring to the table. You need to invite them to the table and make sure that everyone feels welcome to engage. This way you can better refine a project and build a healthy and positive team dynamic.
Creativity is a skill, which means you need to develop and maintain it. To practice creativity, you need to be able to switch perspectives, which gets easier the more you hear and understand various perspectives. This is where learning and collaborating come in! Considering other ideas that didn’t occur to you naturally expands the way you process ideas and information in the future. Continuing to stretch how you apply your experiences gives you a stronger, fuller view of any situation.
5. Open to Risk
The risk of intrapreneurship is redirected from you to your company, but the risk is still very real and intimidating. We all know nothing worth having comes easy, so embrace the risk and learn from your mistakes. It gets easier, and you’ll be better for it.
6. Out of the Box
We like to create boundaries because they’re safe, but you shouldn’t restrict yourself with mental blocks. Intrapreneurs build and maintain confidence in themselves instead of deciding that something’s too hard, their boss will say no, or they may fail. Rewire your thinking and imagine how impressed your boss might be when you present your research, and when you consider how much you can learn through the process, you’ll realize it’s only a failure if you don’t try.
Your boss resigned and you don’t know where that leaves your project. Or maybe your teammate switched departments and you’re short a designer with a looming deadline. Life happens and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Stay adaptable by being prepared, and learn from your experiences and those of others to anticipate changes. Others may look to you for leadership, so stay cool and keep everything positive to deliver.
How Intrapreneurship Can Advance Your Career
Intrapreneurs are valuable because they recognize the steps to success and act on those. Your leads will take notice when you step up and begin delivering impressive results with your projects. Managers are quick to identify and reward intrapreneurship.
1. Position Yourself as a Leader
Initiative and confidence make for great leaders. What a coincidence, they’re also keys to a successful intrapreneur. Invite others to collaborate on your latest pitch and offer yourself when you see a colleague could use some help on their own project. This way you’re building trust, contributing to a positive company culture, and producing better work as a team.
2. Build Skills to Take You Further in Life
The intrapreneurial characteristics we’ve listed can improve all aspects of your life. Build your network with collaboration, overcome imposter syndrome to apply for an open management position, and take that coding class you’ve been thinking about for a year. Confidence and creativity can solve just about any problem.
3. Learn How to Overcome Failure
We’d like to be right 100 percent of the time, but we’re not and that’s okay. Every failure is a lesson, and it’s a lesson to share. Be humble and accept failure. Your manager will appreciate seeing how you apply these lessons to your next pitch and its success.
4. Earn More Money
Life lessons are great, but they won’t buy you that new car. The good news is that your raise because you created the next AdSense (or solved your internal data management problem) will. That management position you applied for will feel more achievable with your proven leadership skills and department improvements. If it comes to it, you also have an impressive resume and experience to begin interviewing elsewhere. Stay alert for opportunities to increase your earning potential and build a stronger financial life.
Check out the infographic below for more tips on embracing intrapreneurship, and how it can supercharge your career.
Intrapreneurs have the initiative, confidence, and creativity to provide value through innovation. They bring the entrepreneurial spirit and growth to a company without carrying the risk of traditional entrepreneurship. Managers are quick to notice this kind of leadership and dedication, opening doors for career growth and financial health.
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