What is an intrapreneur?
An intrapreneur is someone who works somewhat like an entrepreneur but within the confines of a company that’s already established. They’re empowered to break free from the company’s normal business operations and culture in order to bring new ideas, creativity, and innovation. Intrapreneurs are looking to do things their own way that, in the end, helps the company succeed.
Intrapreneurs play a crucial role in companies like these because they’re always looking to create something new and different that pushes the boundaries of existing thought. This skill makes intrapreneurs an amazing asset to any business. Their creative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking can help even large organizations be a lighthouse brand in their industry.
Large organizations should consider acquiring and retaining their creative talent (intrapreneurs) to help them stay innovative. Otherwise, they cannot compete with smaller, disruptive companies, which have less overhead and more flexibility. One example of how a large company has tapped into its intrapreneurial talent is Google. The leadership at Google has worked hard to create a startup culture within their enormous corporation in order to retain their highly coveted talent and thus the entrepreneurial nature of Google as a company.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for intrapreneurs to leave their company to start their own ventures. Their biggest strength, their creative and driven mind, doesn’t mesh well with the rigid nature of most organizations. So now they’re entrepreneurs, and potentially, your competitors. What can we do as business leaders to keep intrapreneurs and support their strengths and needs within our business? How do we keep to our core principles and deliver to existing customers while still trying to evolve and grow this creativity?
How to support intrapreneurs
Allow intrapreneurs to explore their ideas the way they are comfortable with but in a public setting. Invite them to brainstorm in whatever way they feel necessary, such as wearing headphones or going to a quiet place within the building to brainstorm new ideas that increase the company’s product or service lines. Maybe your company can create a special space or room where employees can freely go to think and channel their creative side.
Another way to help intrapreneurs is to actually take ideas a step further and implement them into the company plans. Try implementing their ideas internally first before taking a bigger risk and incorporating it into a client’s existing project or even in an internal initiative.
Learn your employees’ outside passions and encourage them to bring them within the company.
By finding ways to support intrapreneurs internally, your business can begin to hone in on a startup culture; the result is improvements in talent retention, and a creative flame burns like wildfire organizationally. In the end, intrapreneurs can bring a lot of positivity and growth to your business and take it to heights you might not have expected. Intrapreneurs might sometimes be the “black sheep” of the company culture, but oftentimes, it is those unique perspectives and big-picture thinkers that can bring the best value to your business’s success.
The best companies figure that out; good companies try, and the best companies use it. Some people are willing to work 40 hours a week to live, but others are really excited by what they do in and outside of work. Now, it’s your job as an entrepreneur to bring the creativity out of the intrapreneur and work together to pursue your passions collaboratively for the advancement of the company and each other.