The term intrapreneur is not new, but you’re more likely to have heard of its big brother term, entrepreneur. So what is an intrapreneur and why should you be encouraging them within your business?
In simplified terms, an intrapreneur is an employee who comes up with innovative ideas or products that are then used by the company they work for to grow the business or compete more effectively. Rather than working for themselves as entrepreneurs do, they work within a company and focus their efforts on changes that could improve their employer’s business.
However, intrapreneurs are not the same as entrepreneurs.
Intrapreneurship is a way to tap into the ideas of people who best know your products/services - your staff.
It’s good for your business because it can drive growth and innovation by encouraging workers to deliver more and go beyond their job role. It can also help you to keep hold of talented staff for longer by giving them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to make a difference within the company. By giving them a challenge or a personal project to work on, they have a vested interest and will be more motivated to make it a success.
For largely the same reasons, it can be beneficial for your staff. It can help them to gain business knowledge and boost their own career – a top reason why employees look for other jobs. Intrapreneurship offers staff experiences that they wouldn’t have in their normal working day. Plus, by supporting their work or ideas, you’re also signalling your belief in them.
According to research last year from Forbes and American Express, 40% of millennial staff said they were interested in intrapreneurship and an even larger percentage of managers would be willing to support it.
Many large businesses have used intrapreneurship to their advantage. For example, Google allows its staff to work on their own projects for 20% of the time. They then have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to Google executives. This has resulted in products such as Google News and Gmail, which have both been successful.
Not everyone wants to run their own business and take on all the associated risks. Some people prefer to have a dependable wage each month, but they can still want to make a difference where they work. By enabling intrapreneurship, both your staff and your business can benefit.