An intrapreneur is ‘an employee who behaves like an entrepreneur, taking risks and being innovative to turn an idea into a product or service.
Being an intrapreneur can be a useful strategy for budding small business owners who are not quite ready to strike out on their own, but want access to the resources and established customer base of their employers. The trick is then being able to make the transition from intrapreneur to entrepreneur without burning bridges (e.g. through disputed intellectual property ownership), stepping on toes, or losing one’s self-confidence without the backing of a bigger more established company.
Some intrapreneurs remain just that, benefiting their parent or host businesses.
Small business owners who encourage their employees to be intrapreneurs can benefit from a business that remains current and ‘with it’, sustained profitability, and employees who are faithful to the small business owner’s goals and vision because they are part of the fold and do not have conflicting interests.
How can small business owners promote successful intrapreneurship?
Small business owners can allow employees to spend time working on pet projects, using company facilities and resources. Intrapreneurs should have the opportunity to share and refine their ideas, particularly being able to pitch them to key decision-makers in the organization.
Ernst & Young Secrets of successful intrapreneurship also suggests strategies such as businesses embracing and tolerating the possibility of failure associated with intrepreneurship, and structuring appealing career paths for intrapreneurs. Not all small business employees can be intrapreneurs, just as not all small business owners can automatically be labeled entrepreneurs. In addition, small business owners still need to exercise control and good judgment in deciding which intrapreneurial ideas could be beneficial to the business and which ones should be discarded.
The essence of intrapreneurship is employees having a sense of ownership and belonging, doing everything they can to be proactive and make the business better and stronger in every possible sense.
Why would any small business owner shy away from this?