Section 2: The Entrepreneurial Life
Part 3: Intrapreneurs
What is an Intrapreneur?
Intra finds its root in Latin and means “from the inside” or “within”. A word you will run into in business is “intranet” which is like the internet but is restricted to individuals within an organization. Similarly, an intrapreneur is someone who works to bring about change within an organization.
Picture this scenario: you are working for a small company that has about 100 employees. Because you have taken some very practical marketing and entrepreneurship courses, you are able to see the possibilities for growth that exist in that organization. You approach your employer with a plan to capitalize on the opportunities and increase the profits of the company. Let’s assume that the owner likes your plan. He enlists your help to bring about the change that you’ve suggested. You gather a team around you and carefully execute the plan. Basically, you are an intrapreneur.
An intrapreneur might work for a small, medium, or large organization. They might even be the owner who has worked in the business for several years but now sees an opportunity to expand the business in a new direction or with a new product or service.
The skills that you will require as an intrapreneur will be similar to that of an entrepreneur, but with four areas of extra ability.
1. You will need to be a good vision caster. You must be able to help other people see the possibilities of what could be.
2. You will need to be a good motivator and encourager. Often people get stuck in a rut or a certain way of doing things. They get comfortable and may resent you if you try to bring about change.
3. You will need to be a good team leader. Change in an organization normally requires the effort of many people. Their actions need to be coordinated into a plan where everyone has a job to do with deliverables—that means they must deliver an outcome in a certain time frame.
4. You will need to be extra patient. Change within an organization often takes a lot more time. It’s like moving an aircraft carrier—it takes several minutes to turn an aircraft carrier and move it in the opposite direction, unlike a ski boat that might take only a second or two. Of course, one could turn an aircraft carrier faster, but that’s when things start falling overboard.
It’s a good analogy—as an intrapreneur, you need to consider the effect of your changes on the lives of those who will be impacted. Sometimes the best course of action is a speedy change because the lives of those on board are in jeopardy—like the torpedo of a competitor is about to hit! Other times, your timing can be gentler and you make sure everyone on board is secure.