What Is Intrapreneurship?

The term intrapreneurship refers to a system that allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur within a company or other organization. Intrapreneurs are self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who take the initiative to pursue an innovative product or service. An intrapreneur knows failure does not have a personal cost as it does for an entrepreneur since the organization absorbs losses that arise from failure.

Key Takeaways

  • Intrapreneurship is a system which allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur within an organization.
  • Intrapreneurs are self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who have leadership skills and think outside the box.
  • Intrapreneurship is one step toward entrepreneurship—intrepreneurs can use what they've learned as part of a team to develop their own businesses.

Understanding Intrapreneurships

An intrapreneurship creates an entrepreneurial environment by allowing employees to use their entrepreneurial skills for the benefit of both the company and the employee. It gives employees the freedom to experiment, as well as the potential for growth within an organization.

Intrapreneurships foster autonomy and independence, while attempting to find the best resolution. For example, an intrapreneurship may require an employee to research and recommend a more efficient workflow chart to a company’s brand within a target group or implement a way to benefit company culture.

It's important for employers to recognize these employees. By not promoting intrapreneurship or recognizing employees who demonstrate an intrapreneurial spirit can be detrimental to a brand or company. Employers who encourage intrapreneurship stand to benefit because it leads to the success of the department or the company as a whole. Keeping these employees can help lead to innovation and growth. Companies that don't promote them may lose intrapreneurs to other companies, or they may end up working for themselves.

Identifying intrapreneurs can sometimes be difficult. These employees are generally self-starters who are both ambitious and goal oriented. They are often able to solve problems on their own, and come up with ideas that lead to process improvements. An intrapreneur may also take certain risks by assuming multiple tasks—even some that he or she may not be comfortable with—and look for new challenges.

Intrapreneurs are tasked with using the company's resources, while entrepreneurs use their own.

Special Considerations

Intrapreneurship is one step toward entrepreneurship. Intrapreneurs can develop and use their creativity to enhance existing goods and services within the context of the business, all without any of the risk attached to being an entrepreneur. Using these skills as part of a team lets the intrapreneur test theories and determine which methods are most effective for solving problems.

Intrapreneurs may use what they've learned as part of an organization's team to create their own company and reap the benefits of their hard work rather than letting another organization profit from their ideas.

Types of Intrapreneurs

By including employees from every age group when resolving issues, a variety of answers are proposed and resolutions determined in a more efficient manner, benefiting everyone in the organization. A majority of millennials are embracing the intrapreneurial style of work. They desire meaning, creativity and autonomy when working. Millennials want their own projects to develop as they help their companies grow.

Characteristics of Intrapreneurs

Intrapreneurs are able to resolve specific issues such as increasing productivity or cutting costs. This requires a high level of skill—namely leadership skills and thinking outside the box—directly applicable to the assignment. An intrapreneur also takes risks and drives innovation within a business to better serve the market through increased goods and services.

A successful intrapreneur is comfortable being uncomfortable while testing his or her ideas until achieving the desired results. He or she is also able to interpret trends in the marketplace and visualize how the company needs to evolve to stay ahead of its competition. The intrapreneur is part of a company's backbone and the driving force mapping out the organization’s future.

Example of Intrapreneurship

Ramzi Haidamus, the president of Nokia Technologies, is often considered an intrapreneur because of his initiatives with the company. He decided to do away with individual offices within three months of starting his job in 2014. He believed an open office led to more sharing of ideas and added greater value to the organization. Haidamus interviewed more than 100 engineers individually to determine which technologies had the greatest chance of being successful in the marketplace at the time.