Intrapreneurship vs Corporate Entrepreneurship: What's Best for Your Company's Innovation Goals?

corporate entrepreneurYou have innovative ideas for your business and are eager to transform them into something substantial. You learn that business executives worldwide say 40% of innovations have positively impacted their bottom lines, and you're ready to stake your claim. Now, you find yourself wondering if you’re pursuing a role as an intrapreneur or a corporate entrepreneur. "But aren't they the same?" The short answer is "no."

The concepts of intrapreneurship vs. corporate entrepreneurship have similarities and sometimes are used to designate the same reality. Both ideas seem attractive to the context of your business model. However, there's only one that genuinely suits your needs.

Understanding these concepts and the differences while refining your original ideas is just the beginning. It will help you decide which role is best for you to pursue.

Intrapreneurship vs. Corporate Entrepreneurship—What’s the Difference?

Intrapreneurship describes a people-centric, bottom-up approach to developing revolutionary innovations in-house. It puts employees at the forefront of your organization and encourages them to create, design, and scale their ideas. The objective is to streamline the creation of new, inventive business models never used before, eliminating the numerous risks of running a business as an entrepreneur. And the advantages of intrapreneurship are plenty.

Perhaps you think that intrapreneurship can't lead to as great of a success as corporate entrepreneurship. Wrong. If you haven't been living in a cave for the last two decades, maybe you have heard of these powerhouse intrapreneurial ideas that changed the world:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Apple Mac
  4. DreamWorks Animation
  5. Amazon Prime

On the other hand, a corporate entrepreneur is someone who launches an entirely new organization, taking on all the risks and rewards that come with running a business. There’s no internal development if they already work for an organization. They take their ideas and build something brand new.

Comparison of a Corporate Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur

Check out this chart for a summarized comparison of both business models:

Comparison Corporate Entrepreneur Intrapreneur
Definition

Creates and facilitates a new business model—builds a new organization.

An employee of the organization takes charge of innovations in product, service, process, etc., and improves the existing business model.

Approach Instinctive

Restorative

Resources

Uses own resources

Uses resources within the organization

Enterprise

Newly established

Pre-existing

Dependency Independent Dependent
Risk

Takes on all responsibilities

Organization takes responsibility

Objective

Become a market leader

Innovate and reinvent existing culture and systems

There isn't necessarily a better or worse.  They are different things and can lead down different paths. For example, intrapreneurs may decide to branch out on their own and take on both innovation and the business side of things.  On the other hand, entrepreneurs may find running a business too stressful and just want to focus on creative innovation. How does that old quote go?  "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Just because you are one thing doesn't mean you can't pivot and be something else.

Making the Best Choice for Your Business

People want to be valued and treated as individuals. They want to be able to unleash their full potential, as do you, and build something beautiful. Innovation and lasting cultural change will reignite that spark and engagement and give everyone that extra push to strive forward.

Employees in smaller organizations typically have greater responsibility (and creative freedom) since there are only so many people to step up and cover all aspects of the business. They contribute directly to the success of the business—they genuinely feel a part of it.

Of course, corporate entrepreneurship is also built off fresh ideas and leads to creating a new business model, but it's a solo mission. It works for some and can produce great results. But it’s not for everyone. To determine the best approach, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would I rather have the resources and support from my current organization or try to come up with my own?
  • Do I have a strong understanding of the market?
  • Would I rather encourage and support my team and our ideas or use only my ideas to build a new business model/organization?
  • Do the responsibilities and risks of managing my business scare or excite me?
  • Can I navigate and improve my existing culture, or should I create my own?

Depending on how you answered the previous questions, you should have a better idea of what direction you want to go in. Either way, both are brave, commendable, and innovative choices. You have the freedom to choose! Just be sure to keep your objectives and innovative ideas straight ahead, and don't lose sight of why you started in the first place. If you're still unsure, turn to the professionals for some additional guidance.

Let rready Lead You in the Right Direction

rready has been helping medium to large organizations change the face of their businesses with the intrapreneurial powers of our KICKBOX program. We've supported over 4000 employees to validate, test, and improve their ideas through innovation management as a service and coaching. Only a culture that consistently values ideas and creativity will continuously produce bottom-up innovation. If you're rready to impact your business for the better and experience cultural transformation, contact us today.

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