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Intrapreneurship and Innovation: Re-Thinking Your Business

When it comes to innovation, entrepreneurship is usually the first path that comes to mind. But that doesn't mean you have to start a brand new company just to be innovative. There’s another option for existing companies that’s becoming increasingly popular—intrapreneurship.

The word "intrapreneurship" was first coined by business authors Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot in the late 1970s, but it is even more relevant today. While it may sound like something reserved for startup companies, that’s not the case at all. Intrapreneurship can work for any type of business, no matter how large or established. So, let's discuss intrapreneurship and innovation and how businesses of all sizes can benefit. 


What Is Intrapreneurship?

An intrapreneur is a person who spearheads new experiments, projects, or initiatives within their company. Let us put it this way, intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs who generate innovative ideas for an existing company rather than starting their own.

Intrapreneurs are dedicated to their companies but also have the motivation, passion, and creativity of entrepreneurs. They live to bring revolutionary ideas to life, and employers are wise to give them the freedom to do so.

The concept of intrapreneurship shows how much the employer-employee relationship has evolved in the modern world. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Employees are happier and more productive when given the freedom and autonomy to work on the things that matter to them. Likewise, more and more employers understand how important it is to create a strong company culture of innovation to attract and retain top talent. The result has been a renewed focus on hiring people who are creative, proactive, and flexible—ideal personality traits for intrapreneurs.


What's the Difference Between an Entrepreneur and an Intrapreneur?

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have a lot in common. For one, they tend to have a similar combination of personality traits. A good entrepreneur and intrapreneur are usually funny, charming, and incredibly good looking. Ok kidding, we just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. The real traits of an entrepreneur and intrapreneur are:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Self-motivated
  • A challenge seeker
  • A problem solver
  • Curious
  • Passionate

While the spirit of innovation is the same, being an intrapreneur is not quite the same as being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs must use their own time and resources to pursue innovation, but intrapreneurs innovate as part of their jobs. They are given time for intrapreneurship and innovation just like any other job duty, and they have access to colleagues and company resources to support them. In other words, intrapreneurship combines the innovation of entrepreneurship with the security of working within an established company.

What kinds of ideas do intrapreneurs work on? While there’s no limit to what an entrepreneur may pursue, intrapreneurs naturally focus on ideas that benefit the company and its customers. For example, an intrapreneur might invent a new product, streamline an existing process, or conceive a whole new branch of services. In this way, intrapreneurship helps organizations grow by exploring new revenue streams and diversifying their company.

Not every employee is well-suited for intrapreneurship and innovation– and that’s okay. An entrepreneur can be a lone wolf, but intrapreneurs are always part of a pack. Because intrapreneurs rely on the expertise and support of their colleagues, every employee can contribute in a way that plays to their strengths. 


What Are the Benefits of Intrapreneurship and Innovation?

The tangible and intangible benefits of intrapreneurship can be jaw-dropping. When done well, intrapreneurship benefits both the company and its employees.


1. Financial Value

First of all, intrapreneurship makes money. Most companies have a wealth of million-dollar ideas floating around in their staff's heads like little gold nuggets on a pool floaty—but without actively encouraging them, most of those ideas just end up falling off their floaty and never make it out of the pool. An intrapreneurship and innovation program is the cannonball from the high dive into the pool that splashes those golden ideas out of the pool and gets them out in the open, allowing the business to capitalize on the best ones. 


2. Employee engagement

Intrapreneurship also boosts employee engagement. When employees don't feel engaged with their work, they're really just going through the motions until a better opportunity comes along. Intrapreneurship provides opportunities for employees to work on the projects that capture their interest and take ownership of them—and that's great for morale and productivity. When employees create something new and get to see the payoff of their hard work, they feel accomplished and motivated to do it again with a new project.

Intrapreneurship also encourages employees to develop leadership skills, which are valuable at all levels—not just for managers. A strong intrapreneurship program is like an incubator growing the next generation of managers and leaders at your company. 


3. Attract top talent

Companies dedicated to intrapreneurship can also recruit and retain top talent more easily, especially younger talent. More and more of the younger generation are looking for meaningful work, not just a paycheck. An intrapreneurship program offers motivated employees the opportunities to pursue projects that will both benefit the company and be fulfilling to the employee. 


4. Future-proofing the company

Finally, by developing innovative new ways to tap into new markets, intrapreneurship makes a company more adaptable and can help it survive through volatile economic periods. With the global economy in such a disruptive state, companies cannot afford to get stuck in a rut of doing the same things over and over. Now more than ever, the old saying rings true: "innovate or die."


Take the Next Step With the Experts on Intrapreneurship and Innovation

rready helps organizations make more innovative, supportive work environments by taking advantage of the benefits of intrapreneurship and innovation. With the KICKBOX program, based on a proven methodology used by more than a thousand companies globally, we can help you build an innovation management strategy that will drive intrapreneurship and innovation from idea generation to implementation.


rready is helping organizations charge past the barriers to intrapreneurship with our flexible KICKBOX program. Using our collaborative interface, your employees can share their ideas, get the resources they need, and see their vision become a reality! Our gamified KICKBOX toolbox is the perfect way for employees to be the CEO of their idea. It also discourages the 'no mistake culture' by giving the employee the tools to pivot and proceed after the validation phase. So if you're rready to get your employees innovating, Contact us today to get started.

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