Intrapreneur: what it is and examples for career enhancement

An intrapreneur injects the spirit of startups into large companies, focusing on creating innovative business lines.  Unlike an entrepreneur who...
16 January 2024

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Intrapreneur: what it is and examples for career enhancement

An intrapreneur injects the spirit of startups into large companies, focusing on creating innovative business lines. 

Unlike an entrepreneur who bears all the risks of a project, an intrapreneur retains their salary to boost their company’s competitiveness through creativity and foresight.

This emerging role deserves a deeper understanding of its significance in dynamic and highly competitive markets. Therefore, we dedicate this article to delving into what an intrapreneur is, accompanied by examples to help improve your professional career.

Intrapreneur: what it is and examples for career enhancement

What is an intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is an employee within a company who develops a new business line 

to provide an innovative service or product, similar to an independent entrepreneur, while still receiving a salary. 

This individual must possess leadership skills to drive projects autonomously and become a catalyst for change within the organization.

This dynamic promotes the establishment of an innovation culture beneficial to the business fabric. 

In essence, intrapreneurship can be seen as transferring the entrepreneurial and dynamic spirit of startups to large corporations

It represents another twist in the role of companies as project incubators.

These projects also offer the added value of identifying and evaluating internal talent, enabling its enhancement for the benefit of both the company and the employee. 

Similarly, those with a restless and ambitious profile may not resort to job hopping if they realize they can acquire new skills and competencies while minimizing the risks of changing companies.

For employees, this opportunity proves to be a useful way to familiarize themselves with entrepreneurship and better understand how their organization operates.

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Skills that characterize an intrapreneur

The intrapreneur shares power skills, or essential abilities, with entrepreneurs to confront the challenges of a changing and highly competitive market:

  • Creativity: Innovation is futile, if not impossible, without creativity, closely linked to curiosity—the driving force behind intrapreneurship.
  • Adaptability: Continuous market changes require a flexible spirit capable of adapting to fluctuating needs and conditions.
  • Leadership: An intrapreneur must detect the talent needed for project development and be able to inspire or convince company executives to gain their support, as well as the commitment of potential collaborators.
  • Decision-making: In the development of any project, decision-making often occurs under pressure. Therefore, accepting and dealing with this responsibility is essential, with the clear objective of always seeking the greatest benefit for the company.
  • Critical thinking: An intrapreneur must have the ability to analyze a problem or obstacle from different perspectives to arrive at the most effective solutions.
  • Resilience: An intrapreneur is not only someone who trusts in their entrepreneurial vision but also persists in the roadmap they have set, turning obstacles and failures into learning or opportunities.

In summary, an intrapreneur is a visionary, inspiring, ambitious, proactive, self-demanding individual who values continuous learning to keep developing their professional career plan

All of this allows them to create an enriching synergy between their talent and the company’s objectives.

Disadvantages of intrapreneurship within a company

While intrapreneurship comes with various advantages, it’s important to acknowledge that, like any business strategy, it also has its disadvantages

Here are some potential drawbacks associated with intrapreneurship:

Resource allocation

Intrapreneurial projects may require significant resources, both in terms of time and finances.

This allocation might divert resources away from core business activities, affecting the overall efficiency and stability of the organization.

Risk of failure

Not all intrapreneurial initiatives succeed, and there is a risk of failure.

Unsuccessful projects can lead to wasted resources and potential demotivation among employees. Fear of failure may also stifle creativity and innovation.

Resistance to change

Employees and management may resist the changes associated with intrapreneurship.

Organizational inertia or resistance can hinder the adoption of new ideas, making it difficult for intrapreneurial projects to gain traction.

Conflict with the existing culture

The entrepreneurial mindset may clash with the existing corporate culture.

This misalignment can lead to tension and conflicts within the organization, making it challenging to integrate intrapreneurship seamlessly.

Lack of autonomy

In some cases, bureaucratic processes and hierarchical structures may limit the autonomy of intrapreneurs.

Reduced autonomy can hinder the speed and flexibility needed for intrapreneurial initiatives to thrive.

Short-term focus

Companies may prioritize short-term goals over long-term intrapreneurial projects.

Intrapreneurial endeavors often require time to mature, and a focus on short-term results may undermine the potential benefits of sustained innovation.

An intrapreneur is an employee within a company who develops a new business line

Difficulty in measurement

It can be challenging to establish clear metrics for measuring the success of intrapreneurial initiatives.

Difficulty in measurement may lead to uncertainty about the return on investment, making it harder to justify continued support for such projects.

Employee burnout

Intrapreneurs may experience burnout due to the high level of responsibility and the pressure to succeed.

Burnout can result in a decline in creativity, productivity, and overall job satisfaction, affecting both the individual and the organization.

Intellectual property issues

Determining ownership of ideas and innovations developed within the organization can be complex.

Disputes over intellectual property can arise, potentially leading to legal challenges and hampering collaboration.

Cultural misfit

The entrepreneurial mindset may not align with the values and norms of the existing corporate culture.

This misfit can create a sense of isolation for intrapreneurs and impede the integration of their ideas into the broader organizational framework.

It’s crucial for organizations to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of intrapreneurship and implement strategies to mitigate potential challenges. 

Successful intrapreneurship often requires a supportive organizational culture, clear communication, and a willingness to learn and adapt along the way.

Examples of intrapreneurship for professional improvement

If you want to enhance your professional skills, now that we have clarified the concepts and common qualities of an intrapreneur, it’s time to illustrate all this information. 

Intrapreneurship can manifest in one of these three examples:

Identification and transmission of opportunities

This occurs when an employee identifies new business opportunities and communicates them to the company

This is possible because the collaborator has a deep understanding of the organization’s needs and the reality of the industry to which it belongs. 

Such opportunities are detected by creative and visionary individuals whose talent is recognized, leading to horizontal or vertical development within the company.

Reactive response from the company

This type of intrapreneurship elicits a direct reaction from the company when an employee proposes an idea. 

When management assesses the viability of a product or service evolution, it provides the project promoter with the necessary resources and tools for development.

Examples of intrapreneurship for professional improvement

Proactive response from the company

In this intrapreneurship model, the organization proactively encourages an innovation culture by actively seeking the participation of creative profiles

The organization values contributions positively, providing the necessary resources for them to thrive. 

This dynamic strengthens the collaborative spirit among teams and consolidates employees’ commitment to the common project.

Due to its numerous benefits, intrapreneurship is being incorporated into the strategies of major companies such as Google, Amazon, or WL Gore, among many others. 

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