Have you ever thought of yourself as a risk taker? You know, someone who pushes the envelope, challenges the status quo or maybe someone who finds the word “impossible” to be a challenge. Now, what if you were acting this way in an attempt to better your business/employer? If you are taking risks and being innovative for the possibility of bettering your business, you might be an intrapreneur.
An intrapreneur is defined as “an employee of a business who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, etc. and does not have to follow the usual routines or protocols” according to the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary adds on that an intrapreneur takes responsibility for an idea through assertive risk taking and innovation. Further yet, Christian Koch goes on to say that intrapreneurs are the “secret weapon” of the business world.
To sum it all up, an intrapreneur is an employee who takes risks in the hope and desire they pay off for the better of the business.
Intrapreneurs can have a very positive impact on a business. The work of intrapreneurs can lead to increased productivity. When new ideas and tasks are presented, more people are often needed to make these dreams a reality. Adding more people to a new project can lead to more work being completed and more employee engagement.
Along with increased motivation in a business, intrapreneurship can also lead to an increase in innovation – and who doesn’t want that? New ideas can bring about a need for new processes, technology, etc. Acknowledging this need and acting on it can introduce new-to-your business tools that can help foster growth and change which could help your business get ahead.
Another positive impact from intrapreneurs comes from their understanding of current trends and issues. The risks these employees take are usually to address a need or opportunity their business can capitalize on. By keeping up with, and acting on, trends, intrapreneurs can help the business gain a competitive advantage by being early adopters. This competitive advantage can help your business get the leg up it needs to be successful.
These intrapreneurs sound pretty great, right? So how do you go about creating a culture of intrapreneurship in your business?
- Reward and Recognize Behavior — Reward your employees for taking the initiative or for thinking ahead on projects. Whether it’s a simple thank you, pat on the back or going for lunch, this can show your employees you value (and encourage) them to step up and be innovative.
- Encourage Healthy Competition – Healthy competition can be extremely helpful when trying to foster a culture of intrapreneurship. This can often times lead to employees working hard in order to win by getting the best results. To do so, it’s possible they will have to come up with new or unique ideas – which can help them transfer this skill over to other parts of their work.
- Encourage Networking and Collaboration – You’ve heard the saying – two minds are better than one. Encouraging your employees to network and work together on projects can lead to more innovation and productivity, as well as new ideas and feedback. Offering brainstorming sessions allows a set time for employees to get together and collaborate at a time that works for everyone.
As great as having an intrapreneur sounds, it’s important to remember that intrapreneurs simply do not fit in some businesses. Because intrapreneurs take risks and like to push the envelope, they usually do not fit well with businesses who have a tried and true way of operating. Businesses that have been around for many years, or those who have a set process in place might struggle to adopt and compliment the skills and characteristics of an intrapreneur. Because of their risky behavior, intrapreneurs can cause conflict and disruptions between employees and the business. In this case, it is best to focus on communication in order to keep everyone on the right track and working efficiently and effectively.
Although intrapreneurs can have both positive and negative impacts on a business, it’s important to remember that intrapreneurs typically have the business’s best interest as heart. They’re not just showing up to work for the paycheck. Rather, they are investing in the company by bringing passion and a desire to better the business through innovation and risk taking.