Entrepreneur? Intrapreneur? Here’s what you need to know!

Entrepreneurs have always been the business world’s rockstars- business moguls who started from the bottom, either in a college dorm or a garage somewhere. Intrapreneurs, usually thought of as a kind of corporate-innovative genius, are not new either.

While both embody the characteristics of innovation, determination, creative thinking, and a willingness to take risks, there are a few significant differences. 

Entrepreneurs embody a combination of mindsets and behaviors that thrive on personal achievement, creativity, and risk-taking, to create successful businesses that fill market needs that previously had no solution. Known for being driven and even eccentric or unconventional at least: the pinnacles of business savvy and instinct, entrepreneurs inspire not only their employees to see their vision, but they inspire others to do the same, and teach them to strike out on their own to chase their dreams and passions. However, building a business from scratch can be a long and challenging journey filled with sleepless nights, extended work weeks,challenges, and setbacks. The benefits of the fabled flexible hours, and the be-your-own-boss pitches, don’t capture the reality of starting a business with no road map to follow. 

This is where the intrapreneur comes in. Able to strike the perfect balance between risk-taking and innovation, the intrapreneur hedges their bets against failure using resourcefulness and their understanding of the importance of structure. Even the largest corporations started small, and the most successful ones see the value of those who embody the entrepreneurial spirit right from the start. The term intrapreneur was coined to describe someone working within a company who is responsible for cultivating innovation in the workplace. 

Unfortunately, until recently, this idea has worked better in theory. Intrapreneurs often have the resources to experiment and create, but they sometimes end up isolated from the rest of the company. The systems that make up companies’ infrastructure often don’t apply to the intrapreneurial team. This leaves gaps in external and internal understanding of the company, and often creates separate entities in a way. Luckily, with time, we are now at a place where technology has pushed companies to understand that innovation must be built into an organization’s structures and goals. The systems that apply to everyone and everything in the company, must also include and support innovative thought as a natural part of the work environment. 

Intrapreneurs, then, are still the company’s rock stars, much like the entrepreneurs who set off independently of a larger company or organization. Only the environment within their organization is better positioned to support and instill a sense of entrepreneurial spirit in all staff members. Those who are already dynamic and creative individuals, can then easily assume the role of the intrapreneur, because the company culture appreciates them, and makes it easy.