An intrapreneur is an employee who works within the company like a self-employed person. The term describes entrepreneurial behavior and is made up of the words „intra-corporate“ and „entrepreneur“.
What characteristics does an intrapreneur need?
The intrapreneur’s way of acting is characterized by a high sense of responsibility and initiative. He pursues the goals he has set himself consistently and with entrepreneurial foresight. You don’t necessarily have to be born to be an intrapreneur, but a high willingness to perform and certain character traits are conducive if you don’t want to fail. An intrapreneur should be creative, a team player, able to work under pressure, have a high frustration threshold and possess a minimum level of entrepreneurial talent. He usually works longer hours than his other colleagues, which brings with it the risk of self-exploitation.
Corporate Culture Intrapreneurship
The corporate culture of intrapreneurship originated in the USA and is also very widespread here. In Europe, it has significantly fewer followers. But the companies that support intrapreneurship stand behind the corporate culture and create the appropriate framework conditions for creative colleagues. They provide them with workshops and training so that they can do justice to their tasks. This also includes providing them with the necessary resources and creating good, even material, incentives for success. In most cases, it seems to work, because intrapreneurs are considered to be more satisfied employees than others. The advantages are obvious; after all, intrapreneurs have a lot of freedom to make decisions and receive recognition from their superiors. Knowing that others have a lot of confidence in you boosts your self-confidence considerably.
Difference between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur
Entrepreneur and intrapreneur have a lot in common: both are committed, solution-oriented, goal-oriented, can motivate themselves, pay attention to costs and take responsibility. A crucial difference, however, lies in the consequences that result from their actions. Intrapreneurs are held much less accountable for their actions than entrepreneurs. The most serious consequence they face is being fired by their boss. In contrast, an entrepreneur is a true businessman who must stand up for his own company with everything he does and says. No matter what decisions he makes, it always has a direct impact on his company and its success. Small mistakes quickly turn into big ones if nothing is done. Then it is usually too late to turn things around. An entrepreneur who has made a wrong decision must expect that the consequences will affect all areas of the company. In the worst case, the company is economically ruined.
How can an interested party become an intrapreneur? Intrapreneurship has enormous potential and is an almost inexhaustible source of progress for companies. More and more companies are recognizing this and are aligning themselves accordingly. For example, they offer programs for intrapreneurship, to which interested parties then apply. It is just as possible for an employee to develop his or her own business idea in his or her free time and then implement it in the company (support must be available).
Dangers of intrapreneurship
Intrapreneurs do move companies forward, but they have a great risk for exploitation and self-exploitation. This is because a CEO who recognizes the great innovative power of his intrapreneur will always want more of them. The intrapreneur, in turn, must learn to clearly distinguish himself despite his many freedoms. In addition, he has to deal with the risk of suddenly finding himself without any income at all. Many intrapreneurs are intoxicated by their opportunities, get extremely involved and no longer perceive their physical and mental limits. As a result, they experience burnout faster than they would like. On the other hand, they may display a structural egotism that does not go down well with their colleagues. Rejection leads to isolation, which exacerbates health problems.
Conclusion: What is an intrapreneur?
If the framework conditions such as equipment and support are right, intrapreneurship can be very attractive for people who like to work in a self-determined way. But only when the intrapreneur is satisfied does the „company within a company“ concept turn into a win-win situation for both sides.