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How Intrapreneurship Can Skyrocket Your Career
Although the word ‘intrapreneur’ has been around since the 1970s, it has only recently become an increasingly common label for what is otherwise known as internal business innovation.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what intrapreneurship means, how it differs from the better-known term ‘entrepreneurship’, and why it’s something you’ll want to learn everything you can about.
We’ll also take a look at 7 easy-to-apply examples of how intrapreneurship can propel your career to new heights, offering ideas about how you can identify and seize opportunities in your current job or organization.
So let’s start with the obvious question: what exactly is intrapreneurship?
The dictionary definition would go something like this: “Intrapreneurship can be described as the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. It involves taking initiative, being creative, and driving innovation to solve problems and enhance processes. Intrapreneurs are individuals who exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit, bringing fresh ideas and a proactive approach to their roles.”
Or, in layman’s terms, someone who acts like an entrepreneur, but on behalf of their employer, rather than working externally for themselves.
While entrepreneurship involves creating and managing a new business, intrapreneurship happens within the established framework of an existing organization.
Intrapreneurs leverage the resources, support, and infrastructure of their workplace to innovate and create value. Entrepreneurs must source these elements themselves, often from scratch.
The rise of intrapreneurship
Intrapreneurship is on the rise for several reasons. Organizations are hyper aware of the need to foster a culture of innovation to stay competitive. Intrapreneurs proactively inject vitality into corporate environments, driving growth and helping companies adapt to rapidly changing markets.
For people seeking internal career progression opportunities (and for companies just as eager about employee retention), intrapreneurship is increasingly enabling ways for innovators to contribute meaningfully, making intrapreneurship an attractive avenue for personal and professional development.
“OK, got it”, we hear you say. “So… how can I be more intrapreneurial and skyrocket my career, like the article title says?”
Read on to discover how!
7 ways to stand out via intrapreneurship
Intrapreneurship is not just about big projects. It’s also about showcasing deft mastery of critical business skills that highlight your ability to independently identify and address key issues within the organization.
Stop and think for a moment about current or former colleagues. Almost certainly, at least one person will spring to mind who was always going the extra mile to identify problems and implement solutions. They were likely highly valued by leadership, who did everything they could to retain them. That person is a great example of an intrapreneur.
Below, we share 7 straightforward, easily applicable examples of intrapreneurship that you can apply to your own role and company.
#1 Problem-Solving Mastery
Intrapreneurs are adept at identifying and solving complex problems. By cultivating this skill, you position yourself as an invaluable asset to your organization, attracting career-boosting assignments and projects.
Imagine you work in a marketing team and notice a significant drop in customer engagement. Instead of waiting for instruction, you proactively conduct a thorough analysis, identify bottlenecks, and propose a targeted customer engagement campaign. By taking the initiative, you not only address the problem but also showcase your problem-solving skills.
#2 Cross-unctional Collaboration
Intrapreneurship often requires collaboration across departments. By actively engaging with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, you expand your network, gain insights into different facets of the business, and enhance your overall skill set.
In a technology company, you, a Project Manager, identify a gap in communication between the development and marketing teams, which you believe has been impacting product launches. You initiate regular cross-functional meetings, fostering collaboration and ensuring everyone is on the same page. This proactive approach not only improves communication, but also highlights your ability to facilitate partnerships across departments.
#3 Innovative Thinking
Intrapreneurs are natural innovators, unafraid to challenge the status quo. Developing a mindset that embraces innovation will set you apart, making you a go-to person for driving positive change within your organization.
Once upon a time, a finance professional noticed inefficiencies in the budgeting process. Instead of adhering strictly to the established procedures, they proposed a digital budgeting tool to streamline the process, reduce errors, and provide real-time insights. This innovative approach not only improved efficiency, but also positioned the professional as a forward-thinking contributor (and the obvious choice for that next promotion).
#4 Adaptability and Risk Management
Successful intrapreneurs embody both adaptability and the ability to manage risks effectively. These skills are not only crucial for intrapreneurial endeavors, but are also highly sought after in any professional setting.
Imagine that you, an HR specialist working in a rapidly evolving industry, recognize the need for upskilling the workforce. Instead of fearing resistance to change, you create a pilot program for skills development, showcasing the benefits through tangible results. This adaptability and calculated risk-taking not only future-proofs your workforce, but also impresses leadership.
#5 Leadership Development
Intrapreneurs often find themselves leading projects and initiatives. Seizing such opportunities enhances your leadership skills, positioning you for future managerial roles within the organization.
Picture a mid-level manager who identifies a project critical to the company’s growth. Despite not having a leadership role, they take the initiative to lead the project, rallying team members, and guiding them to success. This hands-on leadership experience not only contributes to project success, but also positions them for a forthcoming leadership role.
#6 Resource Optimization
Intrapreneurs excel at making the most of available resources. Learning to achieve optimal results with limited resources showcases your efficiency and resourcefulness, qualities highly valued in any professional environment.
In a manufacturing setting, an Operations Manager observes excess material wastage. Instead of accepting it as the norm, they implement a waste reduction program, optimizing resources and improving the bottom line. This not only contributes to significant cost savings, but also showcases their clear ability to maximize efficiency.
#7 Value Creation
Intrapreneurial initiatives contribute to value creation for the organization. By actively participating in such projects, you demonstrate your commitment to the company’s success, making you an indispensable member of the team.
A Customer Support Representative identifies a recurring customer issue and proposes a comprehensive self-help knowledge base. By creating this resource, they not only resolve the issue at its root, but also enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty while slashing support tickets. This not only improves customer retention, but also positions the representative as a strategic contributor.
In each of these examples, someone took the initiative, identified opportunities for improvement, and implemented solutions within their respective roles. These demonstrate how intrapreneurial qualities can be easily applied in a wide array of scenarios, showcasing the transformative potential of intrapreneurship in a professional setting.
Pursuing intrapreneurship in your current workplace
Now that we’ve explored the myriad benefits, how can you pursue intrapreneurship in your current role?
- First, start by identifying areas for improvement within your organization
- Then, shortlist those you can directly influence through your position
- Be proactive in suggesting and implementing thoughtful, innovative solutions to leadership
- Seek out cross-functional collaborations, while placing yourself in a coordinating role
- By showcasing these qualities, you’ll naturally gravitate towards intrapreneurial opportunities, demonstrate adaptability, and position yourself as a problem solver
As we’ve seen, intrapreneurship is not just a buzzword; it’s a powerful catalyst for professional growth.
By not only embracing the principles of intrapreneurship, but proactively seeking out opportunities to make meaningful contributions, you can elevate your career to unprecedented heights.
The ability to innovate, collaborate, and drive positive change within your organization positions you as a standout professional, opening doors to new opportunities and career advancements.
- Embrace intrapreneurship as the art of acting like an entrepreneur within your existing organization. It’s about driving innovation, taking initiative, and steering positive change from within
- The key difference between intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship lies in the organizational context: intrapreneurs innovate within established structures, leveraging existing resources to fuel change
- There’s a growing significance of intrapreneurship in today’s business landscape. Organizations are increasingly adopting this approach to stay competitive, foster innovation, retain great employees, and adapt to evolving markets
- Discover 7 concrete ways that intrapreneurship can elevate your career, including through problem-solving mastery, cross-functional collaboration, innovative thinking, adaptability, leadership development, resource optimization, and value creation
- Recognize that embracing intrapreneurship isn’t just a trend—it’s a powerful driver of career growth. By cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset within your organization, you open doors to new opportunities, advancements, and a trajectory of professional success
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