The Hidden Value of Intrapreneurs

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Written by Allison Smith, Thrive

We’ve all heard of the risk taking entrepreneurs that have left their jobs or dropped out of University to pursue their business dreams. We know entrepreneurs are driven, dreamers and thrive on innovation and change. However, less talked about, are the intrapreneurs who possess those same qualities but use them within a large organization. Rarely hidden, they like to do things a bit differently than the norm.

In the Harvard Business Review article “Recognize Intrapreneurs Before They Leave“, intrapreneurs are described as individuals that can transform an organization more quickly and effectively than others because they are self‐motivated free thinkers, masters at navigating around bureaucratic and political inertia. Because of that, they are valuable to an organization. Intrapreneurs are rare, that’s why it’s important to identify, support and hold on to them within an organization before they transition to entrepreneurs. In an organization of, say, 5,000 employees, there may only be 25 or so intrapreneurs (HBR, 2013). Though you shouldn’t have a problem finding them. They’re the misfits, the innovators, and can stick out like a sore thumb.

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As outlined in the Forbes Article ” 4 traits of an intrapreneur“,  intrapreneurs are not afraid to fail. They will try new ideas and solutions to tackle a problem. They are also  willing to pivot ideas and adapt to such changes very well.

Once the intrapreneurs are identified, it’s key to treat them like entrepreneurs – as an inside entrepreneur. Provide them with the resources and capabilities of the firm to help their careers flourish. Companies should try to create an environment where these employees are free to explore ideas without fear of failure. That way, the company can help ensure meaningful employment and hold on to the employee for mutual benefit.

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As a career choice, intrapreneurship is very rewarding. There is the opportunity to have the impact, resources and market of an already established company to implement real ideas, and real change. It allows individuals to have meaningful, challenging work without taking the entire risk solo as an entrepreneur. From both a career choice and hiring perspective, intrapreneurs have a lot of hidden value that can be nurtured for mutual, meaningful benefit.

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