“Many millions of people proudly claim the title ‘entrepreneur.’ On the other hand, a title that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of attention it deserves is entrepreneur’s little brother, ‘intrapreneur:’ an employee who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems… While it’s true that every company needs an entrepreneur to get it under way, healthy growth requires a smattering of intrapreneurs who drive new projects and explore new and unexpected directions for business development.” Sir Richard Branson.
If you’d like to be an intrapreneur or encourage intrapreneurship in your business, then here are some top tips to get you started:
1. Be in the know
An innovative idea doesn’t always hit you on the head, like Newton’s apple supposedly did! By keeping yourself in the know and up to date with current market trends, issues and ideas, this will help you to identify different areas of need and therefore areas of potential opportunity.
2. A big little idea!
People often think that Intrapreneurship is about making the next ground-breaking discovery or invention. This isn’t necessarily so. Simple, small ideas are equally significant and importantly, will still give you valuable experience in the Innovation process that will be incredibly useful further down the line when a bigger idea might be conceived.
3. Mistakes happen
We learn from our mistakes; that has and always will be a natural and integral part of human experience. It’s challenging, but rather than worrying about what could go wrong, why not just dip a toe in, test the water and see what happens because you might be pleasantly surprised? If not, you can adapt your initial plan or idea and will be better off for it anyway!
4. Allow your idea to take shape
Likewise, the concept of your initial idea is bound to change course as it develops. Don’t be afraid of or resistant to this. With the right research and guidance, it will begin to take its own form naturally. It’s your role to nurture and facilitate this process, allowing the initial concept to take shape as you go.
5. Be Resourceful
As part of an already established organisation, you have a number of resources readily available to you, so make the most of these opportunities. It’s understandable that you may fear sharing your idea in case it gets stolen or dismissed before it’s even got legs, however, we can learn a lot from constructive criticism. It’s very important to know how to take this in your stride and then grow from it. Similarly, an outside point of view may pick up on something you hadn’t necessarily thought of, and ultimately, if sharing your idea results in a better outcome then that’s a good thing.
6. The all-important buy-in
In order to get your idea off the ground you need to achieve buy-in from the powers that be. This is a challenge that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Often it’s better to build up Company buy-in slowly. In the same way that you seek out opportunities to share and collaborate on your idea, you should also be garnering interest and demand in your idea from the very beginning. Drip feeding information about your project such as the gap in the market you’ve spotted, or the new technology you’re investigating, to those with the power to make it happen can help you both gauge their response and ensure buy-in later on.
Those Company leaders who are going to finance your idea will want facts, figures and proof that this solution is going to benefit the business and/or customer, so make sure you’ve got the foundations right and an effective strategy for presenting your idea and getting this important message across.
So, intrapreneurship needs a strategic approach, a lot of research, a little bit of collaboration and resourcefulness, a dash of resilience, a dollop of creativity and a huge amount of determination.
It sounds a lot like Innovation, all wrapped up in an individual.