Why Should Startups Embrace Intrapreneurship?


April 29, 2020

Why Should Startups Embrace Intrapreneurship?

Did you know that the success rate for startup entrepreneurship is only 20%?

Despite wild entrepreneurial success stories from the Zuckerberg’s and Musk’s of this world, research suggests startups are four times more likely to succeed if they embrace intrapreneurship.

So, what is intrapreneurship, and how can your business adapt their approach to internal innovation to edge above the competition?

Join us as we explore the different types of intrapreneurship and offer top tips to build powerful teams of innovators.

What Is Intrapreneurship?

Intrapreneurship is all about fostering a culture of creativity and innovation across internal teams in your organisation.

Instead of adopting a hierarchical structure where a few senior individuals call the shots, intrapreneurship encourages employees to embrace decision-making and innovation at all levels.

An intrapreneur is an employee who is responsible for developing internal ideas and working on cutting-edge projects. Embracing internal innovation allows your business to grow, develop new technologies and adapt to changing market demands.

What Is the Difference Between Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship?

Although the core characteristics of an entrepreneur and intrapreneur are relatively similar, the responsibilities of each differ dramatically.

Typically, an entrepreneur seeks to increase their personal wealth, while an intrapreneur is paid to help their organisation grow from strength to strength.

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences and how embracing intrapreneurship can help your business:

  • Shift its perception of risk
  • Set internal goals to promote innovation
  • Build creative teams who strive for change

Shifting Perceptions of Risk

With one in five entrepreneurs failing in their first year of launching, taking the reigns as a standalone entrepreneur is risky business.

Entrepreneurs are all about diving into the unknown. Whether it’s bringing a new invention to market or creating a lean business model to undercut competitors, entrepreneurs usually opt for a high-risk high-reward approach.

When an individual is held accountable for their own decisions, they’re more likely to welcome risk and gamble on their intuition. If a risky decision backfires, it’s on their head.

However, for intrapreneurs in established organisations, personal risk takes on a whole new meaning.

While intrapreneurs are still held accountable for their decisions and face losing their job if they cross a line, the repercussions of their actions are limited to the specific task or project they’re working on.

To avoid employees playing things safe, some startups are introducing compensation models to mimic equity ownership. Equity ownership can encourage employees to take ownership of their work as they have a vested interested in their organisation growing.

Embracing Failure

Organisations have the flexibility and resources to ‘take the hit’ if a gamble doesn’t pay off and view failure a positive lesson for the future.

For example, when Google pulled the plug on Google Glass in 2015, the internet giant didn’t point the finger at underperforming employees or internal mistakes. Instead, they used Google Glass as a stepping stone to drive the development of future innovations including Google Lens and advance cameras in the Google Pixel phones.

Instead, they used Google Glass as a stepping stone to drive the development of future innovations, including Google Lens and advance camera hardware in the Google Pixel phones. The best employers will give intrapreneurs a wide berth and offer them the tools they need to push boundaries and experiment off-the-wall ideas.

In the words of French Author, Andre Gid: “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Setting Internal Goals to Promote Innovation

While many entrepreneurs are fueled by their internal drive to succeed, intrapreneurs take a very different approach to setting goals and reaching targets.

As employees within an organisation, intrapreneurs are still required to meet internal targets set by senior management. Whether it’s meeting a deadline or delivering on key performance indicators (KPIs), intrapreneurs must strike a balance between creative experimentation and results-driven actions.

Intrapreneurs can help organisations embrace innovation in a disciplined and regulated fashion. You can assign employees to solve specific problems and set clear boundaries to avoid spiralling costs or wasting energy in the wrong places.

Look Beyond KPIs

As the old saying goes: “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Although metrics are a powerful way to manage large teams and track progress, intrapreneurship tends to blossom when employees have the freedom to venture off-piste.

Ask yourself whether certain KPIs are getting in the way of creativity and preventing employees from exploring exciting avenues. While goal-setting is important to keep intrapreneurs on track and ‘within the lines’, loosening the reigns can promote lateral thinking.

Build Creative Teams

One of the key benefits of embracing intrapreneurship is the opportunity to foster a culture of creativity across entire teams.

While entrepreneurship is mostly driven by a few maverick individuals who build bigger teams to deliver their vision, intrapreneurship is all about encouraging innovation from the inside-out.

If you want to squeeze the most out of your people, intrapreneurship can boost morale and employee satisfaction. Instead of spoon-feeding individuals to jump through hoops and tick boxes, intrapreneurship can bring people together.

A culture of creativity encourages employees to work in harmony as they find innovative solutions to the problems that matter to them.

Embrace Change

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, innovation is the key to staying ahead of your rivals and keeping customers happy.

Don’t let your business stand still. Embracing intrapreneurship and a culture of creativity can produce exciting innovations and cutting-edge technologies to help you edge above the competition.

Changing the way your organisation thinks about risk, goal-setting and teams could be the shift you need to rediscover your spark.

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