Intrapreneurs are the people happily working for your company, but with the mind-set of an entrepreneur. They can give your business purpose. They can come up with amazing ideas for exciting new products and services. They can drive your company forward, helping you achieve long-term success.
But before this can happen, it’s up to the leaders in your business to spot the intrapreneurs within your workforce and give them the tools and encouragement they need to triumph.
Here are the three qualities that all great intrapreneurs have in common.
1.They are risk-takers
Being willing to take a risk – and not being afraid to fail if it doesn’t pay off – is an essential part of the mind-set of a successful entrepreneur. It’s this part of the entrepreneurial spirit which is also shared by intrapreneurs. However, rather thinking with their own profits in mind, they think about the benefits for the business they work for.
According to CEO Chirag Kulkarni, who founded entrepreneurial strategy consulting firm C&M Group and social analytics firm Insightfully, it’s important for business leaders to look out for those members of staff who aren’t afraid of failure.
He told us: "Intrapreneurs make a business more successful by thinking like entrepreneurs, but within a company. They are willing to fail repeatedly, but they have the tenacity to succeed eventually.
"For many intrapreneurs, it’s about being able to enjoy the stability of a regular pay check from an established company, but also having the autonomy to take risks and pursue their own ideas."
2. They aren’t motivated by money
One thing that separates intrapreneurs from entrapreneurs is that those who go it alone to launch their own start-up are typically motivated, at least in part, by a desire to make money from their idea. Intrapreneurs on the other hand are more focussed on having the opportunity to feel fulfilled by their career.
As Chirag puts it: "Intrapreneurs are innovators. Rather than being passionate about wealth, they are passionate about growth – both personal and professional. I’ve worked with a many intrapreneurs and, in each case, they are the ‘can do’ type.
"It’s not money that excites them – what they love it to be the creators of products and services."
3. They are bursting with confidence
Intrapreneurs are rule breakers. They have the confidence to follow a different path. They may never establish their own company but they have the skills and entrepreneurial spirit to take yours to the next level.
Chirag told us: "It’s important to let intrapreneurs do what they want, when they want. Intrapreneurs have the confidence to look critically at a business and spot where improvements need to be made. They thrive if they are given the freedom to lead internal teams of their own, which function like their own start-ups.
"This works well for companies because although large companies are process driven, having smaller teams allows for newer initiatives to run successfully, without getting caught up in the corporate hierarchy."
Looking out for these traits should help you successfully spot the intrapreneurs you already employ, or those you’d like to employ in order to grow your business. But recognising intrapreneurs is just the first step. It’s vital that you also give them the creative freedom and autonomy to explore their ideas, even if they fail.
It’s risky, but as one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, Mark Zuckerburg puts it, "The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks".
If your intrapreneurs are willing to take risks, then you must be too.