Not long ago the term ‘intrapreneur’ didn’t even exist. Now it’s a buzzword in the boardrooms of some of the world’s biggest and most successful companies. And for good reason.
Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs working on the inside. Thanks to their problem-solving nature, risk-taking attitude and desire to push boundaries, they are the people that can help a company to grow and prosper in a competitive marketplace.
But why are more employees becoming intrapreneurs?
It’s, in part, related to another buzzword - 'millennials'. This next generation of workers encapsulate the intrapreneurial spirit. They want more than a traditional job role can offer. They are burning with ideas and they want to make a real impact with their careers.
"Obviously there have always been go-getters in companies who try to move the needle forward and push the status quo. But never before has there been such a push for employees to take ownership of their own corner of a company," writes Alyson Kreuger.
"The rise of the intrapreneur is driven in part by a restless, younger workforce eager to make a real impact with their careers. While many are turning to start-ups to do so, others realise they might be better off driving change from their current home, where the funding and infrastructure are already there."
Intrapreneurs are innovators
In order to continue to grow and thrive, businesses need new streams of revenue. To achieve this, they need innovation.
Vice President of Innovation at Fusion92, Jacob Beckley, believes it is "companies that take the largest risk, close the biggest gaps and identify the newest opportunities are rewarded with the title of true innovators. These true innovators are setting themselves apart from any and all competition."
And there’s no employee more innovative than the intrapreneur.
Increased investment in intrapreneurship
Perhaps that explains why some of the world’s biggest companies are investing in intrapreneurship schemes.
For instance, Deloitte has created a £25 million pound fund to encourage intrapreneurs within its workforce. The money is available to support employees that have innovative business ideas. It will give them the capital to get started, as well as access to various support from within the firm, such as legal, risk, technology, brand and marketing experts.
The intrapreneurs will be able to effectively create their own start-ups, with the safety net of the wider organisation to fall back on. It’s a risky strategy, but one their Managing Partner for Innovation, Simon Owen, says they are willing to embrace.
"We have some of the most entrepreneurial minds in the country right here in our organisation and we want to give them the opportunity to develop in unique ways.
"We’ve got to be realistic. When it doesn’t work, we will shut it down in an orderly fashion. The employees will remain part of Deloitte and they will return to the mothership. There is no financial risk for them."
Less financial risk
It’s this lack of personal financial risk that also goes a long way to explaining the rise of the intrapreneur. Millennials fresh out of college rarely have a lump sum of cash to invest in their business ideas, but by seeking a role with a forward-thinking company that embraces intrapreneurship they can achieve the best of both worlds.
What’s clear is that while 'intrapreneur' might be a new term, it’s one that certainly isn’t going away. A new generation of workers are demanding a new way of working – and businesses that want to retain top talent need to embrace intrapreneurship as part of the process of growth.