Advantages And Disadvantages Of Intrapreneurship

We all know the stories of popular Entrepreneurs who took mind blowing levels of risk and turned their passions into incredible success. The names Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos stand out for us.

The costs and sacrifices needed to become an entrepreneur are not going to be for everybody, even if they have the skills, creativity and drive to be successful.

For these types of people, there is another option, less talked about in society and that is Intrapreneurship.

Intrapreneurship basically means working like an entrepreneur within an organization without taking on all of the risks involved with innovating.

The main advantage of taking an Intrapreneurial role is that the financial risk is eliminated and the main disadvantages include the risk of losing face or hurting your reputation if your idea goes wrong.

Read on to discover more about what is involved with Intrapreneurship, how you can become one and what the peaks and pitfalls are of being considered an intrapreneur.

What Exactly Is Intrapreneurship

An Intrapreneur is basically an Entrepreneur who works within a company rather than running their own company.

Intrapreneurship is quickly becoming a skill that is highly sought after as progressive companies adjust their policies and structures to promote and encourage intrapreneurship.

Take Google for example, where staff are afforded 20% of their time to work on their own projects or consider some of the world changing products that resulted from such policies like:

Key Characteristics Of Intrapreneurs:

  • Ambitious

  • Creative

  • Passionate

  • Innovative

  • Hard Working

  • Driven, Determined

  • Forward Thinking

  • Problem Solving

  • Confident

  • Leadership Traits

Examples Of Intrapreneurship

  • Google Gmail

  • Sony PlayStation

  • Java Programming Language

  • Facebook Like Button

  • Lockheed Martin Airplanes

  • Sticky Post It Notes

Companies That Promote Intrapreneurship

  • Google

  • Microsoft

  • Shutterstock

  • Intel

  • IBM

  • Facebook

  • Apple

  • Virgin

  • General Motors

How To Become An Intrapreneur 

An Intrapreneur may work on their own or be allocated a team and resources to carry out their work and in a changing world, Intrapreneur is a role respected by all business owners.

Becoming an Intrapreneur is going to depend on the company you are with. Some companies are rigid and don’t like the idea of intrapreneurship at all and some companies actively promote the role.

Whatever, company you are in, It basically involves sticking your hand up and letting your superiors know that you have ideas to change their company for the better.

If you want to become an intrapreneur and you are with a company that makes it impossible, it may be time to think about moving on.

Pros And Cons Of Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship comes with a lot of pros and cons just like any other role and here some of the top ones.

Pros

Decreases The Financial Risk On The Innovator:

When I started my first Digital Marketing business, I quickly went broke and struggled to make ends meat for months. Luckily I was young and didn’t have any responsibilities like a mortgage or kids.

For entrepreneurial spirits who can’t take these massive risks, Intrapreneurship will allow them to innovate while enjoying the security and stability of employment and the paycheck, instead of risking their own capital.

Make Use Of Company Resources & Talent

I remember saving all of my earnings from Microsoft for months before having enough capital to get started and it still wasn’t enough.

Intrapreneurs can utilize the companies financial resources to get the ball rolling on their innovations.

Besides the financial resources, there should also be a pool of talent, data and systems already within the company that you can use to advance your ideas.

Better Products, Services Or Support

From the companies point of view, this is the big advantage of Intrapreneurship. It leads to the company offering new or improved products or services.

It can also include anything that generates profit or improves the overall solution for the customer which should in turn lead to profit.

Companies that promote innovation understand the ability that their employees have and they encourage them to develop their ability by finding new innovations into what the company produces and how it operates.

Grow Your Reputation And Build Your Network

If successful as an Intrapreneur you are likely to grow a reputation as an important person within the company.

Your name will start to come up when people are talking about promotions or you may even get to manage an employee or even a whole team around the innovation you have created.

In some cases, the business can become a business within the business than the Intrapreneur now takes over and runs like his own budget with accounts and budgets created for the intrapreneurs business alone within the company.

Build A Better Career

There is no doubt that an Intrapreneur will have to develop their leadership skills and these are the kind of skills that management will look for when filling senior positions.

Employees that become intrapreneurs and are successful will have the ability to move into senior positions withing the company eventually.

A successful intrapreneur will usually come to the attention of the people in more senior positions more quickly, they just need to make sure they deliver the results.

The Best Of Both Worlds – Stepping Stone To Entrepreneurship

A lot of the advantages of entrepreneurship without the biggest downside, the financial risk.

Becoming an intrapreneur can also build the experience and skills necessary for the Intrapreneur to go on and become a entrepreneur.

Can Switch Off In The Evenings

One thing that is certain about Entrepreneurship is that it take over your entire life. It is like raising a child to grow a business from the ground up and fraught with risk.

The result is that you end up thinking and stressing about your business 24/7 and you are not able to switch off in the evenings like you can as an employee.

Intrapreneurship allows you to use all of your gifts and still forget about it after work and focus on enjoying the rest of your life without the constant worries.

Only Do The Parts You Are Good At

When I set up my Digital Marketing agency, I thought I would be making website and running ad campaigns for the entire day, I quickly realized that I had just become a sales man and needed to find clients immediately.

With Intrapreneurship, you only have to worry about the creative side that you are good at and not sales, company structures, hiring etc.

When the time comes to start selling, you might have a whole marketing team behind you, ready to get your innovation in the hands of a huge database of existing customers.

Cons Of Intrapreneurship

You Still Have A Boss

The number 1 reason most people become entrepreneurs is because they don’t want to have a boss, even more than making tons of money and living in a paradise island.

While starting your own business will make your customers your only superior, becoming an intrapreneur means you still have superiors who can divert you to different projects, stifle your innovation, disagree with your ideas or change them, grant or refuse funding and resources, allocate the wrong personnel and simply getting in the way of your innovation in a negative way.

More Risk Of Failure Than Employee

Becoming an Intrapreneur within an organization is going to shine a spotlight directly on your activities.

Maybe you broke from your traditional role to take on a side project for the company.

The management are now watching carefully to see how you perform and your fellow employees are going to wondering about what you are doing as well.

The pressure for you to perform is on and if you succeed the rewards can be great but if the project fails, it may have consequences for you like loss of reputation, becoming out of favour with superiors or even losing your job in extreme circumstances.

Returns Are Less Than For Entrepreneurs

If you reach success as an entrepreneur, the rewards are going to be amazing but if you reach success as an Intrapreneur the financial return is going to benefit the company.

While you may improve your career greatly with Intrapreneurship and earn more money indirectly, the money you generate through intrapreneurship is going to flow mainly to the company.

They took the financial risk in the project with resources and by paying the Intrapreneurs wages so it makes sense the revenue would flow to the company.

The Glory Is Shared

Just because the intrapreneur comes up with the idea and gets the ball rolling, doesn’t mean that someone else will be better suited to taking the opportunity and running with it.

The chances of an Intrapreneur ultimately getting all of the glory is a lot less than if they were an Entrepreneur.

Potential For Conflict

Having a passion for your work is a key characteristic of intrapreneurship and with this comes a strong desire for your project to succeed but also an increased likelihood of potential conflict.

While an intrapreneur may develop a successful project, it might not align with the goals of the company.

If the intrapreneur sees the project needs to pivot, it may be met with skepticism and disagreement by management or superiors.

If the project needs additional resources or finance and it is not made available are all potential pitfalls that the intrapreneur may not be able to get around and this can cause conflict or division within the company.

Final Words On Intrapreneurship

If you have the yearning to become an entrepreneur, you are likely to be driven by your urges to run your own company but taking on an intrapreneurial role can be a be a great way to gain some valuable experience into the process.

There is nothing wrong but working to learn as recommended in Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

For others, the financial risks of entrepreneurship are enough to ensure that being an employee is a better fit for them and there is nothing wrong with that.

Intrapreneurship can be like an ‘Entrepreneurship Lite’ for them to innovate and grow their companies. They can rise through the ranks, earn a ton of money and negate the risks of running their own companies.

For them Intrapreneurship is the path for them to have the life they want and an excellent opportunity within an organization to obtain it.