Today we are going to be talking about entrepreneurs versus intrapreneurs, and no, I did not make that word up.
It has actually been around for about 30 years in the business world, and while you might not have heard the word “intrapreneur,” you’ve most likely seen it in action. Basically, the definition of intrapreneur is as follows:
Intrapreneur: in-tra-pre-neur noun, A person within a company who uses his entrepreneurial spirit and skills to make changes to the company with little financial and company risk to himself.
Intrapreneurs are the people that management teams assign to brainstorm and carry out new ideas and projects with the expectation of better company engagement and performance in the near and distant future. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, use all of their time and energy to create a powerful workplace environment within their own company using their own resources.
While the two jobs are different, the types of people who are entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs share many traits. For instance, both people are intuitive and driven. They are both highly adaptable and can change their original plans to accommodate whatever life throws at them. They have a vision of where they want the company to go and enough experience and know-how to make things happen. They also exhibit superior leadership skills and can motivate those they work with to make the changes necessary to better the company.
Should You Be an Intrapreneur or Entrepreneur?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to that question, but whichever you choose could hold some significant consequences for you in the future. The best thing you can do is weigh out each job’s pros and cons and decide which fits your personality.
Entrepreneurial Pros and Cons
Being your own boss has a lot of pros associated with it. The greatest advantage is probably the flexibility that comes with setting your own hours and location. You also have full freedom to make your own choices, choose your staff, and mold your company culture. Even more significant, perhaps, than the flexibility is the fact that if you run a successful entrepreneurial venture, you have the most to gain. As an entrepreneur, you own your ideas and don’t have to give credit to anyone else. In the end, the buck stops with you, which can be both liberating and confining.
The major downside of being an entrepreneur are the bad days; that you are accountable for all of your inevitable mistakes, and that includes monetary ones. As the boss, you are providing all of the upfront capital and other resources to start the company and keep it running. You also have to make the hard budgeting and human resource decisions that come with growing something from the ground up. You are fully accountable for any and all risks that you take.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Do I really want to be my own boss and put in the time to make my business succeed?
- Am I willing to risk my own resources to start a company?
- How important is a consistent paycheck to me as I try out my new ideas?
- Do I have the management skills to hire and train new employees?
Intrapreneurial Pros and Cons
The biggest benefit to being an intrapreneur is that you don’t assume any of the risks that come with trying new ideas because the company absorbs the mistakes. You also have steady employment while you try out your new ideas, and you have the authority to make restorative changes within a current business structure. These pros all give you valuable experience as you work to improve a company.
The most significant downside to being an intrapreneur is that you don’t have complete control over the situation. You have been appointed by upper management to correct mistakes and improve a working environment, but you are at their mercy as to what you can and can’t do. If your upper management doesn’t buy into your viewpoints, you can lose face and the power to enact new ideas in front of the other employees that you are meant to manage. You are also up against all of the previous company culture and beliefs, which can make your job difficult because people tend to resist organizational change.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Do I have the emotional strength to help change-averse employees embrace new ideas?
- Does a consistent paycheck mean more to me than being my own boss?
- Do I have the support from my superiors to successfully make the required changes?
- Do I have realistic expectations as to what I will actually be able to accomplish?
- Do I have access to the resources within the company that I need to be successful?
Both of these prospects present exciting innovative opportunities. Some people can thrive in both roles while others are clearly equipped to perform one over another. Knowing yourself is a big part of deciding which is best for you. Experience helps, too. As you dabble in both arenas, you can gain valuable experience and get a feel for where your abilities lie.