Most people are familiar with the term ‘entrepreneur’, but the term ‘intrapreneur‘ is typically less familiar. An intrapreneur is an employee of a business who may be given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc. They act like an entrepreneur within a larger organization. The term comes from ‘intra’, meaning internal, and ‘entrepreneur’. Contrary to entrepreneurs who take an idea and build a business, intrapreneurs use new and existing ideas to transform businesses that have already been established.
Intrapreneurs tend to be highly self-motivated risk-takers, who are comfortable with taking the lead. Their proactive, action-oriented personality allows them to pursue innovative products and services. Intrapreneurs think outside of the box and are resourceful, typically creating new ideas or products from already existing components.
Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs share many of the same personality traits; however, there are a few minor differences. The biggest difference is the personal risk factor. Intrapreneurs do not have to search for initial investors, or invest personal funds into the development of their idea. Instead, intrapreneurs develop ideas that they believe will provide value to the company. From there, the company decides whether or not to foster the proposed idea.
Many companies have seen success from promoting intrapreneurship. For example, Google encourages their employees to take ‘20% time’ to work on anything they think is innovative and cool. 20% time is a philosophy that allows Google’s engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that may or may not be related to their typical job tasks. Gmail has been the most notable product to come from this 20% time.
Another notable product that came from an intrapreneur was the Post-It note. One of 3M’s scientists was working on developing a strong adhesive for an aerospace technology project. Instead, he created a weaker adhesive that did not leave a residue behind when removed. The company took what was initially a mistake, and turned it into something useful today.
Through these examples, it is easy to see how intrapreneurship can be beneficial to a company. Innovation is key to company growth, and employees can help spark new ideas if given the opportunity to do so. Metisentry recently nurtured an idea sparked by an intrapreneur at an established agricultural enterprise. With services promoting efficiency and integration, Metisentry helps to foster this idea of intrapreneurship.