Earlier this week, I met with another business owner who simultaneously works at a large corporation. He mentioned the term: intrapreneurship. With my interest piqued, I inquired on its meaning. “An individual who works at a large company, but has an entrepreneurial mind,” he said. My initial thought was: How cool is that! As I further contemplated on the concept, I began to consider an opposing thought. Couldn’t this be perceived as a backlash to entrepreneurship? According to Forbes, “…the reality remains that for every successful entrepreneur who builds even a modestly successful business, there are thousands who struggle and toil endlessly and may never see the fruits of their labor come anywhere close to commercial success.” Most entrepreneurs struggle with achieving economic success in a monetary system that doesn’t seemingly reward their efforts. On top of this sordid reality, here come the intrapreneurs, a perfect blend of entrepreneurship and comfy corporate support. Whether entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are allies or foes, this new concept requires further speculation.
During my time working in corporatism, I didn’t feel as though I could utilize my entrepreneurial skills and talents. Rather, I was more encouraged to adhere to a corporate environment comprised of sheep-like individuals. At times, I even felt as though I was under the dominion of quasi-parental units. In saying this, not all corporate environments are the same. Technology corporations with an economic advantage like Yahoo!, Google, or Microsoft express a cultural value for entrepreneurship. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Even large companies like Google have their stipulations when it comes to investing in an independent business as it clearly takes time from your contributions to the company. Google is also the company that rewards innovation and fresh thinking, in essence driving intraprenuership. This is the reason why the CEO of Yahoo! had to put her foot down on ‘work from home’ arrangements. She found an increase of entrepreneurial efforts which takes time away from the efforts of being an employee at the company. In this case, intrapreneurship can be achieved in the work environment, while entreprenuership took hold as the gap between employee and employer increased.
Entrepreneurs experience a difficult time finding the economic and social support required in launching a successful commercial business, whilst intrapreneurs gain accessibility to these support systems through their steady salary and employee relations. Genuine entrepreneurship rarely exists within companies, rather what is encouraged at some companies is intrapreneurship as it complements the internalized efforts of the company. Entrepreneurship is a separate entity that continues to strive within an economic system that upholds corporate values, sometimes making the goals of the entrepreneur seem futile.
Do you consider yourself an intrapreneur? What are the differences you have found between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship?
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