Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - The Value of Intrapreneurs: Seven Ways You Can Show Your Entrepreneurial Drive at Work

The Value of Intrapreneurs: Seven Ways You Can Show Your Entrepreneurial Drive at Work

The word "entrepreneur" feels like the buzzword of the 2010s and 2020s. From Instagram posts to shows like Shark Tank, the profession of starting and running a business has been glamorized. Nevertheless, we don't hear as much about the internal form: intrapreneurship. According to Investopedia, an intrapreneur is an employee who is tasked with developing a new idea or a product within a company. Much like entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship is about innovation and creating something that audiences will want. However, intrapreneurs are working within a more extensive already-created system where someone else is the leader.

Intrapreneurs are important to company growth—especially for project managers. So, how can you show your entrepreneurial drive within your organization? Take a look at the tactics below.

Create Relationships

Business is relational because humans are. It's easier to discuss and receive feedback on ideas from people whom you know and have built trust with. Entrepreneurs are advised to network with potential investors and make connections with other peers in their industries. The same should also be said for intrapreneurs. Developing new ideas and getting them listened to can rest on building coalitions within your company and department.

For example, suppose you want to establish a new tailored marketing strategy. In that case, a relationship with the accounting department can give you insight into the cost and help you contribute to the company's bottom line while keeping all other major players in mind. Ultimately, the more relationships you build, the easier it will be to get others on board.

Take Note of Problems and Encourage Openness to Change

One of the best ways to move into an intrapreneurial role is to be alert to your company's problems and build solutions. However, this action also requires change, which can be challenging for some staff and leadership to accept. According to Mckinsey, 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, it's not easy for companies to change. There is a comfort in the status quo—even if it isn't the most productive, so as an intrapreneur, you will have the duty of moving your teams toward innovation. An effective way to do this is to identify problems that need to be fixed. Starting with common issues will allow you to have an easier time of encouraging the acceptance of new ideas and methods. Showing that you intend to help make life easier for everyone is crucial. It ensures that the work you do adds value, which is vital.

Understand Why the Company Culture Is The Way It Is

It isn't easy to try to encourage your company to go in a different direction. Often, company culture that promotes a "this is the way we have always done things" attitude can derail innovation. Nevertheless, it helps to have an understanding of why the company does what it does. If you meet opposition, don't shy away from confirming why.

Are there policies that were put into place that may no longer be applicable? Are there ways that you and leadership can come to a compromise and address new situations? You can learn a lot from your managers and senior leadership about company history, policies, and culture. This information can give you valuable insight into how everyone thinks and how you can package your ideas for acceptance.

Be a Thought Leader

You want to establish yourself as the go-to person for ideas, innovative thoughts, and creative insights. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways. For example, you could be the person who always speaks up in meetings with new ideas or be the individual who takes on tasks to help colleagues discover a new way of doing things. Your goal is to show your value and display how you are using your knowledge and creativity to move the company forward.

A great way to do this while also enhancing your company's brand is to see what they are doing online. There may be opportunities to represent your company on social media and offer insights into your industry and organization. You want to let it be known that you are an expert in your sector and that you have done the research—and the work—to show that your advice and guidance can be trusted.

Don't Be Afraid to Fail

Every idea isn't going to work, and that's okay. Much like entrepreneurship, you have to be comfortable with experimentation and failure. It's all about perspective. Each idea that doesn't work gets you closer to the next idea that will. It's vital that your company also understands this.

Companies like Google, Apple, and Patagonia encourage innovation and experimentation. Many of those company's most celebrated products and services came from allowing employees to brainstorm with colleagues and try out ideas. The more your company accepts that failure is a part of growth, the easier it will be for them to accept the introduction of new ideas and processes.

Enlist the Help of Others

Again, collaboration is where you can truly harness the power of intrapreneurship. According to Clear Company, 86 percent of employees and executives cite a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Collaboration is key to getting your new ideas implemented. First, you have the opportunity to bounce your ideas off of other people and receive feedback so you can sharpen your approach.

Second, you may find that a colleague has an idea that complements your strategy or proposed plan. The more people you brainstorm and work with, the more opportunity you have to hear a diversity of views. So, don't feel like intrapreneurship has to be a solo event, be open to hearing from others, and inviting them to join in when developing new and innovative ideas for the company.

Keep Your Company's Goals in Mind

Even though an idea may seem excellent, it might not always give you the results your company is seeking. It's important that you keep your boss's goals and the company as a whole in mind. You need to ask yourself how your idea will bring your company to the benchmarks they have set.

For example, if you are a project manager, how will your strategies help you reach milestones faster, trim budgets, and please your customers overall? You want to ensure that your approach has a tangible outcome for your company.

Intrapreneurship Is Just as Important As Its Counterpart

Again, we live in a culture where going it on our own is glorified. And while yes, there will always be a need for business owners, it's important to remember that everyone may not be meant to be an entrepreneur, which is quite okay.

You can still work for a company, and be innovative and creative while leaving your mark on your industry. See where you fit in, find the problems that your superiors are most concerned about, and begin addressing them with solutions. Before you know it, you will be the resident innovator and entrepreneurial leader.

Sources:

7 workplace collaboration statistics and advice that will have you knocking down cubicles, https://blog.clearcompany.com/7-workplace-collaboration-statistics-that-will-have-you-knocking-down-cubicles

Apple employees reveal the 19 best things about working for the world's most valuable company, https://www.businessinsider.com/best-things-about-working-at-apple-2016-1

Changing change management, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/changing-change-management

Guide: Foster an innovative workplace, https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/foster-an-innovative-workplace/steps/introduction/

How Patagonia’s unique leadership structure enabled them to thrive, https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/how-patagonias-unique-leadership-structure-enabled-them-thrive

The Intrapreneur, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/intrapreneur.asp