Intrapreneurs: The In-House Form of Entrepreneurship Every Small Business Needs

by / ⠀Startup Advice / June 1, 2011

Who Else Wants a little-known, hands-on successful, profit-growing Strategy?

THE SECRET?  It’s all about Intrapreneurs. The tale of how your employees may be greater assets than even your best selling product or service.  They are the HIDDEN SECRET that most business owners don’t or can’t unlock in their business.

Think back to when you hired your first employee.  What did you want to know most about him or her?  Once you got past the questions like education level and where his or her ala mater was? Weren’t you looking for rapport with the eager person? Digging to find out if your values and their personal goals were in line with the company’s?  In a nutshell, did they have your similar spirit and drive?

The trouble with entrepreneurs doing the hiring?  We like to hire people like ourselves.  Entrepreneurs, for example, are known for their innovative powers they possess.  For their drive to find opportunity for their ideas.  John Cage sums up the entrepreneurial mindset quite simply, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I’m frightened of the old ones.”

Entrepreneurs may not be the best people to find support staff, unless they are a TALENT MASTER, someone who intuitively can spot talent that COMPLIMENTS their own talents.  The trick is finding someone who has the spark, like them, and is willing to work in a team environment.  An Intrapreneur.

Why Your Business needs more Intrapreneurs

Intrapreneurs are people within the company that have the hidden entrepreneurial spirit, usually sparked by the founder or founding team.  A great example to look at is the story of the Post-It notes.  3M is well-known for the environment they create for their engineers.  They have a “bootlegging” policy that allows their employees to spend up to 15 percent of time creating new ideas and products.  Spencer Silver (3M scientist) and Art Frey (Silver’s colleague) are known to have created the adhesive because of this intrapreneur-inspired environment.

The Costs of Lacking In-House Entrepreneurship?

Now more than ever, you can’t risk having your prized employees leave your side in business.  With upcoming changes in demographics, great employees will be in short supply.  Not to mention the cost of finding, training, and grooming new employees. In 1975 Stephen Wozniak, a designer at Hewett Packer, left all because his boss wouldn’t accept his idea of having a microcomputer able to hookup to a home television set.  Therefore, Woznaik started his own company with Steve Jobs.  I hope you easily guessed the company.  Apple.

Creating a Culture of In-House Entrepreneurship

Do an Employee “status check”. The first thing to look at is the people you attract.  How many prized employees do you have?  Ranging from many to none, this will most likely reflect your current growth or decline.  Do what is needed.  Hire employees with a promising future with your team.   Perhaps, even cleaning out the employees that are no longer the free-thinkers you once thought they were.

Create core “think tanks” needed in the business. This could be as simple as touring an ad agency and writing down everything that sparks your imagination.  The colors, quotes, funky furnishings, or newest technological products.  It’s all about the state of mind.  Think Tanks are just the catalyst to get you and your employees to this state of countless, great ideas.

Eliminate the junk getting stuck between innovations. Countless meetings.  Constant approval.  Red tape.  Instead, give the employees freedom to pursue their ideas.  Make it easy for them to focus on just being innovative.  Cut the obstacles.  Try a new idea, test it fast, then cut your losses.  Failing fast is the road to more successes.

Set up a bootlegging policy. Google and 3M, along with many corporations do it.  Why not add this trick to your strategy?  Allow employees to have a certain percentage of time spent focusing only on passionate ideas that compliment your company?  Having the financial backing of the company reassures them of the confidence you have in them.  If a successful idea occurs, a possible bonus or promotion can be worked out too.  But keep in mind that the real payoff for the employee comes from, “I did it.  It worked.”  The same motivation entrepreneurs have—the deep sense of accomplishment.

Again, Intrapreneurism is all about why your employees are greater assets –greater than any product or services your now offer.  They are the future survival of your business.  Every business must have a ‘what’s next’ plan.  Intrapreneurs keep this funnel alive.

Remember, your team is your win-win, your hidden assets.  “If everyone is moving forward, then success takes care of itself.” –Henry Ford

This post was written by Diana Wright.  She has a knack for creating wealth and great relationships.  Learn more about her and her creative style at InkedbyDW

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.