How to foster a culture of intrapreneurship

Joe Svetlik

Monday 1 May 2017

How do you bring the dynamism of an entrepreneur mindset into your business? Given the right tools and the right environment, an intrapreneur can help your firm grow much quicker.

An intrapreneur is essentially a full-time employee of a company, except they behave like an entrepreneur. It combines the best of both worlds – the employee has the security of a regular salary and all the perks of a full-time job (like healthcare, pension and so on), while having the freedom and flexibility to work creatively.

It’s a great way of working and can foster innovation, something more than 80 per cent of executives believe is crucial to organisational success. Implement a similar policy and you may soon see the benefits, both for the company and the intrapreneur themselves.

Ensuring the right fit

Just like being an entrepreneur, it takes a certain kind of person to be an intrapreneur. They need to be motivated, creative and dynamic, and be able to solve problems independently rather than rely on someone else to do so.

While this seems an attractive prospect, in reality it often involves working seven-day weeks and always being on call – just like an entrepreneur. Not everyone will enjoy this, so set out the goals and responsibilities of the role clearly before designating your intrapreneur.

Once you’ve found your intrapreneur, it’s time to set them loose.

Fostering an environment for creativity

Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs relish new challenges. If you’ve picked the right candidates, they should have no problem challenging themselves through new business ideas. One of the best things you can do is relieve them of some of their day-to-day duties to give them room to work. If they don’t fill their time with new business opportunities, you might have to question whether they’re right for the role.

At the same time, give them more responsibility. Encourage them to make decisions and offer constant feedback on their performance. Reward the successes and use the failings as learning opportunities – it’s the only way they’ll get better.

If they’re afraid of failing, remind them that they have the resources and support of the company behind them, and that any mistakes are likely to be minor (unless you’ve given them too much responsibility too early, that is). Offer incentives such as time off, public praise or a bonus to motivate them.

Finally, give them ownership of projects to boost their leadership skills. Seeing a project through to completion is always a valuable experience, so encourage intrapreneurs to fully realise their current ideas before moving on to a new one.

Intrapreneurs can add a lot to a business. By fostering a culture that allows them to flourish, you’ll have happier workers, not to mention a thriving, more dynamic enterprise.

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