We all know an entrepreneur; perhaps not personally but television and the internet are awash with them: Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Oprah, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick et al all of whom share similar traits.
Imagine a full time employee of a firm who also happens to possess many of the qualities found in the common or garden entrepreneur. These people are called Intrapreneurs. Here are just some of the characteristics that they are likely to have: visionaries, risk takers, strong sense of urgency, goal driven, inspired and optimistic.
The question is: are you born an Intrapreneur or can you become one. My answer is both; some people are fortunate enough to be born with strong entrepreneurial instincts but if you aren’t one of them it is still possible to learn, adopt and develop the basic skills.
Why would you bother? Mainly because you get to play by a different set of rules. You are valuable because you are more focused on making things happen rather than getting things done; you are very well connected and seen as “part of the solution” but most of all if business development is part of your job you are self-sufficient in bringing in sustainable revenue streams.
In short you more likely to be highly valued, you would enjoy greater job security (who is going to sack somebody who adds so much value?) and have a much better time of it all. Different rules, dear readers, different rules.
Welcome to the world of an Intrapreneur! If you would like to know more then please read on.
Becoming An Intrapreneur
Why bother becoming an Intrapreneur? Simple, they are self-reliant, attractive and valuable people who are highly prized by their employers and sought after by the competition. Job security becomes somebody else’s problem because these people don’t just get things done they make things happen and as a result they have choices.
So what qualities do Intrapreneurs share with their Entrepreneurial cousins?
- Confident: are people born this way or can you create inner confidence where there was none before. In my experience inner confidence comes from experience, preparation, understanding and above all success, so of course you can create it yourself!
- Risk Takers: the overwhelming majority of us are actually risk averse so are Intrapreneurs any different? I think not. There is a world of difference between reckless and cavalier behaviour and taking calculated chances based upon research, preparation and personal experience.
- Visionaries: whilst most people are entirely focused on the here and now and not able to drag themselves away from the immediate problems and openings that they are immersed in Intrapreneurs occasionally climb the highest metaphoric tree in the forest and take a look around.
- Goal driven: I am a big believer in goals. I can’t really see the down side of having them except that you risk not reaching them (wrongly referred to as failure) and your ego and self esteem get all hurt and bruised. Boo hoo – well get over it and decide what you want to achieve.
- Optimists: is the glass half full or half empty? Will it work or will it crash and burn? An Intrapreneur only sees the upside. Sometimes this can blind them to a realistic downside but mostly it enables them to press on when all the omens predict failure.
- Tenacious: One of my favourite quotations is by Winston Churchill “never give up; never, never give up; never, never, never give up”. When all else fails the Intrapreneur re-groups, re-thinks and re-launches until eventually a successful outcome is secured.
- Inspired: I know a lot of Entrepreneurs and when you speak with them they all have a story: why they are where they are and usually at the very heart of it is a source of inspiration. Mostly this inspiration is drawn from other people like a well of strength and energy. Intrapreneurs have their own sources of inner strength that give them ideas, energy and inspiration.
- Urgent: Recently I bought a card at WH Smiths in Birmingham airport. The card didn’t have a price on it and I hadn’t noticed one so the young lad behind the counter sidled (the word does not do it justice s—–i—–d—–l—–e—–d more like) round the counter to find it then sidled back. An Intrapreneur would have done the same thing in a tenth of the time. Do it now, do it now and do it QUICKLY is how they swing.
- Networkers: this is a foregone conclusion. Entrepreneurs either have great networks of people who are willing and able to help them or they employ people that do. Intrapreneurs fall into the former category. They know who they need to be connected to, how to add value to these people and are not afraid to call in favours. They are very unlikely to attend many so called “networking events” which they consider to be a waste of their time.
- In control of their BD: those Intrapreneurs who have business development as part of their role follow set processes to find and connect with new prospects; convert prospects into clients, close opportunities and maximise the ethical revenue from their existing clients. Because of this they enjoy rather than avoid BD and they become a “revenue magnet”.
- Focused: in Flair we have a business development saying “focus gives penetration and penetration gives revenue” so if you want revenue you have to focus. Substitute the word ‘success’ for ‘revenue’ and you have an attribute shared by the most successful Intrapreneurs. Without it their efforts become diffused and ineffective and they definitely know how to say ‘no’.
- JBDI: I have saved my favourite until last. Years ago I recall working with somebody who was planning to launch a software company. He was one of a group of programmers who had decided to give it a go. They had formed a company, done more cash-flow projections than Enron and had even had some glossy magazines printed up. To my knowledge they are still meeting once a week in their local pub to discuss the next move when what they really should have said was let’s Just Bloody Do It. The very essence of an Intrapreneur – they take action.
So there we have it: a dangerous beast and no mistake, but supposing you wanted to become one, what would you have to do?
I could say ‘see all those qualities listed above? Well just be more like that’. Very tempting but instead I’m going to list five steps you could take to begin your journey to Intrapreneur city.
- Make yourself some thinking time. You need to allow your mind to exercise its innovative tendencies and you won’t do this whilst enduring days filled with back to back meetings and evenings dedicated to attending pointless ‘networking’ events. Quiet reflection will feed many of the characteristics listed above and is an absolute must for the budding Intrapreneur.
- Be the ideas person. Never be afraid to put forward an idea, especially if it is well thought through and a bit left-field. Be above petty politics, rumour and side taking, just keep your mind on getting the best result for the firm but without resorting to tired old cliches.
- Publish your goals and make sure you think BIG. Do avoid being small time about it all. Want to make partner in 5 years? Aim for 3 and believe you will do it. Find out what you need to do to achieve your goals and then figure out the first step. Write it all down, tell people about it, but most of all spend lots of time thinking about it and how you can move just another step closer.
- Get yourself a source of inspiration. This is a seriously big deal. Whatever and whoever makes you think of things that could be, sends your creative juices into overdrive and makes you say to yourself ‘if they can do it so can I’ will do the trick.
- Take the initiative. JBDI – if thinking and planning are foundations of the Intrapreneurial skyscraper then action represents the steel girders, the smoked glass and the acres of marble. If you have some goals and a plan and have spent a lot of time thinking about them you are bound to have come up with some wickedly creative ways of making it all happen.
Above all else you need to decide where you stand on this: do you want to make the sacrifices necessary to become an Intrapreneur or are you happy to be a regular person – a very personal choice with no “right” answer.
Worth a thought though don’t you think?