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How to become an Intrepreneur

EntrepreneurCountry Global Thursday, 22 March 2012.

In this article I look at intrapreneurship and how successful organisations for the future can leverage organisational talent. In order to address this, I’m going to answer two questions. Firstly, what kind of environment will enable intrapreneurs to flourish and create value, and second, how can individuals develop and be recognised as an entrepreneur?

Here are 5 enablers to create an environment of intrapreneurship

Reward the behaviour you seek – if you want team behaviour reward team behaviour; if you want innovative ideas, reward the idea and the successful implementation of the idea. When there is conflict between how people think they will be rewarded and recognised and what actually happens many people take account of only what is real not what is said. A big part of this is creating the right culture. That includes paying people enough money so that money isn’t an issue and then creating an environment that allows for autonomy, mastery and purpose – the 3 main drivers for motivation For more info on this read Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Make it OK for people to take risks – for many organisations this can seem quite scary, because it means allowing people to make mistakes. However, many innovative ideas are by their very nature risky but equally they can also deliver a greater benefit when successful. Blind and reckless risk taking is obviously not appropriate so parameters of for example time, resource or context may “qualify” progression of an idea or activity. In saying that too many restrictions can have a negative effect on intrapreneurship.

Give people ownership – create an open and accountable environment where intrapreneurs have control over content and process so that they can make things happen in the way they see fit. This may mean having appropriate reporting and support mechanisms in place so that some degree of monitoring and assessment can take place.  As an example, Atlassian, a software company has Fedex days – 24hours of unadulterated innovation

Promote transparency across the business – Make it very clear what the business strategy is, where the focus for growth and development is and how innovation is a key part of the future of the business through for example, creation of new products and services, realignment of value through process improvements or organisational changes.

Make the business about learning – innovation may occur in pockets by function, geographic region or service area. To gain maximum organisational advantage from success and learning there must be some process for knowledge and ideas management, which must be open, accessible to everyone and actively used and reviewed so that learning can be actively disseminated across an organisation. Just having an intranet where people write reports is not enough to gain the most advantage.

How to Develop as an Intrapreneur

As a budding intrapreneur what can an employee do to create value, make an impact and be recognised for their contribution?

Know thyself! – understand their strengths and where they have skill or knowledge gaps. Be able and willing to acknowledge these strengths and gaps in order to seek out complementary skills and knowledge to make an idea better and/or to bring an idea to fruition.

Create a “Brand You” – businesses have a brand that drives there place in their market and what they stand for. It is also what attracts customers and sponsors to them. Having a personal brand can have the same benefit for an intrapreneur. As someone becomes recognised for certain things or ways of getting things done so people will look to the person to support or work with them. Developing a personal intrapreneurial brand within an organisation can make a budding intrapreneur attractive and recognisable.


Network, Network, Network – the saying that knowledge is power is still true but its meaning and application have changed. The power has a more positive connotation; one that implies influence, cooperation, inclusion and collaboration rather than isolated control and “power over”. Equally if not more important is the power of an internal and external network. Who you know, who knows you and how relationships can be leveraged for the greater good. Getting to know colleagues for more than their immediate role, getting to know what is important for people across all parts of the business and getting to be known are key activities for an intrapreneur. This is often called building social capital and at the core of that is building trust. Networking for intrapreneurs is about leveraging people’s skill knowledge and talents for mutual benefit and to benefit the organisation.

If you think your organisation is ready to build a culture of intrapreneurship and you would like some support in figuring out how to do that for your business, please drop me an email at success@onestepfurther.co.uk or phone +44 (0)1258 817371

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