Liberating Leadership, Innovation and Creativity

What the Hell is an Intrapreneur?


We all know what an entrepreneur is but there is a new buzz-word in the business world that is causing a few raised eyebrows and a bit of excitement around the boardroom table… and that’s intrapreneur!

When we think of the term entrepreneur we conjure up images of start-up companies being planned around the kitchen table and multi-million dollar business ideas being developed between mates over a beer at the pub. We think of Naomi Simson, Janine Allis, Richard Branson and Lord Sugar. We know that entrepreneurs are risk takers who have a business idea and turn that idea into a reality.

So we know what an entrepreneur is and how they operate but what the hell is an intrapreneur you ask?

Good question with a pretty simple answer.

An intrapreneur is a worker with many of the same attributes as an entrepreneur but who works within a corporation or business.

The dictionary defines an intrapreneur as “An employee of a company who has many of the attributes of entrepreneurs. An intrapreneur is someone within a company that takes calculated risks in an effort to solve a given problem.”

Intrapreneurs are innovative risk takers who are future focused and not afraid to embrace change, who are thirsty to learn new skills and take on leadership roles. They are career forward thinkers who say, “YES” to new ideas, challenges and projects. They are the workers within a business who recognise that learning new skills is more valuable than the wage they earn at the end of the week. Intrapreneurs are people who work within an organisation but treat their position within the company as if the business is their own.

An intrapreneur is that person within a business or organisation that convinces others that a liberal, slightly intimidating, progressive idea with high potential is not only possible but also worthwhile and achievable. They are not afraid to dive into unchartered waters and are always future ready.

Intrapreneurs need to be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity and that is not an easy skill to find and is one of the qualities that make them so unique.

An intrapreneur is someone who is not afraid to try something and fail, or someone with the potential and guts and grit to make it past barriers and blockages, whatever they may be. Intrapreneurship is a way to create meaningful change and development within a company or business but without the kinds of risks taken by entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs come in many different varieties. Some are at the beginning of their career – a work in progress. Others are highly experienced with the confidence and know-how to take on huge challenges and make disruptive changes within their companies.

So what are some of the skills that an intrapreneur is likely to posses you ask? Well an intrapreneur will most certainly display if not all but at least the majority of the following attributes:

  • An open attitude to learning and a creative approach to finding ways to make things happen.
  • Perseverance even in the face of obstacles.
  • A sense of inspiration and motivation by the success of others.
  • An appreciation of feedback and a willing attitude to grow from it and to learn from mistakes.
  • A cup half full approach to life and work.
  • A way at looking at failure as an opportunity for future success.

An intrapreneur is the employee whose approach to their job as is as if it was their own business so they will always:

  • Provide excellent customer service, go the extra mile and follow up by calling the customer back if they say that they are going to.
  • Look at ways to keep costs down and recycle when possible.
  • Use their time productively and make the most out of opportunities as they present themselves.
  • Be professional in their attitude towards work and turn up each morning with a smile on their face and a positive approach to work life
  • Act like everyday is their fist day on the job and bring their “A game” with them to work.
  • Approach every opportunity as a potential lead, sale or future contact.

An intrapreneur is basically an entrepreneur – except that they work inside an organisation or business.