The main difference is that an intrapreneur works within an organisation – usually a large company that encourages and rewards innovation among its employees. An entrepreneur, on the other hand, works outside the corporate system as it were, realising their innovation through a business vehicle of their own; this is usually, but not always, through starting up their own business.
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Are You An Intrapreneur?
If you work for a large organisation, really look out for the best interests of that organisation and/or industry, then you have many of the best traits of an intrapreneur.
It isn’t always easy to be a creative thinker in the boxed-in corporate world; getting upper and middle management to support your new ideas can often be a challenge. While having an innovative mindset within a staid company structure can have its limitations, there are some huge benefits to being able to innovate within a large company; resources for example, are usually easier to access when you’re an intrapreneur as opposed to an entrepreneur.
Resources aren’t just financial. You may have a market theory you can test using your organisation’s list, or a product innovation you’d like to trial in the organisational research and development lab. You also have access to a pool of knowledge that is relevant to your vision, but which might well be outside your own skill set. Perhaps you’d like to chat the promotion of your innovation over with the head of the marketing team, or discuss a product innovation with the company’s engineers. These are the kinds of resources you can access from within.
Are You An Entrepreneur?Entrepreneurs have the freedom to work on their vision and ideas without the restriction of management oversight or company rules and regulations. However, they also need capital and other types of input to become a success. While an entrepreneur is free to try any and all manner of innovations, they are also constrained by limited financial resources. They may not have all the knowledge and skills they need to complete their project; they may be answerable to investors or other interested parties.
Industry experts who may have contributed information and skills to their project for free will surely expect some kind of payoff, whether it be financial, reputation-based, or something else entirely. That said, having the courage of your convictions and taking a chance on turning your own vision into reality is always an impressive feat; it is just so rarely accomplished entirely on one’s own.
Entrepreneurs often cannot afford to access resources easily in their early days as start-up businesspeople. Some entrepreneurs begin their careers as intrapreneurs, and then, when they have the knowledge and the skills and feel ready, they take their chance and move beyond the organisations that nurture them.
What sort of mindset do you think you have? Are you an Intrapreneur, shaking things up from the inside, or are you one of the budding entrepreneurs currently wowing the world? Share your insights in the comments box below.