The Intrapreneur. No, Not the Entrepreneur.

Are you one? If you are, you may have a tremendous runway for growth.

This article was based on the interview with Adam Chen by Bonnie Habyan for The Innovation Economy podcast. Listen to the original episode here:

Have you ever felt a burning passion to drive change within your organization? A desire to take risks, innovate, and push the boundaries, all while remaining under the corporate umbrella? If so, you might just be an “intrapreneur”.

Contrary to popular belief, the term “intrapreneur” is not a recent buzzword. It’s been around since the 1980s, representing a class of professionals who possess the entrepreneurial spirit, but choose to innovate within established companies. A recent study by Accenture showed that companies with active intrapreneurial initiatives witnessed a 20% increase in innovative product launches compared to those without. This underlines the fact that intrapreneurs have never been more valuable. Their role in modern businesses isn’t just a trend—it’s a transformative shift, bringing forth innovation from within and proving vital to an organization’s evolution and success.

I recently had the chance to speak with expert Adam Chen, president of AmenityLink and an authority on innovation and entrepreneurship, on an edition of my Brand the Change podcast. I asked him how he defines the intrapreneur? “It is simple,” Chen says. “ They are internal change-makers. They’re professionals, who, rather than starting their own venture from scratch, seek opportunities within existing structures. These are the risk-takers, the boundary-pushers, and the ones who challenge the status quo without breaking away from their company’s confines.”

So, what sets intrapreneurs apart?

According to Chen, it’s primarily two things:

1. An Innovative Spirit – At their core, intrapreneurs are innovators. This doesn’t exclusively pertain to technological advances. Innovations can span across fields, sectors, and disciplines. They’re the individuals who look at existing systems, processes, or products and think, “How can we do this better?”

2. They Have a Risk Appetite with a Dash of Security – Intrapreneurs want to take risks, much like entrepreneurs. But they might also value the stability and resources a larger organization offers. This balance between security and risk-taking is where the intrapreneur thrives.

Becoming a successful intrapreneur isn’t solely about being a risk-taker or an innovator. As per Chen’s advice, cultivating a breadth of skills, considering opportunity costs, and fostering deep relationships are the steppingstones to intrapreneurial success.

By now, if you think you have now defined yourself as an intrapreneur, you could be indispensable in today’s corporate world. We live in a rapidly changing environment. Companies that do not innovate risk becoming obsolete. Intrapreneurs, with their entrepreneurial mindset, can drive internal change, propelling companies towards growth and evolution. By harnessing the power of intrapreneurs, organizations can foster a culture of innovation, adaptability, and forward-thinking.

Rest assured; intrapreneurship is not a fleeting trend. It’s a crucial facet of modern corporate culture that recognizes the importance of internal innovation. If you resonate with the traits of an intrapreneur, know that you have an enormous potential to drive change and growth. And, as Adam Chen points out, “The world of intrapreneurship is only expanding, offering ample opportunities for those willing to take the leap. As industries evolve and become more competitive, the demand for intrapreneurial thinking is on the rise.”

 Companies that foster a culture of innovation and encourage their employees to think like entrepreneurs are often more agile, responsive, and prepared for the challenges of the modern business world. And in today’s business environment, being open to change is not just a good quality—it’s essential. Organizations are recognizing that in order to stay ahead, they must be willing to evolve, adapt, and embrace new ideas. Intrapreneurs are often at the forefront of this evolution, acting as catalysts for growth and change within their organizations.

In this dynamic business landscape, intrapreneurs stand at the cusp of a transformative shift. Operating within the safety nets of established companies, they have the advantage of leveraging organizational resources while embodying the spirit of entrepreneurship. This duality presents them with a long runway for growth. As they push boundaries, innovate, and reshape traditional business models from within, they pave the way for substantial organizational advancements. As the business world continues to recognize and embrace the potential of intrapreneurship, one thing is clear: the future is bright for those who are willing to think differently, challenge the status quo, and drive change from within. The ascendancy of the intrapreneur signals not just an internal organizational revolution but a broader evolution in the world of business.

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