Entrepreneurship by becoming an intrapreneur

Entrepreneurship by becoming an intrapreneur

What is an intrapreneur? 

Intrapreneurship is one of the trends associated with the development of innovation and startups: it allows one or more employees to develop an idea within the company that employs them. The objective for the company is to give a chance to innovative ideas and take advantage of the creative and inventive potential of its employees, while offering them the opportunity to live the adventure of the project they are passionate about.

The intrapreneur: a passionate entrepreneur employee

The intrapreneur is first and foremost a company employee, and acts within this framework by setting up his project. They remain in the company throughout the development of their project. They continue to benefit from the protection offered to employees by labor law, while working on their project on behalf of the company and taking advantage of the resources and support that the company provides. 

The intrapreneur can either keep the missions of his job and have part of his working time dedicated to his project or, sometimes, have the agreement of his company to focus exclusively on his project.

The intrapreneur is passionate

It is his passion for his professional field that leads the intrapreneur to develop his own approach by proposing a new application, a new tool, a new service, an innovative way to use his products, etc. His involvement in his sector and the permanent monitoring he does while keeping an ear to the ground for trends and uses, allow him to take a real entrepreneurial approach by moving from the idea to the desire to make it a reality. By proposing his project to his company and presenting it to his superiors or decision-makers, the employee becomes an intrapreneur: he must use his ability to convince and demonstrate, as he would in front of potential investors. (As a reminder: it was the employees of the 3M company who invented the post-it note for their own use in the 1970s. The project was spotted by a marketing director and then developed towards the general public to become the success it is today).

The intrapreneur is an entrepreneur 

In order to carry out his idea once it has been validated by his company, the intrapreneur will follow a classic creation process, except for the management of the company. The form of the project depends on the decisions of the company, which plays the role of incubator in this case: 

  • Internal project development: in this case the intrapreneur will be at the head of a project, or of a small team dedicated to this project
  • Creation of a structure: the project will be developed through the creation of a startup (which will be called a "spinoff", since it emanates from the parent company), a subsidiary of the company, depending on legal and economic requirements.

How to become an intrapreneur?

Answering a corporate call

Many companies, as well as public services, now call upon the internal talents of their staff in order to develop their activities and improve their performance. Indeed, who knows more about the realities of the field than the employees who are actually on the field? So if you respond to a call from your company, it will be able to guide you and offer you specific project management training that will help you complete all the steps of your project.

Taking a personal initiative

It is also possible to initiate your own project by spontaneously discussing it with the people in your company that you have identified. Within the company, the political game may be more complicated than when you start a business independently because you may have to deal with different levels of hierarchy, distribution of decision-making power, etc. So make sure you start with your direct managers, and/or communicate according to what makes the most sense to you. The style of the company and the management team will be a determining factor in how well they listen to your project. 

Take advantage of an opportunity to test your abilities

If you want to leave your company to embark on the adventure of entrepreneurship, it would be a shame not to talk about it with your manager first: indeed, even if you think that your project has no place within your company, if it is related to its activity, there is nothing to say that it cannot be supported by it. Moreover, even if it is not related, nothing says that your former employer will not be your first investor or client!

It is not uncommon that, in order to keep its best profiles, the company supports personal projects such as the creation of a company, training, retraining, or even, even if this remains rare, a "breathing leave".

Take into account the fact that to undertake within one's own company is to limit the risks and to benefit from a network and equipment provided.

Profile and training of the intrapreneur

The intrapreneur is able to ensure the development of his project in an autonomous way, taking into account his status as an employee. He must therefore be present on all fronts, while maintaining his motivation and tenacity. 

  • Great work capacity
  • Flexibility
  • Resistance to stress
  • Multitasking
  • Mastery of project management techniques and methods
  • Ability to argue, negotiate and convince
  • Questioning and tenacity
  • Problem solving reflex

The intrapreneur with management training or experience will have an easier time carrying out his or her initiative, especially if he or she has studied at a business school. They can also, through continuing education, access a Master's degree specializing in project management and business, or access a Master's degree specializing in entrepreneurship, as at the Paris School of Business, whose program also has an incubator.