Entrepreneur vs Intrapreneur

When you think about entrepreneurs, what do you think about? What are their characteristics, how do they present themselves, how are they with staff, what did they risk getting started and so on? Are these some of the things you think about with entrepreneurs? How about the willingness to quit, discipline, haters, people that tell them no and so on? We think of all these things when we think about entrepreneurs.  

But the biggest thing we think about is their ability to put capital investment on the line and charge forward. They took money either through personal means or investment and put it towards an idea that is supposed to make them money.  

Where we are challenged in today’s market are people’s expressions of intrapreneurs. Supposedly they are staff that have an entrepreneurial spirit. What does that even mean, and can it even exist?

Operations Business Strategy Planning | Entrepreneur vs Intrapreneur

Definition of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are people that have an idea and then invest money into that idea for the hopes of making a profit. Probably the simplest way we can describe it! Some characteristics that come to mind are;

  • Self–starter – you must have the ability to get up and going without anyone around you pushing you 
  • Disciplined – the ability to stay on task no matter if things are easy or hard 
  • Competitive – you are fighting for market positioning 
  • Creative – your ideas will change, and you will need to come up with more 
  • People skills– you have to get along and probably persuade others towards your product 
  • Negotiate– you will need others to purchase your product or service 
  • Sales – the message needs to get out about what you do and how you can solve their problems 
  • Marketing– how is your message crafted and where is it being sent out 
  • Strategy– your idea needs a system and process. A plan if you will, but also can change when and if needed 
  • Flexible– nothing ever stays the same. Have the ability to change 
  • Resourceful – things come at you so fast looking for answers, that you need to be resourceful in how you solve client’s problems.  

Entrepreneurs take the lion’s share of risk and a lot of sleepless nights, either trying to get their idea to market or keep the business running when times get rough. They gave up the comfort of a secure life in a job to move forward with their idea and hopefully make a large enough profit to retire.

Definition of an Intrapreneur

This is where things get lost for us as a business consulting group. Yes, you can train a person a specific task of a position in a company, but to have the entrepreneurial spirit defined as an intrapreneur is where we get confused. By labelling someone as an intrapreneur, we have seen it time and time again that staff start to think that they are running the place and able to take the same risks as an owner/entrepreneur, which is not the case.

For well over 90% of the companies we worked for as an employee over the years, owners allow you to take risks, but those risks need to be vetted through the owner and then the owner decides. It should! As an entrepreneur, you move forward based on your strategy map. To follow up on the characteristics above for an entrepreneur, we have placed them below as well and changed the notes towards an intrapreneur.

  • Self–starter – as you move up the corporate ladder, you will need this ability to perform at a higher level 
  • Disciplined – the same rules apply whether you are an intrapreneur or entrepreneur 
  • Competitive – you are competitive in your market and the owners ensure you are staying with the lines required to succeed 
  • Creative – you remain creative within the job you were hired for looking for different areas you can accel at 
  • People skills – you need this skill no matter where you are in the workplace 
  • Negotiate – you can only negotiate to your level of expertise and allowance at a company 
  • Sales – you only sell the product or service you were hired for 
  • Marketing– your marketing is centred around your area of expertise 
  • Strategy – you create a strategy for your department or area 
  • Flexible – you should always have this ability, but it remains to your expertise 
  • Resourceful– both should always be.

Maybe, an intrapreneur is the new buzz word to keep people engaged and wanting to stay at a company. There are many companies that start today because of the economy, so if a business can label you as an intrapreneur you will stay longer?  

The way we see it and explain it to staff and owners we consult with is that labels are not needed. If you treat people accordingly based on the position at a company, have open forums for communication and allow others to speak and act freely, you won’t need labels to keep people around. Communicate, train, be loyal, be trustworthy and so on.  

If you want to discuss this topic further in your organization, feel free to reach out to us at Future To Now Consulting to keep the message going with a business management consultant.