Redefining success: Intrapreneur vs Entrepreneur

8 minutes
Image: Goals and Vision of Intrapreneur vs Entrepreneur

A lot of people dream of being their own boss and starting a business. That’s where the question of being considered an intrapreneur vs entrepreneur come into play. As there is something glamorous about launching your own company.

Creating something from an idea, something uniquely yours, developing it from the ground up, and finally developing a substantial organization, is appealing.

Entrepreneurship has been talked about a lot throughout the years; however, an interesting path that is often overlooked is something called “intrapreneurship”.

On the surface, although, it’s highly admirable to build something on your own and be a leader, it’s rarely talked about how important innovators and change-makers who work within organizations are.

Intrapreneurs constantly look for ways to improve from within organizations. They are active participants in the core processes, product development, and services.

Using a safety net and the resources of big corporations, entrepreneurs are able to take risks and take part in meaningful change from within.

Like any significant role, intrapreneurship also comes with its challenges. Everything from navigating corporate politics, being persuasive when it comes to ideation, dealing with and communicating effectively with leaders, and many others.

Intrapreneur vs Entrepreneur: Who is an Intrepreneur and who is an Entrepreneur

Let’s break down the key differences between intrapreneurs vs entrepreneurs. When you hear “entrepreneur”, you probably picture someone taking the leap to start their own business from scratch

They have a brilliant idea, create a product or service, and build a company around it. It’s exhilarating but also incredibly risky.

Entrepreneurs have to do it all: develop a viable business plan, line up funding from investors, assemble a team, find office space, and relentlessly market their brand to potential customers. 

It’s the startup grind of turning their vision into reality, often running on fumes until they can get revenue flowing. 

The rewards can be massive if it takes off, but there are no guarantees. Intrapreneurs, on the other hand, are the innovative minds operating within an established company. 

They get to channel that entrepreneurial spirit and passion for new ideas, but they do it with the safety net of a steady job and corporate resources.

These are the forward-thinkers and change-makers who are always on the lookout for ways to create new products, services, or strategies that will drive growth for their employer. 

An intrapreneur could be anyone from an ambitious sales rep to a C-suite executive. Their innovative projects may sometimes operate like mini-startups within the larger organization.

While entrepreneurs are taking on all the risk themselves, intrapreneurs get to be scrappy innovators without putting their personal finances on the line. 

They get a steady paycheck, benefits, team support, and the established brand recognition behind them as they push new initiatives. 

It’s a best-of-both-worlds scenario for those who crave entrepreneurial opportunities but also want a bit more security and resources.

Now, being an intrapreneur has its own challenges. You have to be savvy about navigating office politics, selling your progressive ideas to leadership, and finding creative ways to shake things up within a larger corporate structure and hierarchy. 

However, many companies are actively encouraging this entrepreneurial mindset by setting up things like innovation labs or giving autonomy to certain teams to operate like internal startups.

These labs, also called think tanks or idea incubators within the company, create a space for employees to innovate freely. 

The teams get a longer leash to explore, experiment, and develop new concepts that could be game-changers for the business. If their projects show promise, they may get rolled out on a broader scale.

Whether you’re drawn more to the high-risk, high-reward adventure of entrepreneurship or prefer channeling that spirit from within an organization, there’s plenty of opportunity to be innovative in today’s business world. 

Intrapreneurs get to be entrepreneurs without massively disrupting their personal lives and finances.

The contrast

An entrepreneur is an individual who takes on the risk of starting and running their own business. Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind new ventures, bringing their ideas to life and assuming full ownership and responsibility for their success or failure. 

They have complete autonomy in decision-making but also bear the burden of securing resources, funding, and building a team from the ground up.

The core distinction lies in employment status, risk profile, ownership, and decision-making autonomy. Intrapreneurs work within a company, while entrepreneurs create their own businesses.

The motivations and mindsets of intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs often diverge. Intrapreneurs are typically drawn to the security of a steady paycheck, access to resources, and the established structure of a company. 

They thrive on the challenge of driving innovation within a larger organization while leveraging the support and mentorship of experienced professionals.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are often driven by a burning passion, a desire for autonomy, and the potential for high rewards. 

They are willing to take on significant risks and responsibilities in pursuit of their vision. Entrepreneurs possess a unique mindset characterized by resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty.

Where the paths meet for an Intrapreneur and Entrepreneur

Despite operating in distinct contexts, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs share several similarities that are essential to their success.

Innovative Mindset and Creative Problem-Solving: At the core of both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship lies an unwavering commitment to innovation

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs alike possess a unique ability to identify opportunities, challenge the status quo, and develop novel solutions to complex problems. 

They approach challenges with a creative mindset, thinking outside the box and embracing unconventional ideas.

Whether it’s an entrepreneur developing a disruptive product or service or an intrapreneur spearheading a game-changing initiative within their company, the driving force is a relentless pursuit of innovation. 

This mindset enables them to spot gaps in the market, anticipate customer needs, and stay ahead of the competition.

Risk-Taking and Resilience: Success in entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship often requires a willingness to take calculated risks. 

Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs must navigate uncharted territories, experiment with new ideas, and confront the possibility of failure.

They possess an inherent risk-taking appetite, coupled with the resilience to bounce back from setbacks and learn from their experiences.

Intrapreneurs may face resistance to change within their organizations, while entrepreneurs grapple with the uncertainties of launching a new venture. 

However, their ability to embrace risk and persevere in the face of adversity is a defining characteristic that propels them forward.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning: In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability and a commitment to continuous learning are crucial for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. 

They must stay attuned to market trends, customer preferences, and emerging technologies, continuously refining their strategies and adapting to new realities.

Successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs embrace a growth mindset, recognizing that learning is an ongoing process. 

They actively seek out new knowledge, skills, and insights, leveraging feedback and experience to refine their approaches. 

This adaptability and willingness to learn enable them to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Strong Leadership and Team-Building Skills: Whether leading a team within a corporate setting or building a startup from the ground up, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs share the need for strong leadership and team-building skills. 

They must inspire and motivate others, communicate their vision effectively, and foster a collaborative and productive environment.

Successful intrapreneurs navigate the complexities of corporate cultures, rallying support for their initiatives and leading cross-functional teams. 

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, must assemble and lead a talented and dedicated team, aligning diverse perspectives and skills toward a common goal.

Closing thoughts on Intrapreneur vs Entrepreneur

Given the increase of freelance jobs and side hustles, the “gig economy” is on the rise, and there no longer remains a strict distinction between intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship.

It is common for people to explore a more hybrid way of working, like maintaining a corporate role while also pursuing entrepreneurial goals simultaneously

In the past decade, there has been an increase in the desire for autonomy and independence in the workforce. People want to choose their own hours and work on what they’re passionate about.

Ever since the pandemic popularised remote working styles, more people have been preferring to work from their own space. 

The growth and developments in digital platforms have made it easy for people to create a combination of intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial lifestyles. 

When it comes to social contribution, both sides of the workforce play significant roles in the fields of innovation and economic growth. 

The choice between these two paths ultimately comes down to personal goals. Both lifestyles involve risk-taking and dedication. 

Success in either field requires passion, perseverance, and a strong commitment to goals. Everyone has to keep learning and adapting to their respective working systems. 

In order to craft your path, you need to understand the requirements of each lifestyle and be well informed of the limitations of each choice.

The emergence of non-traditional work systems provides flexibility and independence. The evolution of technology and business models shows great promise for all individuals.

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