If you need fresh ideas to take your business to another level, consider encouraging your employees to become intrapreneurs.

What is an Intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is essentially an internal entrepreneur: someone who has the characteristics of a highly motivated entrepreneur, but works from within an existing company and has access to the funds and resources they need to execute their plans. The term was reportedly coined in 1978 by Gifford Pinchot III and Elizabeth S. Pinchot, and it has been used ever since to describe this type of employee.

"Intrapreneurs are typically highly motivated individuals who have specific skill sets—as well as leadership abilities and an innovative vision that others in the corporation can get behind," explains Investopedia.1 "Although intrapreneurs may have their 'day job' and usual assignments on top of their new venture, they are willing to take certain risks and interpret trends in the marketplace to visualize the next steps that a company may need to innovate or stay ahead of the competition."

Encouraging Intrapreneurship

One way to get this kind of dynamic within your company is to hire with an eye toward the entrepreneurial spirit. One problem with this, however, is that it may be more difficult to retain such hires if they are truly passionate about ideas they already have, unless those ideas have a place within your business.

Another way to foster the "intrapreneurial spirit" within your company is to encourage it among existing employees. As Wall Street Mojo notes, "Many employees possess entrepreneurial skills but do not get the right platform to explore and implement their innovative ideas. Similarly, companies are always searching for talents who can take their business to the next level with new products, services, and processes. And intrapreneurship serves as a connecting link between the two."2

Regularly talk with your employees about their ideas and ask them about how they think your company could innovate. You never know what kind of game-changing ideas may arise from these types of conversations. Even if a great idea comes from an employee who might not have the skills or qualities to execute or lead on the project, you may be able to team them with others who do have the necessary traits.

Benefits of Intrapreneurship

Innovation is the most significant benefit to be reaped from having intrapreneurs on staff. This  may give your business a competitive edge and possibly new healthy streams of revenue, which is more helpful than ever in uncertain times like these.

Another potential benefit is the ability to retain valuable talent. A true intrapreneur is likely to be a happy employee because they are allowed to explore big ideas without much risk. They are working with company resources and team members and don't have to deal with the same pressure that an entrepreneur out on their own would experience. There still needs to be supervision and accountability, but they are likely to enjoy having this kind of role and are equally likely to not want to make a bad impression and fail the company or themselves.

Another benefit is the ability to attract great talent who want to work at a company with this type of culture. This may lead to even more great ideas and innovation.

An intrapreneurial work environment can be great for both employers and employees. Be sure to give your intrapreneurs the freedom and resources they need to realize their vision. It may require patience and even result in some failures, but it’s probably worth it if the right ideas come along.

1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/intrapreneur.asp

2. https://www.wallstreetmojo.com/intrapreneur/