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Entrepreneurs vs Intrapreneurs – Innovating from the Inside

December 11, 2015 by Liz Green

Entrepreneurs vs Intrapreneurs – Innovating from the Inside

When we hear the word ‘entrepreneur,’ it often brings to mind super-famous people like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or Sir Richard Branson. Their stories are inspirational, but what’s especially encouraging to learn is that many successful innovators began their careers as employees.

If you have entrepreneurial tendencies but limited experience or funds, it might not be practical or you may not feel ready to launch a start-up straight out of uni.

You may want some industry experience working for an established organisation and, let’s be honest, you’ll probably need the reliable salary that comes with a job.

Thankfully today, working for someone else doesn’t mean you have to abandon your entrepreneurial aspirations and opt for a less rewarding career. More and more businesses are recognising the very real benefits of employing a new kind of innovator, ‘the intrapreneur.’

The concept of the employee who can think and act like an entrepreneur, but work within a structured organisation, isn’t new. But in the past, this practice has been associated more with tech companies such as Google or Apple.

At LinkedIn, employees have the opportunity to pitch new ideas to senior managers. If the idea is accepted, they’re given time and resources to develop it further.

While we can’t all work for LinkedIn, you might be surprised to learn that in recent years, organisations as diverse as Planet Innovation, Commonwealth Bank and Mirvac have all featured in BRW’s annual list of the 50 most innovative companies in Australia.

According to innovation specialists Inventium, 85% of the top 20 companies on the list have formal innovation programs in place, and 90% linked innovation strategy to business strategy.

So, if you think and act like an entrepreneur, but would prefer to work for somebody else (at least to start with), include entrepreneurial skills and achievements on your résumé and LinkedIn profile; research businesses with a genuine commitment to innovation; and, start pursuing opportunities within these organisations. All the best!

For another perspective on Entrepreneurs vs Intrapreneurs, two new Careers Challenge modules – Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship – are now officially live.

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