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The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that adults across the world viewed entrepreneurship as a good career choice and an indicator of high social status. The coronavirus pandemic has since strengthened those beliefs. Some even forecast the post-pandemic world to be a golden age for would-be entrepreneurs.
While many desire to become entrepreneurs, many shouldn’t. They may have innovative ideas but lack a passion for the business side. They may have strategic insight but can’t responsibly take the leap of financial faith every business owner must.
Fortunately, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. There is a middle path that can lead to a rewarding career. That of the intrapreneur.
The word intrapreneur was coined in the late 70s to describe employees who act like an entrepreneur within an established organization. Intrapreneurs develop original solutions, processes, or products. They can then sell their ideas to the higher-ups, use those innovations to motivate change, and even transform entire industries.
The entrepreneurial spirit is the same, yet their position within an organization offsets the risks of starting a new business.
To succeed, entrepreneurs must face competition, market upheavals, and the maintenance of their personal branding. It’s little wonder then that the failure rate of start-ups is so high—beginning at 20 percent in the first year and slowly creeping up every year after until peaking at a staggering 90 percent.
For many innovative-minded people, becoming an intrapreneur may not only be a responsible career path, one that still offers a sense of control, satisfaction, and ambition attainment. It may be the superior option.
The intrapreneurial path is only accessible if organizations are willing to cultivate it. By now, the financial advantages should be obvious. By funding an intrapreneur’s product, policy, or application, the organization shares in any potential profit, and because the intrapreneur is already an employee, the expense of innovation is likely far less than if the company had to seek it elsewhere.
Today’s employees seek prosocial, meaningful, and innovative careers with a sense of autonomy. It’s simply the popular perception that entrepreneurialism is the only place where such work can be reliably found. If organizations want to tap into this wellspring of talent, they need to provide opportunities for their people to build their capabilities within a culture of immersive learning. They need to pave the way for intrapreneurs.
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