(As published in the Sunday Star Times, July 27, 2014: www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/10310134/No-entrepreneur-Consider-being-an-intrapreneur)
Read any self-help or coaching book and at some point it will tell you to follow your heart and go for it in business. Reach for the stars! Go hard or go home! Don’t dream it, do it! Many people follow this advice each year and start up their own business. They have a vision they want to see completed, they don’t want to work for anyone else and they want to make their mark on the world, in the way and style they want to. Go the Kiwi entrepreneur! I have many of these entrepreneurs as my Business Changing clients and I love their drive and passion and constant strive to make their business bigger and better and improve their industry as a whole.
I’m all for owning your own business and following your passion – that’s what I’ve done over the past six or so years and I have loved every minute of it. Working for yourself has so many pros. You choose the direction (well, your customers dictate it a little bit), you choose your hours (well, your customers dictate that a little too, and you end up working far more in the early days than if you were working for someone else!), you are in charge of the culture of your company, the vision and at the end of the day, the rewards are yours. You get to chase what is important to you, which can’t be undervalued.
Owning your own business isn’t for everybody. For every successful NZ company, there is one that’s folded or is about to. You may have your own company, but for all the stress and hours it only just makes enough money to keep going. Some business owners constantly feel like they’re one day away from closing their doors – and that’s a lot of stress to live under. For some people – and the stage of life you’re at, ie having young dependents – being an entrepreneur isn’t the best choice. Instead, you’d be better of being an intrapreneur. A what?! I know – I saw that word this morning and instantly loved it. It’s about acting in entrepreneurial spirit but for somebody else’s company.
You work for someone else but act as though you own the company, using initiative, big picture thinking, focusing on small details and doing everything in your means to add to the bottom line in a positive way.
Why would you do all that for someone else? Because working for someone else means you still get to learn – you get room to make mistakes, shadow those more experienced or knowledgeable and basically try new ways of things on someone else’s dime. You also get paid. Regularly and without the need to quibble over pay rates or having to chase up invoices.
Attack your job like an intrapreneur and you’ll soon rise close to the top. A good employer will recognise your value to their company and help you stay motivated and happy within the company. This may include extra training (at their cost), secondments, stock options or permission to follow a project of your choice. You still feel like you are making a difference and adding value to a company and community. It goes without saying that being an intrapreneur means far less risk for you than there would be in owning a business. Who knows, you may even get eight hours of sleep a night working for someone else!
For those who own their own business, finding an intrapreneur to work for you is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How do you recognise one? A successful intrapreneur will be ambitious; they’ll crave success and be results driven. They’ll see every job as a career, not a job. They’ll be humble enough to admit that they’re excited by the opportunity work under or alongside talented individuals, in order to learn from them and bounce ideas off them. This also means they’re willing to start near the bottom and work their way up.
I read a recent quote by fashion designer Tory Burch who said, “Even if you’re not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do. If you view each stop as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience.”
So if your business has folded or you’re struggling with it or you are impatient to get started on it but uncertain if now is the right time, become an intrapreneur instead and make the most of each opportunity to learn and develop. And business owners: find those intrapreneurs to hire in your company!
Or see me for business coaching! Zac@businesschanging.com