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What Do Intrapreneurs Do, and What Skills Do They Need?
What are intrapreneurs? What talents or abilities do they need?
While an entrepreneur assumes his own risk for a big idea he may have and may work to establish it as a business or enterprise, an intrapreneur may use the same kinds of skills to make an idea work within a big corporation, without assuming the personal risk an entrepreneur may have to. Often such a person is assigned to develop his idea in the same way an entrepreneur would. The big difference is his company puts adequate resources at his disposal so he can make his idea work.
Some of the skills needed by such a person include an extensive knowledge of the company he works for, the willingness to change things, and the ability to be diplomatic. Necessary skills will be explored in more detail in this article.
Examples of intrapreneurs include Don Estridge, who while he was working for IMB, worked on his idea of a personal computer, and James Gosling, Patrick Naughton, and other engineers for Sun Microsystems, who while playing Nintendo, created a new computer language called Java.
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An Intrapreneur Must Have a Dream
An intrapreneur must have a dream and must be willing to work to see his dream become a reality. Remember, an entrepreneur has to assume all the risk and expense of working to see his dream become a reality. On the other hand, an intrapreneur will have a company behind him, providing the financial and other backing he needs to see his dream become a reality. He just has to convince those in charge that his dream is realistic and would benefit the corporation.
Where would society be today if not for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to come up with the ideas for things we take for granted, such as personal computers, cell phones, cars, planes, and video games?
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Those Who Hope to Change Their Companies Must be Innovators
If someone hopes to be an intrapreneur, he must be an innovator. He must be creative. He has to have the ability to work within an organization's framework. He might be the person who sees a need when nobody else can.
At one time, who would have believed the American public needed personal computers in their home? Now how many people do not think they could do without one, whether it is just to surf the web for fun, play games, do banking online, pay bills, earn money through various means, book hotel rooms or airline flights, or for many other reasons?
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Such a Person Must be a Visionary Leader
Those who want to change their companies so dramatically need to be able to see the things the way they will be after their innovations come to pass, even though they have yet to do so. An intrapreneur must see how his company, and even society, will benefit from what he will bring to pass. He or she needs to be willing to work against all odds and overcome any obstacle to see his dream made a reality. He needs to not only be a visionary, but also a leader, as he shares his ideas with others.
To be a visionary leader one must also know his company well. He needs to know how it works, and needs to understand the corporate environment in which he works.
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He Must Be Willing to Change the Status Quo
A lot of people don't like change. An intrapreneur should understand this. He needs to be able to communicate effectively to demonstrate to others how well his idea will work, and that's not all. Nobody can do everything alone, so he needs to be able to develop an effective team with others who can help him. To do all this, he will have to work with various cross functional teams. He also has to be able to develop a network of professional support.
To change the status quo, he will have to work well and communicate well with those on the outside as well, when that is necessary. If his corporation is so large it seems like a maze, he will have to be able to find his way through it to get everything done.
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An Intrapreneur Must Believe in His Dream
An intrapreneur must believe in his dream, even if others don't. Even if people tell him his plan won't work, he has to know it will and be able to convince others he knows what he's doing. He has to even convince them to help him.
To see his dream become reality, an intrapreneur must be willing to work well with a team. He must listen to the ideas of others and evaluate whether or not they would work. Even though he believes in his idea, he should be willing to change it, if necessary.
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Be Highly Motivated & Create Motivation in Others
One who wants to change his company must be able to motivate others well. An intrapreneur should be able to inspire them with his ideas so they will want to hear all he has to say. To do this he should be willing to listen to others and to adapt their ideas if they will work, but be diplomatic in explaining why they will not, if that is the case.
To motivate others, an intrapreneur will, naturally, have to be highly motivated himself. He will have to believe in his ideas. He must believe in his ideas so much that he is not afraid of failure.
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An Intrapreneur Must Not Try to Take All the Credit for Himself
An intrapreneur should not take all the credit for successfully completing a project. Everyone who worked on his idea should feel like a hero after an intrapreneur's idea has come to pass. He should share credit with others and form a group of people he trusts to work with him on his ideas. In fact, an intrapreneur should encourage teamwork.
All the while, those working on an innovation should have the customer in mind for the corporation they work for. An intrapreneur especially needs to be focused on the consumer.
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Work Within the System & Work Hard
Anybody who wants to accomplish anything new and innovative for the company should be able to work within the rules of the company. He or she should be able to work well with top management and keep such people informed of progress on his project. Management, in fact, should approve his ideas.
You will need to have patience and work hard at getting your point across to get the approval needed. An intrapreneur should have a great deal of energy, as he will have to work many hours to see his dream become a reality.
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Do You Have the Skill Sets Necessary to be an Intrapreneur?
Do you have intrapreneur skill sets? If you do, your company, and society as a whole, may benefit from your ideas. Nobody would have ever flown to the moon, if the Wright brothers hadn't worked on making the first airplane.
Image Source: "Crystal Project computer ," Everaldo Coelho, Wikimedia Commons, under GNU Lesser General Public License
Image Source, "Full Moon Luc Viatour," Luc Viatour, Wikimedia commons, under GNU Free Documentation License
"Intrapreneur," author unknown, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/intrapreneur.asp
"Reinventing the intrapreneur," by Dean Takahashi, http://www.utdallas.edu/~chasteen/Reinventing%20the%20intrapreneur.htm
"Do You Have the Skills to be a Successful Intrapreneur?" (Corporate Entrepreneur)," author unknown, http://www.careerwomaninc.com/blog/?p=1811