Intrapreneurship is not easier or better than entrepreneurship—it’s simply different. Thus, it requires a different perspective and different expectations. Here is a real-world list of what it takes to succeed as an intrapreneur:
A passion to kill the cash cows. The primary purpose of innovation is to create a new product or service that will replace the existing revenue generators of a company. And herein lies the challenge: few people want to kill the cash cows of a company. They’re rather pretend the cow will give milk forever. This simply isn’t the case, so if you don’t kill your cows, someone else will.
An ego-maniac leader. I mean this only in a positive way. Intrapreneurship takes a strong leader because the rest of the company is going to say that the new product or service can’t be done, shouldn’t be done, and customers aren’t asking for it. At the first hint of bad news, the rest of the management team is going to call for the intrapreneurial organization to die first.
Rebooted brains. Basically everything that a large company does is wrong for an intrapreneurial group—especially planning, budgeting, testing, and marketing. The successful intrapreneurial team needs to reboot its brain and use fresh, and often controversial, approaches to building a new product or service.
A separate building.The ideal distance for an intrapreneurial group is greater than one mile but less than ten miles from headquarters. This is because you want to be far enough from management interfering in what you’re doing but close enough to grab resources and people from time to time.
Infected people. To many employees, an intrapreneurial business looks like lots of fun. But this doesn’t qualify them to work in the group. What you want are people who “get” that you’re trying to kill the cash cows, change the world, and make a little history. They may have even lost hope inside the bowels of your large organization and don’t worry about them not having the perfect background.
With these five characteristics, an intrapreneurial effort inside your company is a lot more likely to succeed. It won’t be easy, but maybe some entrepreneurs will look at what you’ve done and be right for once that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.