Studies show that 15 million Americans are self-employed full-time and that an estimated 27 million Americans will transition from the traditional workforce to full-time entrepreneurship by 2020. Additionally, it is asserted that entrepreneurs are 125% more successful if they have previously been employed in the industry in which they presently do business. This is all great news on many levels.
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are considering transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, or perhaps you have already made the shift. I get it. I am one of the millions who has made the switch – trading stability and comfort for passion and freedom. However, if you are a potential full-time entrepreneur, there are many things to consider before making the leap.
How will I support myself and my family in the initial stages of development? What do I do if I fail? How do I maintain the drive needed to make a business successful? How will my business harness the creativity and innovation required to thrive in the marketplace? These are all valid questions and should be considered deeply.
If only there were a training ground to test your management capabilities, gain knowledge, think innovatively and be solution-focused. But, wait, there is. Your current employment can offer these opportunities and more – through intrapreneurship.
By definition, an intrapreneur is an employee of a company who has adopted an entrepreneurial mindset. Intrapreneurs are highly motivated self-starters and innovative, solution-driven thought leaders, who work within an organization. Because of this definition, acting in an intrapreneurial capacity in your current place of employment makes a great deal of sense when considering the move to self-employment. You can use your current employment status as a testing ground for where you want to be.
Here are four reasons why intrapreneurship can work for you:
1. See a problem. Solve a problem
All businesses should be designed to fulfill a need. Just as your own business should be able to justify its existence in the marketplace, initiatives within an organization should do the same. Closely examine processes and products in your place of employment. Determine what could be executed more productively. Alternatively, design a new initiative to creatively meet and exceed customer expectations. Acting in this manner will prepare you for building the structure and mission of your own business.
2. Creatively capitalize on skills and talents gained outside your employer
In many instances, we separate business from personal, and there are many good reasons for this approach. However, there are notable skills and talents used in your personal life that are transferable to the workplace. For example, if you engage in team sports, use your team building skills and charisma to involve your colleagues in projects.
If you love to read fiction books, integrate the creativity of the stories to bend the thinking of traditional methods of operation. The possibilities are many. Business owners rely on all life experiences, directly or tangentially related, for the benefit of their enterprises.
3. Intrapreneurship is for all employment levels
If you think intrapreneurship is only for c-suite executives, think again. Intrapreneurship is for the mailroom to the boardroom. As noted in the definition, intrapreneurship is about being a self-starter. You do not need permission from anyone to be highly motivated. Just as all parts of our bodies have a function, so do all positions in an organization. Even if you feel your position has no purpose in your organization, make one. We all have to start somewhere in our entrepreneurial journeys, so start right now, where you are.
4. Experiencing failure is inevitable. Move forward anyway.
All of us will experience failure at some point and multiple times as well. Failure will happen regardless if you remain employed or set out on our own. Be bold enough to move forward with establishing your voice and your place anyway. Business and life are about forward movement. Decide now what next step you will take if you fail. There is always a path forward. Get used to the possibility of your ideas being rejected and your designs being flawed now, so when you are a full-time entrepreneur, you will know how to advance.
Whether you are at the infancy stages of developing your own business, currently self-employed or even wish to remain an employee, establishing yourself as an initiator and innovator can reap many benefits for you and your company. That is the beauty of it.