There is a growing trend in the business world of a new and unique type of entrepreneur. These individuals may never have run their own independent organization, but they are exceptionally skilled at navigating the waters within your company. Dubbed “intrapreneurs”, these professionals have gained the skills necessary to meet and often exceed expectations by applying the techniques and methods of entrepreneurship to innovate your company as opposed to striking out on their own.


Intrapreneurs behave and plan as though they have an ownership stake in the business, but they may not be compensated beyond their existing income. So what sets an individual apart as an intrapreneur? Furthermore, how do you recognize and continue to develop the characteristics that have served your budding intrapreneurs so well already? There are 5 essential characteristics to any intrapreneur, and developing these characteristics is a surefire way to improve the overall health of your business now and in the future.


  1. Money Is Not Their Endgame

One of the most common shared characteristics of intrapreneurs is their recognition of the concept that money is not the be-all, end-all of any business endeavor. Obviously, they are working for money and most likely recognize both its importance and value as an economic driver and a resource that leads to success. Where they differentiate themselves is that they put the work in and apply themselves in such a way as to demonstrate that they are indispensable. This proves a sharp contrast with many non-intrapreneurs who are always looking to showcase the non-economic value they believe they add, as opposed to actually demonstrating the economic contribution of their work.


  1. Self-Motivation Is A Core Value

It is rare for an intrapreneur to wait around to be told what to do: they find things that need doing and get them done. They come in every day to a list of what needs to be accomplished, and before they leave they have tomorrow’s list ready to go. They possess intrinsic motivation to succeed, and they generally need very little in the way of supervision or direction. They embrace the challenge of innovation and the creativity necessary to execute.


  1. Possess Extraordinary Creativity

In addition to being highly motivated, intrapreneurs love to suggest new ideas and help develop ideas contributed by others. There is nothing they love more than being a part of creating something different, compelling, and innovative. Not only do they delight in creating new ideas and concepts, but they also delight in the hard work that makes those nebulous abstracts into concrete reality.  It is not uncommon for intrapreneurs to learn new skills or tools that will enable them to more effectively develop these creative ideas (at times learning externally).


  1. Masters of Balancing Multiple Projects Simultaneously

A defining characteristic of intrapreneurs is the ability to be intellectually and organizationally “light on their feet”. They know how to prioritize various tasks without assistance, and they are experts at keeping things moving on multiple lines of thought through multiple protocols and processes that govern their responsibilities and projects. They are on their “A” game at all times when it comes to keeping everything working at maximum efficiency and efficacy.  This is especially important if innovating falls outside of their normal duties or they have been given this responsibility as a stretch assignment.


  1. Understand the Value of Failure

Similar to entrepreneurship, bouncing back fast from a misstep in judgment or a bad call on a decision is at the heart of intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurs can assess what went wrong objectively, accept their responsibility for their part in the failure, and then get back to work making it right. Rarely does an intrapreneur meet with a setback they cannot recover and learn from independently. However, it is imperative for an organization to recognize the risks taken by these individuals and reward rather than penalize the endeavor.


Final Thoughts

Identifying the intrapreneurs in your company is key to your organization’s long-term health and success. Find and develop your people who are treating their work like their personal success depends on it, and help shape them into the intrapreneurs that will secure your company’s future.


Are you identifying these “intrapreneurs” within your organization?

Are you giving them the skills needed for them to innovate?

Are your processes and systems geared to impede them or propel them?

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