Andy started as an entrepreneur, but after 14 years of learning about everything that can do wrong, getting back to zero, and later selling his second company, he become an intrapreneur.
Not because he chose to, but because after selling his company he suddenly had a boss. This is when his life changed drastically and he realized that being an intrapreneur is a lot harder than being an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur needs to deal with the market and the company, while an intrapreneur also has to deal with the entire organization. An intrapreneur cannot move the organization on a vertical level; he or she cannot choose whom to hire and fire.
Startups don’t carry any luggage with them; they don’t have a big organization on their back which is slowing them down. On the other hand, when a startup fills in a business planning canvas, it’s 100 percent fantasy.
They would love to have channels, clients, etc., but they don’t. The corporation, however, already has all these things. A startup can move faster, but in reality they don’t have 10 million clients like a corporation does. So the trick about intrapreneurship is how do you use those tools that a startup uses to actually go and disrupt your organization?
One of the most important things is: how do you sell intrapreneurship to the organization? If you don’t actually enroll the C-level, you are not going to get far.
Here are some suggestions for how you should be selling to the board:
- You better tell them that intrapreneurship is going to increase the revenue. Put them at ease by telling them that you will have a separate profit & loss statement and a business plan.
- In today’s world you are not going to find the young and excited talents being very interested at your corporation. Most parts of your corporation look very boring to someone coming out of university. When you can say that you have an intrapreneurship program then there is a higher chance that these people will join your organization.
- Having a program like that also provides a competitive edge. If you don’t provide this space to people inside of your organization who want to do something new, you are going to find them working for your competitors. No one is leaving because of intrapreneurship, people are leaving because of lack of intrapreneurship. These people want to build inside of a corporation – so you need to give them the chance to do it.
- Explain that there will still be a stage-gate process, just a better one. The new stage-gate process will be three days to three months and not three years. If you can start organizing things like hackathons then you can start showing results that are provable in a very quick period of time.
Overall, Andy thinks there are just three things any organization can do with intrapreneurship. Suppress it, ignore it all together – or moderate it. Set the rules and incentives, select and support intrapreneurs.
What’s cool about getting intrapreneurship right, is that intrapreneurs do not need to be made. You can train people but you don’t have to. They are already in your corporation waiting to do something.
An important element of getting intrapreneurship right is autonomy. This is one of the reasons why startups are managing to move so fast.
Another crucial element is the acknowledgement of “you’ve done it really well”.
Research shows that serial entrepreneurs are much more successful than first-time entrepreneurs. Why aren’t people thinking of the same thing about intrapreneurs?
A serial intrapreneur is a massive value to the corporation. What usually happens inside of corporations is that somebody finally gets the courage to do a crazy project and then it fails… Then everybody says: “I told you so”. But what should happen is that this person should become a coach, and be encouraged to start another company. After all this person already knows a lot more. This kind of attitude changes the culture of an organization.
And that’s what it comes down to – changing the culture. Andy believes that corporations need to train people and teach the managers to think like investors. Intrapreneurs should go through the same stages of raising money like a startup does.
A manager should act like an investor, and decide if to give a budget to a project.
Even if at some point the investors (AKA: managers) cannot give out money, maybe because it’s the middle of the budget year, they can refer you to other people or free up some marketing budget that can be spent. This is another way in which the culture starts to change.
Andy is a fan of corporate accelerators. They are simply the beginning of corporations building muscle.
In 5 – 10 years from now, business-building departments will exist inside of all successful major corporations.
Corporate accelerator, a lab, or whatever you want to call it, a physical or virtual space, is so important, otherwise you are suppressing or ignoring intrapreneurship. If there is no visible program, the culture of the corporation is not going to change.