What Is the Difference Between Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship?
So, now you have a better understanding of intrapreneurship, let’s take a deep dive into how it differs from entrepreneurship to find the right approach for your business:
While most entrepreneurs rely on pure grit and determination to reach their goals, an intrapreneur’s targets are typically set by senior mentors.
As an employee of a company, intrapreneurs don’t have complete autonomy over how they work or what they work on. Their ultimate goal is to reach milestones and meet business outcomes.
Entrepreneurs only have themselves to hold accountable if they miss their goals — even if it takes a lifetime to get there.
Take Elon Musk, for example. In 2002, Musk set out on his ambitious plan to put humans on Mars. Eighteen years later, SpaceX announced plans to launch one-hundred humans to the red planet in 2024.
Access to Resources
While great ideas are almost exclusively involved in collaboration, the environment within which this occurs differs between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.
Working within a large corporation versus building a stand-alone venture means intrapreneurs have access to extensive networks and resources.
Being ‘out in the wild’ means entrepreneurs rely on personal networks and brand equity to forge their own path. In comparison, the breadth of resources available to an intrapreneur provides a ready-made highway to the top.
On the flip side, some entrepreneurs enjoy not having to contend with managing stakeholders, convincing investors, and mediating competing agendas.
Risk-taking is all in a day’s work for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. However, the types of risks they take can differ dramatically.
Ambitious entrepreneurs put themselves in an incredibly vulnerable position when taking-on established competitors. Whether it’s quitting the day job or gambling with their life savings, entrepreneurship is inherently risky.
Entrepreneurs have a reputation to uphold as they’re directly responsible for their actions.
An intrapreneur still has some risk as a failed venture could damage their personal brand within the company or industry. However, there’s a less financial risk as they’ll still receive their salary.
Progressive organisations are using creative compensation models to mimic equity ownership and encourage risk-taking.
Did you know that 60% of entrepreneurs fail in their first five years of trading?
The size and value of a large company can stunt the creative flow of an intrapreneur. Every decision must reflect the company as a whole, not just an individual’s maverick ideas.
Fear of failure means intrapreneurs don’t have the luxury to learn from repeated mistakes. When things don’t go to plan, the consequences aren’t isolated to the individual.
In comparison, entrepreneurs are solely responsible for their failure. While it still poses a threat to the individual, entrepreneurs are responsible for their fate.
That said, corporations are slowly understanding the need to give intrapreneurs a wide berth. If they never experience failure, they’re probably too conservative.
While a single month of poor sales can be game over for entrepreneurs, established organisations have a financial safety net to encourage risky behaviour.
Intrapreneurship promotes experimental ideas. Whether it’s Google’s failed Project Glass or Amazon pulling the plug on their innovative solution to shopping, not all ventures succeed.
For entrepreneurs, failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Companies can learn from failure to understand what their customers want and stretch the boundaries of what’s possible.
As sci-fi author, Arthur C. Clarke once wrote: “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”