Few entrepreneurs are ready for the challenges that lay ahead when working for themselves. There’s a lot you need to know. The last thing most experienced entrepreneurs want to do is hold your hand either. That is unless you decide to embrace a role as an intrapreneur.
The beauty of working inside a company is that those skilled in the art of business willingly teach those who work for them. Rather than being a punk kid trying to make their own way running on free advice, you become a participant in their company’s ultimate success.
It’s an ingenious idea really — glad I thought of it!
If you’ve failed as an entrepreneur, stepping back as an intrapreneur for a bit may hold the key to your eventual success. Even if you’re just considering to start your own business, the lessons this important role can teach you are indispensable.
1. An intrapreneurship is a “paid” education.
How many colleges out there actually pay their students to attend class? I can confidently guess there isn’t a single one in existence. Much like a plumber or electrician serves a paid apprenticeship, you can get paid to learn how to be successful in business.
It might seem like you’re holding yourself back from your eventual goal at first, but intrapreneurship will teach you the “right” and “wrong” things to do when running a business. Don’t count the (time) expense you’ll spend as an intrapreneur. The time you end up saving when you actually launch your next/first business will be so worth it.
2. Being an intrapreneur forces you to learn responsibility.
There are a lot of reasons initial entrepreneurship fails. One big reason is a lack of accountability. Lots of young entrepreneurs spend too many late nights partying, and too many early mornings sleeping. Then, they wake up a year or two after launch and realize the well’s run dry and there’s nothing left to salvage.
Successful entrepreneurs — founders, CEOs, upper managers — are fierce due to years of being responsible for their successes and the success of others. By putting yourself in a position where others are watching over you, you get to learn whether you really have the drive to do it on your own.
3. Intrapreneurship offers the opportunity for low-stress networking.
One of the toughest jobs in the world is that of a fledgling salesperson who has no idea how to start uncomfortable conversations. Lack of networking skills is right up at the top of reasons why entrepreneurs fail initially.
Working for someone else puts you in a situation where you’ll have no choice but to strike up conversations with personalities that would normally alienate or intimidate you. Consider this practice time, where you get a primer in the psychology 101 of the business world.
4. Less financial risk starting a business as an “employed” intrapreneur.
In other words, when it comes time to launch that business, you have a stable income to back your play. “Sink or swim” may work for some people, but not all. When your back is up against the wall as an entrepreneur, the financial burden can make for too much stress.
Stress that leads you to make impulsive, emotional decisions that kill the business. A stable income, while you work part-time to grow a new business, allows you to be just a little less emotionally-invested — scared — and look at things analytically.
5. Intrapreneurship offers insights into how incremental efforts add up to big results.
The final big lesson intrapreneurship teaches about running a business is how the little efforts compound — Ie., what happens at the finish line. A struggling entrepreneur will often find it hard to envision what happens when they go above an beyond for a client. Especially when going WAY above and beyond.
Or, for example, that running lead-gen on Adwords for $X,000 dollars once in a while will result in six-figure profits at the end of a year or two. Working for someone else who’s already killing it can show you how little and even big efforts can produce massive results that far outweigh their cost.
Never give up on your dreams of running a business of your own. At the same time, don’t spend countless days and years in the trenches when you can learn quick and valuable lessons working for someone else. Spending your time as an intrapreneur/wantrepreneur will make you a better entrepreneur in the end.
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