The term “intrapreneurs” describes employees of a corporation tasked with behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. Sounds difficult? It is if you desire to create a stand-alone entity meant to serve an entire industry and not just your employer. Corporate innovation teams typically consist of two types of employees: Those that are interested in eventually venturing out on their own to create a company and those that want to remain an employee of the company and avoid the risks of entrepreneurship. It’s important for employees to remember that upon employment in most organizations, you sign away your rights to hold ownership of any IP (intellectual property) created while employed. In fact, everything you create is owned by your employer.
Unfortunately, having the cushioning of the corporation backing you doesn’t provide the authentic experience of entrepreneurship. It’s almost like role-playing without experiencing the risks (or returns) of operating as a real startup company. While these programs are surfacing in corporations worldwide, it’s essential to point out a few things:
1) Experienced entrepreneurs are necessary components of any internal entrepreneurial efforts to provide candid information and feedback to intrapreneurs and corporate innovation teams. What seems feasible in theory does not typically equate to real-world success and experienced entrepreneurs can help you avoid the pitfalls to ensure you make the best use of your resources.
2) The startup curriculum used for training teams shouldn’t only include The Lean Startup book by Eric Ries and The Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder. While both resources provide the foundational thinking for pursuing an innovative idea while minimizing waste of valuable resources, there’s so much more to the equation. Customer discovery? Customer development? Sales funnels? Digital marketing? Hiring employees? Revenue engine optimization?
3) Innovation teams must focus on their industry as a whole, not just their employer’s business. Impactful companies must disrupt and transform industries, not only one company.
If I Don’t Quit I Can’t Commit
It’s commendable that large corporations have begun to generate new business ideas through the ingenuity of their employees; it’s even more important to help the employees see these ideas through to fruition. But, without specific derisking measures in place, very few employees will ever leave their jobs to bring an idea to that marketplace. Building a company requires 100% commitment; therefore, working full-time for the corporation will hinder expedient progress of your startup. It’s not to say that many people work on their startup outside of work, however, expect increased stress, lack of sleep, and imbalance to accompany such decision.
Questions Intrapreneurs Should Ask Their Employers
Here are some questions employees should consider when becoming an intrapreneur:
1) Will the corporation provide a curriculum for you to learn about entrepreneurship and the startup processor will you need to find your resources?
2) Will the corporation financially back the startup, or will it be a nice exercise for professional development?
3) Will the corporation include the innovation into their existing business, or will the prototype (and intellectual property) sit on the shelf?
4) Will the corporation support the employee working full-time on the startup company or cease paying a salary once the revenues permit it?
5) Will the corporation provide internal resources to the employee-founded startup, or will the founder have to go out and hire people?
6) Will the corporation provide access and introductions to resources, entrepreneur mentors, and customers to enable the startup to gain traction and minimize risk?
It's important for employees to remember that upon employment in most organizations, you sign away your rights to hold ownership of any IP (intellectual property) created while employed. Click To Tweet
Startup Curriculum Is The Core of Any Successful Program
TPM Focus provides a startup curriculum for corporate innovation teams, incubators, accelerators, and business development centers around the country. The curriculum includes a combination of online coursework, live online lectures, case studies, and exercises for each learner. To ensure engagement and ongoing progress of every individual, we offer a tempo of deliverables and deadlines right away to set action and a results-oriented tone. Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint at heart and thus requires a sense of urgency and commitment to be successful. Our curriculum prepares entrepreneurs for their journey, and it’s the core of many successful programs. If your organization is interested in learning more, contact us today.