Startups and new generation entrepreneurs are rapidly changing the economy. In order to compete against this change, corporates are reshaping their strategies and developing a new generation programs. One of these new programs is Intrapreneurship programs, which have become rapidly spreading in recent years. Corporates are trying to strengthen their innovative product and service development capabilities by creating a startup culture within themselves through Intrapreneurship.
What is Intrapreneurship and Why is it important?
Intrapreneurship is simply the process of implementing the innovative business ideas of the company’s employees in a way that they are involved as entrepreneurs. With Intrapreneurship programs, corporates both increase the job commitment of their innovative employees and take advantage of the innovative business ideas that will emerge.
In intrapreneurship, various programs are implemented in corporates according to their maturity levels. The first stage of these programs is to gather innovative ideas from employees and to give them some gifts and rewards them. In this way, employees are encouraged to develop innovative ideas and are stimulated by reward as well. (Such as Clorox) Another type of program is internal hackathons. In what we might call a software development competition, employees compete in small groups to develop a new product for the company. Hackathons are carried out with a very busy schedule and a satisfactory reward over a period of several days. (Such as Capital one, Digital Ocean, Trivago, Netflix) The most advanced level of Intrapreneurship programs is to encourage employees to start a start up. In this way, employees commercialize their business ideas with the investment support provided by the company and mostly become entrepreneurs by establishing a separate spin-off company. (Such as Whirlpool, Samsung, Cisco, Ericsson)
How Is intrapreneurship Carried Out?
There are 3 important tactics that companies can implement in order to carry out a successful intrapreneurship practice:
1. Attract and Retain Entrepreneurial-Spirited Employees to Your Company
Big companies compete with each other to provide the best opportunities to acquire or retain talented employees. But the biggest rival of the companies now is the willingness of employees to become entrepreneurs. The new generation employees want to act freely as going to work at any time or working remotely in a café, dressing as they feel comfortable at work, stepping aside when they are asleep and get some rest, playing a little console game when they’re tired of working. Many people turn to entrepreneurship in order to gain this freedom and meet their need to prove themselves. Moreover, with increasing number of startup acceleration programs, incubation centers and investment supports, to start a startup is easier than in the past. Therefore, in order not to lose talented employees to the start-up ecosystem, companies need to satisfy them with intrapreneurship programs in their internal structures.
And who would be an intrapreneur? It is important that the intrapreneur has a personality that wants to change and a character to struggle for it. It’s a huge advantage that he’s set up a startup before. But the important thing is that he’s faced some difficulties in his past and solved them. Examples such as setting up a student club during their student years or selling beverages on the beaches during summer holidays during childhood can be a very important indicator of entrepreneurial competence. Entrepreneurial-spirited employees who own the business as if they own it, enjoy trying the different and new ones, and who are not afraid to take risks, are now the most important capital of companies to bring innovative ideas to the market.
2.Create an Entrepreneurial Culture
Many programs can be designed for intrapreneurship and innovation. But the important thing is to turn static corporate cultures into entrepreneurial culture. Because in order to develop and implement innovative business ideas, an entrepreneurial culture is needed accordingly.
Many large companies attribute their current success and stability to the corporate cultures they have maintained for many years. Therefore, making a change in the corporate culture causes the fear of failure. Entrepreneurial culture, on the other hand, is based on constant change by nature. And everything that hasn’t changed in a long time is being turned against all. It aims to break existing rules. For this reason, the culture of entrepreneurship conflicts with slower corporate cultures, which are trying to protect what exists.
At this point, it is seen clearly that commitment to stable corporate cultures in the face of disruptive technologies and innovative firms has not benefited as much as it used to. In a economy that is constantly changing and the competition is very fierce, an entrepreneurial culture is needed to cope with this.
3. Act with Venture Capital Logic
Intrapreneurship projects can provide many benefits such as elevating employee motivation, improving corporate innovation capability, and increasing the speed of developing new products and services. But the important thing is whether the outputs of the program are worth the investment. For this purpose, intrapreneurship programs should be managed like as a venture capital firm. In this way, the net benefit of the effort that is spent on the company is always prioritized. Otherwise, in the case of intrapreneurship programs, problems may arise both in terms of finding internal resources and gaining employee support, and the sustainability of the program could be jeopardised. Innovative projects naturally involve more risk, and the way to reduce it is to make less cost and more initiatives in less time. Therefore, the feedbacks on investment should be measured continuously and the decision to continue or discontinue should be clearly stated.
In the business world, different programs can gain popularity from time to time. Even if many companies don’t know how useful it will be, they may be deceived by popularity and want to implement these programs in their companies. Intrapreneurship has also gained popularity in recent years, and many companies have quickly implemented these programs. However, programs were abandoned in many companies where the results were not successful. Therefore, before implementing intrapreneurship programs, each company should consider a design according to its needs and take into account the three basic tactics I have listed above, no matter how different a program.