Foto by:
Daria Nepriakhina

I was first introduced to the "Intrapreneur" concept last year, and although it's been here longer, I had never heard of it before. The moment I heard of it I realized it was a perfect definition for those of us who have that entrepreneur spirit but still enjoy, and even thrive while working as part of someone else's team.

A few years back from today, I thought I was an entrepreneur just because I didn't resonate with many employees. I didn't want to specialize in one area only. I loved statistics, I loved creative thinking, I loved strategy, I loved creating marketing plans, I loved branding, and I loved customer service... So why should I specialize in any of those? Did I need to sacrifice all of the other fields in order to be successful? After all, I had always heard that "specialization is the key to success"... I felt doomed, overwhelmed and lost.

Then I discovered entrepreneurship and my hopes were raised. It meant having the chance to do anything I loved and to sell it applying all of my marketing skills. In short, I could do it all.

I soon discovered an opportunity for which I had the solution for many people's problem. Where I lived, no one did what I knew best how to do and many needed professional marketing and branding; and so, I started my own Digital Marketing Agency, started selling and doing everything I loved doing. I embarked on the entrepreneur's adventure. Sales soon started showing up, income was great, things were looking good because I had control of everything and success depended on me and only me.

Soon enough, I started systemizing my business. I had a lot of work to do: I was doing client work, and systemizing my business, and customer service, and design, and programming, and strategies... Suddenly I realized, and I asked myself “why am I taking all this challenge for? Who cares? And it shocked me “No one cares what I do”

My business started going down because my interest was dropping, the service wasn't at its best, and I wasn't motivated to sell more, I didn't want to pay for help because it meant earning less, I was collapsing, working day and night for something that was making me feel lonelier than ever before. Soon I recognized that I didn't have the entrepreneurial spirit. But why? What happened? Was I in the wrong business?

I loved challenges, I loved working at my own pace, I loved solving problems, I loved the pressure, I loved figuring out how to make things work, I loved creating processes and making ideas come to life... what was the problem?

Then this was the beginning of a very frustrating journey: I thought I was in the wrong business. Maybe I could start selling something else? Maybe services weren't my thing, what product can I sell? I've always read that online businesses are THE thing.

So I decided to do some research, and I began to ask myself: is this product selling well? What do statistics say? No, wait! This looks better... and on and on...

I started that vicious circle MANY of us have been on. Considering every single product on the planet. Blaming it on the product, and you know what happened?

N o t h i n g...

The products were definitely not the problem, the problem was I and only I. I finally accepted that I needed a bigger guidance, even though I know I am great at solving problems at a self-paced environment, I still need that motivation to be part of something greater, to follow and respond to. I needed that special commitment that could keep me on track. But how would this be possible?

My mind started the search. Trying to recall every time I had thrived at anything. And as it always does, the right thought came to me. I realized my best version of any career or personal path I had ever created,

Any real success I had ever achieved had always been while being part of someone else's team.

It all started when I was a swimmer. I did my best records during relay races vs solo races. Later on, I did my best college presentations when I was leading or part of a team. My top-national-mark in triathlon? When the whole team relied on me to position ourselves as a top team in the country. My best sales? While working for someone else. My best strategy? While doing someone else's project.

That meant something, didn't it?

So was I right for a full-time job after all? But how could this be? How could I do that now? I wasn't specialized enough...

Yes... I was back there...

I was convinced that I wanted to be part of a team. Except now I had a huge problem: I wasn't competitive enough because my experience was all over the place. How could I do everything I knew how to do if the jobs ask for one specific thing only? Was I really going to have to pick one and only one?

If only they knew how many problems I could solve in a company! If only I could show them.

I have always believed that working is about generating growth, taking risks, solving problems. The only thing I can't do is be an employee that goes to work to complete a task and go home. I am not like that!

I want the company to grow! No matter what it takes! I want to marry a company and dedicate my all to it. I'm not there for the money or to justify that I have a job. I'm there to create something special, to make a mark through a product that I can fall in love with and to become the company itself. I am there to solve problems, whatever they are, whatever it takes.

Therefore, like most things that are meant-to-be, I encountered the intrapreneur concept at just the right time. An intrapreneur, according to its core definition it is

“The act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization... intrapreneurship refers to employee initiatives in organizations to undertake something new, without being asked to do so."

So what are some of the characteristics of Entrepreneurship?

First, I think anyone can be an Entrepreneur for the simple fact that we are ALL unique and we all have something special and unique that we can sell/do for the world.

I actually think this is one of the main reasons why many of us have struggled at some point of our lives because we know deep down that we're supposed to do something special in this world, which brings us to believe that we need to create our "own thing" and decide for ourselves how to do it, when to do it and whom to do it for.

In addition, to some extent, this is all true. However, entrepreneurship is not the only way to achieve this. We CAN offer something unique in this world, leave a special mark, attend a special target, WHILE we work for someone else. And there are many ways.

A true entrepreneur, I think, has the following characteristics:

Vs the intrapreneur

You see, I thought I had all of these characteristics, and I probably do, but then I discovered what an intrapreneur has one unique quality that sets you apart from an entrepreneur:

This is where we intrapreneurs differ from entrepreneurs. We thrive when others expect or even challenge us to reach something. We care more about our team that the goal or problems itself. We push our limits further when we are expected to do something. We give our all when we are relied on, not when we set our own limits. Don't get me wrong, I truly believe this is something you could manage and work-around as an entrepreneur, if you already have a business, you could do everything you do for the team you've built and your audience/market. I believe this is possible, and I believe many have done so.

I was lucky enough to find out for myself soon enough and start my career as a dedicated intrapreneur, so I can thrive while helping a business thrive in the following years of my professional life.

I finish this story by saying that now I work at a company where I work directly with the CEO. We usually do brainstorming together and we are both in charge of making it happen. I never wait for him to tell me what to do. I know that it is my job to figure it out and get creative if needed. He only needs to guide me on a specific problem or goal and the rest is on me. It is absolutely a win-win situation: he is not alone, he has someone he can truly rely on, and I can do what I love the most: dedicate my mind and energy to figure out a way to solve problems and reach goals no matter what. I love having new projects every week and not having to do one specific task. Yet, to have to create tasks for myself because I know that by doing so, I will help the business.

I am now free from that constant indecision of not knowing what business should I be doing, what big opportunity I'm missing out on, what kind of company do I have/want or how will I ever make it on my own.

The moment I discovered I was an intrapreneur, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I now know I can focus on what I'm best at which is figuring out how to make a company thrive.

And who knows, maybe in the future I'll go back to be an entrepreneur, for now, I think I am better off being an intrapreneur and working for a company with all that I have.

Would love to hear from you!

Do you relate? Are you an "In" or an "En" trepreneur?


read other posts