Monday, 15 april 2019 | Redacción CEU
They clock in when they arrive and leave the office as the rest of the workers, are paid at the end of the month and do not occupy the highest position in the hierarchy of the organization, but they are entrepreneurs. How is it possible? As a general rule, entrepreneurs are identified as those professionals who create the business from nothing, but this activity does not meet only to a restricted and narrow vision. Over the last few years, work models as well as professionals have evolved. The trend towards internal entrepreneurship is a proof of this change. Why do employees bet on new projects and businesses within companies? What benefits does intrapreneurship have for companies and professionals? Is it possible to earn money as an inside entrepreneur?
According to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, "undertaking" means to carry out and start a work, a business, a commitment, especially if they involve difficulty and danger. This definition does not mention at any time that this activity has to be carried out under the umbrella of a company. However, in our collective imagination entrepreneurs keep working on their own. The truth is that there are different ways of entrepreneurship, and one of them is doing it within a firm.
The internal entrepreneurship is born from a different approach of workers. Intrapreneurs are not only able to identify a business opportunity within the company, but also to dedicate work and energy to achieve this goal. These are professionals with a great capacity for leadership and creative skills who stand out for their communicative, organizational and proactive abilities. The risks they take are fewer than those taken by conventional entrepreneurs, as they carry out their ideas within firms which are already well-established. However, they also face great challenges and obstacles. Their professional development depends on the environment to a great extent. Without its support, they will not be able to start up their initiatives and develop their full potential.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor project, the average age of entrepreneurs in Spain is 38 years, being 60% of them men. The young talent community TRIVU claims that, within the group of young people under 30 years, 35% are interested in starting their own business. In fact, among the respondents, just 6% see themselves as employees in a startup in 10 years. However, we must take into account that creating this type of company is still more complicated in Spain than in other countries.
Another factor which is relevant is that great ideas often arise within specific fields as a result of experience and observation. In other words, entrepreneurship requires both a deep knowledge of the business and the sector. Some authors like Malcolm Gladwell defend the theory of 10,000 hours, according to which to reach excellence in a discipline is necessary to accumulate that amount of practical hours. Whether this thesis is right or not, it is important to point out that there seems to be a correlation between practical experience and success.
There are professionals who are very good at launching new projects and ideas within the company, but who do not feel comfortable in a different type of entrepreneurial activity (and vice versa). Engaging in entrepreneurship within a familiar and well-known ecosystem provides an extra confidence to this type of professionals. On the other hand, intrapreneurship also serves as an effective alternative for them to acquire the necessary knowledge to start their own business later.
Since companies emerge from the energy and determination of entrepreneurs, internal entrepreneurs can give a strong boost to the growth of organizations. Firms can greatly benefit from having this kind of profiles which are willing to look for innovative and creative solutions. However, to do so they need to be open to intrapreneurship. This implies being aware of the fact that the best ideas are not always found in the management offices. Therefore, it is necessary for companies to develop an active listening capacity, be able to assess divergent opinions and open spaces in which communication does not only circulates in a unique direction.
On many occasions, intrapreneurs face professional jealousy. If there is no corporate culture based on innovation and creativity in the company, workers may frown on these professionals. Their entrepreneurial drive may also find a brake on the lack of support from the organization, either due to the absence of resources or to the existence of obstacles in the activity. In turn, the added value they bring to the company must be rewarded in some way. This is not just a matter of economic compensation, but of appraising work and valuing professionals. If companies do not take care of their talent, sooner or later they will end up losing it.
One of the common questions it comes up when addressing the issue of internal entrepreneurship is whether it is profitable to undertake a business within an organization. Logically, independent entrepreneurs have a much higher profit margin, but, on the other hand, they do not have a protection network. Whenever the organization knows how to value and reward the work of internal entrepreneurs, their effort and energy will not fall on deaf ears.
In today's business environment, excellence and innovation are two fundamental pillars of organizational transformation. The CEU IAM Business School has designed a Master's Degree in Human Resources, Talent Management and Leadership which is focused on keys such as talent, leadership, innovation, people management and networking, and that responds to the demand of the sector for more qualified professionals. It is a Master's Degree that applies a blended-learning methodology with a current and practical approach so that the training can be applied from the first day.