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The Force of Intrapreneurship and How to Nurture it Within Your Company

Entrepreneurship is a tough road. One of the toughest. The risk, the change, the volatility—it’s not for everyone, in spite of the benefits. Even the most creative minds might feel more at home in the comfort of a larger company, free to hone their professional skills without the worries that come with being an entrepreneur. However, knowledge workers in particular thrive when given room to breathe. The freedom to pursue new and innovative ideas empowers creativity and risk-taking while helping your employees avoid burnout.

Luckily, there’s a solution that marries these ideas: intrapreneurship. An intrapreneur is an employee who behaves like an entrepreneur within a larger company.

I’ve written before about how vital innovation is to the culture here at PGi. I believe strongly in the connection between innovative ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit, and fostering intrapreneurship within your company can be the key to unlocking your employees’ potential.

Here are some tips to nurturing your own intrapreneurs:

Define Expectations

The most famous example of the intrapreneurship concept is Google’s 20% time (even if its future is uncertain). Google famously allows its employees 20% of their week to pursue their own projects. This policy has created some of their most successful projects, such as Gmail. Even if a 20% time model isn’t right for your company, if you want to nurture your creative minds, you need to establish some expectations for what is and is not appropriate.

When creating these expectations, tailor them to your company’s culture. Too much oversight can stifle risk-taking, but if your employees are accustomed to structure, consider taking a more organized approach.

Spread the Word

Innovative, game-changing ideas don’t just come from management or people with traditionally creative roles. The beauty of nurturing intrapreneurship in your company is that it gives everyone in your company a voice and a stake in your company’s next big idea.

[Tweet “…if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. ~Jamie Paolinetti”]

Buy-in can be slow, however. You don’t want to force anything, but you do want to extend this freedom to everyone. Get your management and business leaders on board and consider organizing an internal communications campaign to encourage involvement.

Provide a Place to Play

Within a larger organization, it’s important to give your employees a place where they feel free and comfortable to brainstorm and be creative. If your company thrives on hierarchy and process, it might take some additional encouragement for your knowledge workers to break out of their molds.

A social business platform like Jive is perfect for this problem. Employees can pursue their ideas within their own private documents or you can set up dedicated brainstorming sections or “innovation areas” where your workers can collaborate together.

I firmly believe that the pursuit of these ideas can be transformational to your business and to your employees. And I put my money where my mouth is: iMeet was born of a mixture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

free ebook rectangle orangeFor more insights on the future of business innovation and collaboration, download PGi’s free eBook today.

For more thoughts on leadership and innovation, be sure and follow me on Twitter.

Photo Credit: ecphaff

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