Intrapreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship

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  • 0:04 What Is an Entrepreneur?
  • 1:05 What is an Intrapreneur?
  • 2:10 Similarities and Differences
  • 4:27 Lesson Summaries
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Intrapreneurshuip is an up-and-coming career path, but what exactly does it mean? What is the difference between an intrapreneur and an entrepreneur? This lesson will take a look at the similarities and differences between them.

What Is an Entrepreneur?

Let's say someone wants to open a bookstore in a college town that meets the students' needs by being open 24 hours a day and having a coffee shop and cafe. The person who thinks of and then opens such a store is an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur is someone who has created a business or idea from the ground up. They alone make the decisions for the creation and execution of that business, and they make the proceeds from it as well. If you were the one opening the college-town bookstore, you would be responsible for going to the bank with the plan in hand, asking for a business loan. You would then need to find a suitable space for the business, hire the employees, buy the books and other products, even come up with the recipes for the meals that will be served in the cafe. Once the business is up and running, you can chose to run and manage it yourself or hire someone to do this for you. No matter how you execute it, you will make all the money that comes in from the book and food purchases, and must pay your staff and bills yourself. These are all the kinds of things you do as an entrepreneur.

What Is an Intrapreneur?

Although the name is similar to entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship is very different. An intrapreneur is hired into a company to execute the responsibilities of an entrepreneur, but at the request of the business. In other words, the intrapreneur may be employed to open a business, market a product, or even create a new and innovative business model, but all as an employee of the umbrella company.

For example: Think about a company that sells coffee, teas, and other beverages in a cafe setting. The cafe would like to add to its market share, or delve into other markets altogether. To do this, the company could pull in an intrapreneur to look into new businesses that could be created from the original cafe model. The intrapreneur might decide that the smoothies created at the current cafe have great potential, and create a new business model for a smoothie shop, done in a cafe style. This idea would then be shown to the executives for approval. If the new idea is approved, the intrapreneur can work with the parent company to ask for funds and make plans for staffing, building needs, and creation.

Similarities and Differences

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs both operate from the same basic mindset: They are innovators and creators of new ideas and products. Both positions suit people who like to take the lead and are independent thinkers and workers.

Since both intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship appeal to those who want to start new businesses, choosing between the two is a matter of deciding what foundation or framework you need to produce your best work. The main difference has to do with risk taking. An intrapreneur does not have to take the same personal risks as an entrepreneur. They can learn the ropes and become creative and innovative, but within a safer and more controlled framework. An entrepreneur is willing to take a leap - and a financial risk - to create a new business.

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