No entrepreneur? Consider being an intrapreneur

Last updated 05:00 27/07/2014

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OPINION: I'm all for owning your own business and following your passion - that's what I've done over the past several years and I have loved every minute of it.

Working for yourself has so many pros. You choose the direction (well, your customers dictate it a little bit), you choose your hours (well, your customers dictate that a little too, and you end up working far more in the early days than if you were working for someone else), you are in charge of the culture of your company, the vision and at the end of the day, the rewards are yours. you, which can't be undervalued.

But owning a business isn't for everybody. For every successful New Zealand company, there is one that has folded or is about to. Some business owners constantly feel like they're one day away from closing their doors - and that's a lot of stress. For some people - and the stage of life you're at, ie having young dependents - being an entrepreneur isn't the best choice. Instead, you'd be better off being an intrapreneur.

It's about acting in entrepreneurial spirit but for somebody else's company. You work for someone else but act as though you own the company, using initiative, big picture thinking, focusing on small details and doing everything in your means to add to the bottom line.

Why would you do all that for someone else? Because working for someone else means you still get to learn - you get room to make mistakes (small mistakes), shadow those more experienced and basically try new ways of things on someone else's dime. You also get paid. Regularly and without the need to chase up invoices.

Attack your job like an intrapreneur and you'll soon rise close to the top. A good employer will recognise your value to their company and help you stay motivated and happy. This may include extra training (at their cost), secondments, stock options or permission to follow a project of your choice. You still feel like you are making a difference and adding value to a company. It goes without saying that being an intrapreneur means far less risk for you than there would be in owning a business.

Who knows, you may even get eight hours of sleep.

For those who have their own business, finding an intrapreneur to work for you is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How do you recognise one? A successful intrapreneur will be ambitious; they'll crave success and be results driven.

They'll be humble enough to admit that they're excited by the opportunity to work under or alongside talented individuals, in order to learn from them and bounce ideas off them.

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I read a recent quote by American fashion designer Tory Burch who said, "Even if you're not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do. If you view each stop as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience."

Business owners: find those intrapreneurs to hire in your company, they will change your life.

Zac de Silva is a business coach,

- Sunday Star Times

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