Social Entrepreneurship Not Quite Right for You? Make an Impact as an Intrapreneur Instead!


What does it mean to be an intrapreneur? You are probably already familiar with the concept of an “entrepreneur”.  Intrapreneurs have the same attributes, but apply them within an already-existing organization (whether for-profit or nonprofit). The trend towards acting as an entrepreneur without starting a new business is on the rise, so much so that Forbes contributor Dan Shwabel suggests redefining the term. Any employee who sees a new opportunity within the organization (to do better work and/or make a positive impact on the world) and pursues it is taking an entrepreneurial stance. Within organizations, the trend has been to call this type of individual an “intrapreneur”.

What does this mean for you? Take a look at the characteristics that define this savvy and plucky type of employee. You may be surprised to see several blazing similarities to traits you possess. Has anyone ever commented on your:

  • knack for identifying needs and developing creative solutions
  • ability to innovate and foster the implementation of ideas
  • propensity to challenge the status quo
  • ownership of your work
  • leadership, resilience, adaptability, ability to take risks
  • sense of passion and purpose (particularly towards social impact)

If this sounds like you, you might be acting like an intrapreneur at work and not even realize it. As this clip from Net Impact suggests, even spearheading your organization’s efforts towards two-sided printing can qualify as intrapreneurship.

Did you know there is even a League of Intrapreneurs? While the organization focuses on big business, the concepts apply to non-profits as well. At your organization, you can make a difference and solve problems using your intrapreneurial skills. In this YouTube clip Gib Bulloch, a social intrapreneur behind Accenture Development Partnerships, defines social intrepreneurship as “a behavior and a mindset rather than a set of criteria…an idea that won’t go away…and you feel so strongly about the opportunity that you have to do something about it.” Sounding familiar? Start planting seeds for your own intrapreneurial revolution. What can you do today that can put your idea into motion?

Take a look from the opposite angle as well- how are organizations using start-up strategy and engaging their intrapreneurs? How can you stand out in your organization as an intrapreneur who can propel those strategies into action?

For guidance on bringing your intrapreneurial idea to life, check out The Intrapreneur’s Playbook. What change would you like to bring about at your organization? What are your first steps? 

Have you taken on an intrapreneurial project at work? We want to hear from you! Contact us to share your story with Idealist Careers. 

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About Author

Throughout my 15+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to achievement. As Audience Development and Content Manager at Idealist for our online publication, Idealist Careers, I bring relevant tips to today's social impact job seekers and career changers with sensitivity towards the challenges they face. I also am the writer of our career advice column, "Ask Victoria". Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I share with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Have a question? Ask at Follow me on Twitter @_AskVictoria.

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