5 Tips for fostering intrapreneurs

The word "genius" under a lit light bulb signifying a good idea.

Intrapreneurship can be stressful for employees, especially when they are taking a creative leap without knowing whether or not they will be successful. They have their own reputation, and that of their employer, to consider. While their successes will be widely acknowledged, the inverse holds true as well. That means that if their ideas fail, they will also be responsible. Employees have a position to uphold. No one wants to take a risk, even with the best of intentions, and then end up losing their job, so the intrapreneurial enterprise will make it easy and safe for staffers to take calculated risks.

Here are five ways to do that:

1. Share the equity

If you want to promote intrapreneurship, you might want to consider giving all employees an ownership stake in the business. When employees own even a few shares of the business, they:

○ Become very invested in the success of the company

○ Become more entrepreneur than employee

○ Think of work as something more than just a place to draw a salary

Studies show that employees who have a financial stake in the business are more conscientious, harder working, and happier. They will likely be even more passionate about the project that they have launched and more motivated to ensure it is successful.

Depending on the type of business you have, there are many different ways to cut the equity pie, but whatever way an owner chooses, it is true that he or she will be giving up part of their equity in the business to create the employee ownership plan. The benefit, of course, is that they would be able to attract the best and the brightest of employees and create an incredibly motivated, dedicated workforce in the process, which helps create an even bigger and better business.

2. Give people a green light

Providing employees with the time and resources they need is crucial, but they also must believe that they can successfully navigate through your company’s formalities. Often those with intrapreneurial leanings are afraid to try out their ideas because they anticipate too many roadblocks. Employees need to know that they will have a level of autonomy and that middle and senior management will be receptive to ideas. When an employee shares their big idea and plans, managers must listen.

So you have to keep the pipeline open to new ideas. If possible, go ahead and streamline your system so that you encourage employees to share their best ideas. After all, who knows various facets of a company better than the employees? They likely see things about the inner workings of the company that those in management may easily overlook. As a result, employees are the perfect people to draw on for ideas for improvements and innovations.

3. Have fun

Anything that can be done in the spirit of fun can reap big rewards. Creative thinking workshops or classes can get employees’ juices flowing. Some companies use a suggestion box and offer a prize to those who come up with the best ideas. Encourage those people from other departments to work together to come up with concepts and plans.

4. Recognise them

When good ideas are generated, it is important to follow up. Employees should see that their ideas are valued and being acted upon. A company looking to encourage intrapreneurship should try to implement all great ideas and give credit where credit is due.

5. Reward them financially

Nothing talks like money. If you want your people to act entrepreneurially, then reward them accordingly.

This is an edited extract from Planet Entrepreneur: The World Entrepreneurship Forum’s Guide to Business Success Around the World, published by Wiley, RRP £16.99

About the authors

Steven D. Strauss, often called “America’s leading small business expert,” is an internationally recognised author, lawyer, and speaker. His USA Today column is one of the most highly syndicated business columns in the world. The author of fifteen books, including The Small Business Bible, he is also the President of The Strauss Group, Inc., a multi-media content creation business. For more information, visit www.TheSelfEmployed.com.