Being your own boss has replaced job security as the ultimate career goal. Where once workers used to aim for predictable hours, steady upward mobility, and a safety net of benefits, it seems like "entrepreneur" is the label everyone is striving towards today. Entrepreneurship is growing rapidly worldwide and is the "number one choice for Canadians who want more out of their careers," according to the GoForth Institute. One-third of Canadians like the idea of being their own boss and one-fifth aspire to "start their own business within five years." This isn't new, though: 1 in 15 working Canadians already own a business and three-quarters of those started that business themselves.
It's easy to get caught up in this entrepreneurial fever, but only 51% of Canadian businesses survive for five years or more. Many factors contribute to business success, including the viability of the product, the size of the market, and financing, but one thing that people often forget to consider before embarking on a venture is whether they're truly cut out from entrepreneurial cloth.
In the 1980's, entrepreneur and management consultant Gifford Pinchot coined the phrase "Intrapreneur," defining it as someone who exercises entrepreneurial practices and values within an existing company. Rather than being the opposite of entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship is a different way of pursuing many of the same goals and achieving many of the same outcomes.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT ENTREPRENEUR
Great entrepreneurs are immensely self-confident and very self-assured. They can see all sides of an issue, but also don't question themselves into inaction. A successful entrepreneur needs to be focused and disciplined, while also being a jack-of-all-trades, able to manage everything from cash flow, to sales, to marketing. Perhaps most important of all, though, a great entrepreneur needs to have a very high tolerance for risk.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT INTRAPRENEUR
Great intrapreneurs exhibit many of the same key characteristics as great entrepreneurs. They are both passionate, determined, courageous, and resourceful, but there are some key differences. Where entrepreneurs are driven to be somewhere else, intrapreneurs are proud to be where they are. They may want to institute change and create growth, but they are comfortable doing it within an existing organization. Intrapreneurs have to be part of a team in order to excel, and are masters of diplomacy. Pushing against the norms while operating within a managerial structure can be tough, but great intrapreneurs are able to balance it with ease.
WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
So which are you? Ask yourself, "what do I value most?" Is it absolutely imperative that you have the title of Founder, or would you rather be a key part of a supportive team? Is being your own boss the only future you can envision for yourself, or are security and stability at the top of your wish list? There are no wrong answers, and it isn't a zero-sum game, but it's important to be honest with yourself about what it is that you want to achieve in your career and whether going out on your own is truly the best way to achieve it.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but anyone with drive and vision can be part of building better products and systems. Just as entrepreneurs build new industries, intrapreneurs reinvent existing ones. Both are innovators, both are creators, and neither can exist without the support and inspiration of the other.