Channeling your inner entrepreneur

How to ignite your “intrapreneur” for explosive career success

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Last month’s “Fast Track” explored five steps to achieve your biggest goal in 100 days. I have some big goals for 2016, including continuing to build the audience for my podcast, Growth Bomb, and adding emerging leaders to my exclusive Growth Bomb Elite community.

In order to achieve these goals, a lot of time was spent at the end of 2015 surveying members of my target audience, professionals ages 25–35 who are committed to bringing their career, business, and life to the next level of success. To determine their biggest needs and to provide them with the most value, one of the questions was, “What are you most interested in?” Possible answers included entrepreneurship, a corporate career, or a mix of both.

Their answers were interesting. The largest group, 45%, was interested in a mix of both, followed by entrepreneurship, 29%, and corporate career, 18%. Nine percent had no idea. After mulling the results, the responses from my millennial audience made sense. In this era, being an “entrepreneur” is as trendy as being a Kardashian. Wherever you look, you can see another story about a young millionaire or why it might be worth foregoing college to start your own business and enjoy a life of financial freedom. It seems that everyone, especially people in the formative stages of their careers, is bombarded with reasons to consider entrepreneurship.

However, as appealing as the promise of future entrepreneurial success is, there is still a harsh reality that exists. Millennials are the most formally educated generation in history, and they have the crushing college debt to prove it. For this and other reasons, including risk aversion and a lack of practical business training, jumping into entrepreneurship isn’t as easy as the media makes it sound. Although entrepreneurship is still appealing to the majority of millennials, it may not be in the traditional “build a startup” sense.

This presents an exciting new opportunity for both millennials and their employers. The term “intrapreneur” has been coined to describe when individuals have the opportunity to behave like an entrepreneur while still working within a larger organization. When companies create a culture of intrapreneurship it provides massive benefits for both the organization and its employees. Examples of companies that have successfully adopted the intrapreneurship model include big names such as Xerox, 3M, and Microsoft.



This culture leads to increased innovation, higher productivity, and increased employee satisfaction — to name a few benefits. As an employee, you get more flexibility and influence within your organization while gaining skills that will be extremely valuable if you ever chose to take the full leap into entrepreneurship. Here are three action steps you can take as an employer or employee to spark your inner “intrapreneurs.”

  1. As a business, empower your staff members to take control of their own professional development, training, and career. As a team member, look for and ask for support with opportunities to grow skill sets you are passionate about — an online class, a conference, or an association membership.
  2. Create an environment in which employees will feel comfortable suggesting improvements or exploring new ideas or internal projects. As an employee, look for ways in which your organization can be improved. Taking the lead on an innovative new project that benefits the company is a win-win scenario that helps that organization and gives you the opportunity to assume a leadership role, improve your skills, and gain positive exposure.
  3. As an employer, be transparent about sharing company goals and values. As an employee, understand organizational goals and use them as a framework to provide additional value.

Do you consider yourself an “intrapreneur?” Do you work for a business organization that promotes a culture of “intrapreneurship?” I’d love to hear what’s working well and where you’re struggling. Send me a message at

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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