As a daughter of a serial entrepreneur, I have experienced the highs and lows of having it all and losing it all. It’s an incredibly exciting world, with the high-risk high-reward status quo.
I certainly have the entrepreneurial spirit of my father; however I have taken a much more conservative approach to my existence — the intrapreneur existence.
As a result I have focused my energy on strategic thinking and exciting opportunities for existing businesses who pay me a steady wage. So what’s an intrapreneur? Let’s give Wikipedia a go:
“Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization. Intrapreneurship is known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques, that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship.”
Chris Oestereich describes intrapreneurs as “…the people who naturally take a holistic approach to reviewing existing systems as well as to designing new ones.” Chris also explains how the radical of us don’t take no for an answer…“…equipped with the stubborn belief that through a mix of dogged determination and the unrelenting pursuit of ingenuity, they will achieve things most would assume to be impossible.”
I’m not sure I would consider myself a radical intrapreneur. Yes, I’m forever wanting to push boundaries and drive change; however some boundaries I would really only feel comfortable doing with my own money (you know, just in case you send someone else broke).
So here’s the question….when do you go from being an intrapreneur to an entrepreneur?
Well, some people will remain intrapreneurs and they will contribute greatly to the scaleability and innovation mindset of existing businesses. Ideally we want to keep some of these brilliant intrapreneurs in these organisations! Those of us however, who have this urge to try something on our own, will one day take the leap from intrapreneur to entrepreneur — or perhaps we’ll do both :)
The questions then become, how do you take the leap, on what, with whom, and with what goal in mind?
I believe I’m taking a very strange and conservative approach to this. Perhaps to justify potential failure, perhaps to allow myself time to continue throwing myself into other people’s endeavours as well as my own...I’m hoping it’s the third reason however— to delve into research.
My entrepreneurial research project
My husband and I are often brainstorming what we think are some pretty cool and crazy ideas, and I would like to try a startup as a research project.
That is, I would like to have a go at one of our ideas (one we think would simply make our lives better), where we would be happy to invest in the product with or without customer acquisition. We would incorporate all our research and understanding of developing a valuable product and building traction — documenting the experience, capturing the data and reporting on our experiences, emotions and findings. Not sure it’s the cheapest learning curve; however given the amount we paid for our two degrees, at least this PD is a tax deduction!
I’m hoping this research project style approach will allow us to be more objective, look at things more holistically, and focus on following the steps the various books and successful entrepreneurs talk about over and over. As a result, I have started re-reading a number of the ‘must reads’ and will be sharing my major insights from some of them with you shortly.
So which idea do we delve into?
My first idea:
I remember my very first SaaS product idea 7 years ago.
An online wardrobe.
Inspired by the movie Clueless, you could purchase clothes in store or online, and with the barcode information of the item, access the online 3D imagery of that particular piece and hang it in your online cupboard. You would upload your personal photo (whole body) and dimensions, providing you with an on-screen 3D replica of yourself.
Then, swiping your various wardrobe items across the screen onto your 3D on-screen body, you could select the perfect outfit from items you own, or help you select items to purchase via online stores. Sharing your wardrobe with friends would also allow you to swipe through each others’ wardrobes and select what you each wanted to borrow on your next girls night out.
The idea never left the kitchen table.
I was only 21 years old, and assumed my 95% “this is a ridiculous idea” feedback received meant I should think no more about it. It’s still to this day something I would love to have, and today’s technology would make it bloody possible.
When people hear of an abstract idea, often there’s a great deal of question around its potential success. We’ve seen so many successes where people ignore the negative commentary and throw themselves into new opportunities. You can look at the negative commentary and blame them for you not pursuing these; however if you ask me who the ass is, I’ll be looking in the mirror for this one.
One of my husband’s gems:
I remember Tom and one of his colleagues once had an idea around an app for meeting people — you start a conversation with someone and as you engage further, more of their image is revealed. A few months later Tinder came out — a simple swipe right/left on an image before a conversation starts…. certainly less friction and in line with mainstream thought processes; however I love the blindfold removal gamification idea they left in the bar.
They say no idea is a first idea anymore….so hopefully there are some wonderful people out there building me my online wardrobe!
Both of these ideas are a little too in-depth for our interest in a basic research project though; so I think we’ll look to some of our simpler MVP potentials bubbling up…more to come here :)
Are you an intrapreneur or entrapreneur?
Did you take the big leap?