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Entrepreneur vs. Intrapreneur | What's the Difference?

In this article, we will discuss what an Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur are, and the difference between the two.

Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship may sound similar, but both have different implications for a business. Although, individuals that fall into either category may see a crossover in work ethic, the drive to innovate, and a passion to drive things forward.

The two concepts are related, but there are some key differences between them. If you are ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, then read on!

What’s an Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is someone who starts a business to provide a product or service, bearing the necessary risks of failure. In all cases, it’s about following a passion, self-driven motivation, and wanting to build a business with a product or service that will not only be profitable but also something that brings value to a market.

And it truly is about having conviction in what you’re building, even if it means turning down a traditional job or way of life in order to stay focused on your business idea. There are thousands of stories you can find of successful businesses, some Fortune 500, that all started around an idea, and an entrepreneur pursuing it.

Jeff Bezos, Founder and Executive Chairman of Amazon, once stated that "Entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time."

Before Amazon became that multi-billion dollar company you know today, it started as a virtual bookstore. Bezos quit his job in order to pursue this. Was there risk involved? Absolutely. Was there an idea that he saw potential in that could turn profits, but also add additional value to the market? Correct. Is Jeff Bezos considered an entrepreneur? 100%.

This is just one, and a rather famous, example of what entrepreneurship is. You have an idea, and you have the passion and foresight to see it through. Truly, there is risk involved in any business or market. Though in entrepreneurship, it is usually an individual assuming those risks and providing the original foundation of assets and funding.

What’s an Intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is someone that is taking on an entrepreneur-type role in an existing organization and uses their knowledge and skills to develop new products or services. Being an intrapreneur tends to be safer, as there is an organization typically backing your ideas and projects.

One classic example of this is Google, which implemented a rule that employees could use 20% of their time developing new ideas that can help the company. This is an idea that has been directly emulated in other companies.

Simply put, intrapreneurship is a way of working so that employees within your company are encouraged to come up with new ideas and solutions to the problems they face. This can often be much more beneficial than putting a lot of time into planning an elaborate outsourced strategy that ties up company resources or keeping company strategies at an executive level.

Differences Between Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the act of taking an idea and forming a business around it, taking the necessary risks to make it happen.

Intrapreneurship is the act of performing entrepreneurship inside an existing organization, where employees lead new initiatives and processes that push the company forward.

Unlike entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs don't necessarily need to start from scratch. Instead, these employees use what they already know about the company's industry and what others do well to develop new ideas that could help make it better.

In theory, this means that intrapreneurs can come up with innovations faster than entrepreneurs who might take years before finding a way to build and fund something valuable for customers.

Both are creating innovative solutions, but intrapreneurship is inside an existing organization, while entrepreneurship forms a new business in pursuit of their innovative product or service.

Why You Should Invest In An Intrapreneurship Culture

There are many benefits to working at an intrapreneurial-driven company. Most of the world's biggest brands invest heavily into their culture and principles that foster growth in employees and their ideas.

Some of the world's most popular products, such as the Playstation, happened at the intrapreneurial level. Ken Kutaragi, who at the time was an engineer for Sony, created the Playstation.

The idea was originally dismissed by top executives, but as you may know, Kutaragi eventually got Sony's buy-in. And the results are history. That was thanks to Sony's CEO Norio Ohga, who believed in Kutaragi's idea and encouraged him to keep going. If Ohga would have shut down the idea, Sony would have missed out on creating one of the most influential gaming systems of all time that forever stamped Sony's name on the video game industry.

Kutaragi went on to be the CEO and President of Sony Computer Entertainment from 1997 to 2007. That's the power of intrapreneurship!

Image by Sameli

What other ideas are there to be found in employees of existing companies? When you create a passionate and purpose-driven culture inside your workplace that grants trust and freedom to employees, intrapreneurs will gravitate toward your company. You can count on it!

Plus, intrapreneurs are passionate and seek to make systems and processes better by nature. Having them in your company is a no-brainer.

What To Know About Starting In Entrepreneurship?

There are a few things that are necessary for entrepreneurship. It’s important to have the confidence in yourself and your idea that entrepreneurship requires, as well as the willpower not to give up on your business idea. It won't be easy.

The great Steve Jobs once said, "I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the nonsuccessful ones is pure perseverance." Focus on the word 'perseverance'. You can connect the dots between Bezos' words of advice with Jobs'.

Not everyone will believe in your idea. Some will believe you are investing too much into it, making you think the risks you are inheriting with this idea are far greater than the reward. With perseverance and the necessary drive to bring your idea to market, you can accomplish the goal you set out to achieve.

Being an entrepreneur means being able to keep a long-term view of your business intact, as well. If you don't see a roadmap of where it is going, it's hard to make the right decisions early on. Be sure to lay out your plan in great detail. That will help guide your newfound business in the right direction, which is the direction that you see right now, that others may not.


Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are similar in a lot of ways, but those key differences we discussed will help you easily separate the two.

Both are drivers that seek to provide more efficient systems, operations, products, or whatever the scenario may be. The world would certainly be in a different place without either entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs.

What are some of your favorite companies that started with an entrepreneur? Are there any other products, like the Playstation, that changed the game thanks to an intrapreneur?

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