5 Must-have skills for intrapreneurs


Some people think that by tying a knot around an entrepreneur’s neck and making them commute daily to a fancy office building inhabited by 500+ employees, they will automatically transform into an intrapreneur – this is just shallow thinking.

I’ve seen brilliant entrepreneurs fail at corporate enterprises almost as often as I’ve seen great managers hitting rock bottom at startups. So what makes an entrepreneur succeed in an enterprise? Is it just random or is there a method to the madness?

Checklist of a successful intrapreneur:

1. Know and understand your internal environment

Everyone knows that understanding the economy’s driving forces is essential in creating a successful business, but what is equally important for an intrapreneur is to have sound knowledge of the internal environment. The bottom line is that, as an intrapreneur, you need to figure out stuff like: employee status, corporate culture, management structure, employee behaviour; in order to run successful endeavours.

2. networking, networking, networking

Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs must master this skill. The only difference is that in the intrapreneur’s environment, office politics plays a bigger part. Bottom line: in the corporate environment, you can’t get somewhere without a powerful support network

3. Data before rhetoric

Decisions need to be taken by both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs: kill a project, ask for another $1M, hire talent, stop collaborations, etc. The best way to do it in an ‘office politics’ heavy environment is to go the lean entrepreneur’s way: every decision should be based on concrete and transparent data.

4. Validate before full execution

A successful intrapreneur runs successful projects – it’s as simple as that. From the lean start-up method, an intrapreneur should learn how to test and validate assumptions before diving into execution.

5. Foster a learning culture

This one might sound really abstract and is also rooted into the lean start-up: foster a culture in which learning is highly valued and rewarded.

As you can see, I haven’t mentioned anything about vision, drive to change the status quo, and resilience, because, in my humble opinion, unless you score off the charts in these areas, you can’t even pass the first job interview for a position of intrapreneur.

What other skills and strategies have proven successful in the relentless pursuit of becoming a better intrapreneur? Which one of the 5 above do you consider the most relevant skill? Drop me a comment.


I’m Nick De Mey, founder Board of Innovation and foresight analyst at Venturesight – foresight-backed venture design. Let’s talk!

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