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Entrepreneur vs. Intrapreneur

Eric Ries' book The Lean Start-Up is an excellent read for anyone interested in becoming more of an entrepreneur or intrapreneur. The reason I say OR because often people confuse the two terms to be interchangeable but the truth is that they are in fact different.


In the first section of the book, VISION, intrapreneurs are described as entrepreneurs who operate inside an established organization. So, these individuals aren't necessarily creating start-ups from the ground up, but are re-creating, improving, and making an impact in a business/department that already exists. Personally, Ries' description of the two really made a light switch turn on for me. I don't think that I necessarily fall into the entrepreneur category, but more in the intrapreneur one. I want to make my department and college as a whole better by sharing and implementing new ideas and concepts. Being able to keep innovation at the forefront of what I do and how I make decisions and work to influence others is going to be very important to me moving forward.


Being an intrapreneur in higher education there are different kinds of barriers sometimes, like not having the authority to call the shots and make swift changes or being able to change the existing culture easily. Because you are trying to create change from the inside out you must learn how to balance respecting the current boundaries while trying to expand them. A large takeaway for me while reading The Lean Start-Up has been remembering to measure productivity differently and being able to adjust to the feedback coming in from your market, whatever that may be. In higher education, we can get caught up in the semester cycles and day-in-day-out to-do lists and Eric has sparked a reminder in me to continue to ask why we do what we do and how to make it better.


So what about you? What do you see yourself as...an entrepreneur or intrapreneur?


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