Entrepreneurs vs Intrapreneurs: Charting the Path to Success for Business Leaders

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By Jacob Maslow

When looking for the path to success in business, it can often seem like so much depends on the choices available to you and the choices others make for you. 

But arguably, the most important thing you can understand if you want to succeed as a business leader is knowing what you want for yourself. If you enter a place of work or start launching your own company without knowing what you want, you will never get anywhere.

If you are someone who considers yourself to be a self-starter, then you will already have one leg up on a lot of people. You have the kind of personality that can take charge of a situation, identify opportunities and capitalize on them, and have the confidence to see a project through from beginning to end. 

Many associate these qualities with being an entrepreneur, but they are just as crucial for intrapreneurs. If you are unfamiliar with these terms or are considering which of the two paths is suitable, let’s break it down.

What Is An Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is someone who starts their own business from scratch. That means they have the idea for a company, create a business plan, find the financing from investors, and not only see it through to the launch but run things from then on. 

An entrepreneur is responsible for everything from market research to hiring additional personnel once the business is up and running. 

What Is An Intrapreneur?

While an entrepreneur works outside of any system, building something entirely on their own, an intrapreneur is, as the name suggests, someone who works from the inside. 

Typically, someone within an established company sets up an arm or project that is not directly related to the central business. 

What Does An Entrepreneur Need?

Entrepreneurs need a lot of different qualities if they want to be a success. They will need to have the grit and determination to get a business off the ground without having a more significant business’s support. 

They will need to not only be able to research their direct competitors to see if there is a gap in the market, but they will also need to understand the broader market. 

Given how competitive things are out there right now and how many small businesses have been having a tough time, this is not something that can be overlooked. 

Entrepreneurs need to be a leader as they are the ones who must dictate the vision for their company, and they need to be able to either manage every single element of it or find people who can. 

Finally, entrepreneurs need to be happy to work on their own.

What Does An Intrapreneur Need?

An intrapreneur needs to have the same level of creative vision as an entrepreneur but must be comfortable operating in a very different context. 

While an entrepreneur plots a bold vision for the future based on their concept and builds something from the ground up, an intrapreneur envisions a new course for an established company. They need to be able to consider everything that their business already does and think about where they could branch into. 

They also need to be much more comfortable working with others. While an entrepreneur will bring on new team members as and when required, an intrapreneur will work with a team of colleagues and report on their progress to their employers. 

They still need to feel comfortable branching out on their own, but they must remember that this is not the money they are playing with. 

Typically, an intrapreneur has already been with the company for a long time, and their employers feel he has earned the opportunity to take some big swings on their behalf. 

However, sometimes an entrepreneur may be brought into a company precisely because they want to take advantage of their experience and use it within their framework. 

Which Path Is Right For Me?

Whether you would be better exploring your opportunities as an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur comes down to what you are looking for in terms of your working experience and rewards. 

As an intrapreneur, it is essential to remember that your efforts will be on behalf of a giant corporation. Even if it is a project you create entirely by yourself and build from the ground up, you will still be answering to someone else and sharing the fruits of your labor with them. 

However, you will also benefit from the support and stability that comes with that experience.

As an entrepreneur, you will have near-total independence. Of course, once you bring investors on board,, there will always be terms and conditions, but when you succeed, you will succeed on your own. You will dictate everything from profit sharing and company cars to the hours of the day you work and the clothes you wear. 


While there are many similarities between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, several key differences will make a tremendous difference if you are thinking about which is the best path to success for you. 

It is essential to consider the level of personal risk you would incur if you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, especially with the market as unstable as it is now. 

On the other hand, the freedom to create a business that is truly yours is worth the risk for a lot of people out there. Looking at the latest market trends before making any major decision is always a good idea. 


What is the difference between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs?

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs may have similar characteristics but differ in their goals. Entrepreneurs establish businesses and assume the risks and rewards associated with them. They typically create products or services to fill a need, often relying on their risk-taking abilities and resources.

Intrapreneurs, on the other hand, often act like entrepreneurs in an established organization, taking the initiative and creating value for the organization. Intrapreneurs typically focus on innovation and development within the confines of an existing company.

Do intrapreneurs become entrepreneurs?

Yes, intrapreneurs can become entrepreneurs. Intrapreneurs are often highly motivated and have the skills necessary to pursue their projects and ideas. They may gain valuable experience within a company that allows them to build their entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and networks.

What are 3 characteristics of an intrapreneur?

The three main characteristics of an intrapreneur are 1) risk-taking ability, 2) creativity and innovation, and 3) passion and motivation.

What is an example of an intrapreneur?

One example of an intrapreneur is Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. While at a Wall Street investment firm, he identified the potential of online retail and took the risk of leaving his job to pursue the idea. He then developed a revolutionary business model that has become one of the largest companies in the world.

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