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Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Mind By Becoming An Intrapreneur

By: Guest | July 18, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by JK Allen.

I’m an entrepreneur. My business is “me” and my client is my employer.

As entrepreneurs, we are often challenged with less-than-ideal situations and we find ways to turn them into opportunities or learning experiences. Over the last year or two, my heart has been consumed with the idea of being self-employed again which has led me to despise my job.

As you can see, this is less than ideal. But I’ve turned it into a learning experience.

Many of my online friends who I find to be powerful business people have shown a great amount of appreciation for how I manage my career like a business. No one has been more vocal about this than John Falchetto. But I’ve also gained support from class acts such as Marcus Sheridan and Danny Brown.

Thanks to them, I’m changing my attitude. An entrepreneur at heart can still fulfill their hunger right in middle of having a corporate job (or any less than ideal situation) if one is willing to become an intrapreneur, or someone who uses their entrepreneurial spirit inside a company.

My new-found appreciation for my job has led me to identify many positive benefits that are helping me prepare for the move to running my own business.

Three Ways to Become An Intrapreneur

  1. The training ground. I’ve been with some organizations that “play” business more than “do” business, however, working in the corporate structure has been a fabulous school. My job has served as my lab where I test ways to improve my skill set and improve my business acumen. Not only do I learn, but I can also apply and test theories with very little risk. Imagine that, I’m my own case study. And to top it off, I’ve been paid to receive tens of thousands of dollars worth of business training over the years!
  2. The great reality check. Chances are, if you can’t perform at a high-level in a structured, corporate environment, then there is a significant chance you won’t have the discipline to perform in a highly unstructured, self-employed one. I’ve learned that I have the chops to do so, which has boosted my confidence in my abilities, but equally importantly; it has made me aware of my weaknesses.
  3. The network. One of the greatest benefits of working in the corporate world (depending on your level/position) is having access to high-profile contacts. I work with enterprise accounts where some of my contacts sit at an executive level. It’s a wonderful place to learn from great minds, and to market myself.

So there you have it! How in the world could I not feel extremely fortunate to have such a setup? Sure, it’s not the ideal entrepreneurial journey…but I’m making the best of it!

I’d love to hear about your transition from corporate to self-employed. Or, if you juggle both, how it works for you?

Jk Allen is the mind behind The Hustler’s Notebook where he writes about personal development for business and life from the angle of a hustler (in the most positive way).

60 comments
MARLdblE
MARLdblE

Hey @Jk Allen !

I think you make a very valid point in #2 that I resisted at first read. I resisted it, because personally, I don't think that your performance level in a corporate setting is indicative of your entrepreneurial ability. After considering it for a moment, however, I do agree that having to "submit" to corporate structures and juggling the many inter-personal factors that go into being a high performer do carry over very well for anyone pursuing self-employment. Great food for thought, Jk!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Wanted to read, RT and run but have to comment. This. #2 - I am fighting that everyday, not everything is by choice. We do what we can given our options and taking a long hard look at reality is part of it. For all the perks being self-employed has, I see the benefits of the other side, the challenges of doing it all and not focusing just on the core. Reality rears its sometimes ugly head. Thanks for this sir, nice to see you hear.

svilardo2
svilardo2

Awesome post JK. I especially liked this part "Thanks to them, I’m changing my attitude. An entrepreneur at heart can still fulfill their hunger right in middle of having a corporate job (or any less than ideal situation) if one is willing to become an intrapreneur, or someone who uses their entrepreneurial spirit inside a company."

I like the word intrapreneur. It describes, to a tee, what we should be, especially when we have not yet left our corporate jobs. I worked in government purchasing for 3 years before I left my job to start Prolific Studios and during that time I learned as much as I could about business in general. I spent time testing out ways of dealing with vendors and clients as well as spending as much time as I could in the accounting and HR departments to see how they function as a whole. Not only that, but I love seeing the big picture and if I can relate the simple tasks I was doing over the span of the whole company I could really get behind what I had to do.

Basically, my job became my unofficial MBA training. Not only did I watch what effect my actions had on sales, but I also played a role in our IT department beta testing new software and helping them fine tune our systems.

Loving where your thought process is going JK. Looking forward to your next post!

JohnSherry
JohnSherry

Hey JK, had to follow the fab fella over for this stimulating post. I quit paid employment six years ago to 'go it on my own' and that can be a big leap (of faith) as there's no-one to write the checks anymore. But, if it's worth it to a person then it's worth doing.

To answer your question about the transition, I jumped into working in a field that was a passion and a pain. A passion for me as I read about it, talked about it, spent my spare time in it, and breathed it, and a pain for all my friends and contacts for the same reason as I was forever banging on about it. But, when I chose to work for myself in that industry, everyone thought it a great idea and I had a ready made network of support and referrals. So, if you want to do the same unlock some of your joys and interests as you will also unlock all your personal enthusiasm and determination and bring a whole lot of people with you.

And if you're feeling it....then go do it. There may never be a better time!

RyanBiddulph
RyanBiddulph

Hi Jk,

Excellent example here. Love the term "intrapreneur."

It reminds me of The Science of Getting Rich. Wattles said do what you can, where you are. Apply success conscious principles in your current job, and eventually your specific acts bring the entrepreneurial venture you want, to you.

I applied a few success principles in my corporate jobs. Some, not so much ;) I learned, however, that karma is always in effect so as I matured I tried to do things in a certain way to bring success, no matter where I worked.

Thanks for sharing your entrepreneurial mindset with us Jk.

Ryan

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Great to see you here, Jk! As always, I love hearing your perspective and watching you "hustle". Can't wait to see what you do next and I for one think you're setting an amazing example for folks out there who think that just because they're in a corporate environment, they are unable to have the entrepreneurial mindset. I think you also give a great example of how you make your environment work for YOU and use it as your own personal lab!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I love this post. I spent 14 years working in the corp world before setting out on my own. I was lucky. I have at least some experience to tons of experience in every aspect of business except account, though I do have a finance degree, and HR. I have also had as customers clients in every industrial type of business except mining as well as manufacturing. I have seen the good the bad and the ugly from the companies I worked for and my customers. It really helped my growth.

Now I am 'learning' a lot of lessons which I couldn't learn working for a corporation. It's great to know Quality Assurance and Inventory Management and Sales. But not great not having the $$ resources I need to seriously grow my business. It takes a lot of focus and perseverance. Oh and no health insurance!

I think what you have going in admirable and if @Danny Brown @Marcus_Sheridan and @John Falchetto have your back you have a mini-A team of support. Thanks for sharing JK!

Ryan Critchett
Ryan Critchett

Nice man. I've really been thinking about what you've been saying about this, and simply put, you have the right attitude. That matters a lot. EVERYTHING seems to have it's substance based on what you're doing with it in your head. Lots of respect J.K.

I've been in that position, and trying to look at it from that frame helped me tremendously. Right now, I'm juggling a 3/4's kind of solo position and starting a company of my own. I do contract IT work (and no, I'm not a hitman. I got out of the military in 08!), which allows me to run my own schedule and work on my terms. In the mean time, and in between, I've recently started consulting local companies on social business strategy.

It's a tough thing, especially because having multiple missions in life requires multiple mental missiles firing off simultaneously, which can sometimes render you ineffective. Eating right, exercising like a freak, taking unplug breaks and never sitting down without an objective really helps me.

Great post, love where you're at man and look forward to hearing more about your journey.

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

JK, I love the three points and the perspective. One thing I would add that is another great benefit of working in or with a larger corporate entity is the perspective you get on organizational decision making and organizational politics. I've seen so many people opine on what Company X should do with social media, and its obvious they have little concept of the differing regulatory, legal, and organizational issues that play a part in the decision making of many companies.

Love the outlook! Hope you can absorb everything possible out of the experience.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hey there Jk,

I love how you've positioned yourself, and how you offer advice for others on doing the same. Many people would never correlate a career position with an entrepreneurial one. But guess what? Either or can prepare you for the other. Then it's just gravy. :)

Cheers, sir, great to see you at Gini's house.

Lori
Lori

Hey Jk, I think it's awesome the way you reframe your job and glean all the value from it. The way you look at things can make all the difference.

I've never really been in a regular job unless you count four months in a card shop and working for my Dad when I was young. One thing I always wondered about; what is it like to know how much money you'll have at the end of the week?! LOL Just one more perk from working in a corporate setting, I think.

Lori

MADphilips
MADphilips

Really, we all at some point my find ourselves within the corporate ranks and that doesn't hinder the spirit of business in us. Ideally this is the essence of working in a great organization because they give you the autonomy to express your creativity.

The most important thing in my view is this; employee or entrepreneur, are you making a positive contribution with your uniqueness as a person?

This is what counts in the end, the context in which we do this is really immaterial, except if the job is not giving you the room to do this.

JK, you've found your way within the corporate ranks and you are making a difference. The day you decide to become a full time entrepreneur would not be because you haven't been one, it will be because you want to do more great work!

keep it up.

Frank-A Spark Starts
Frank-A Spark Starts

Jk,

I haven't made the jump into the self employment realm as of yet but you have forever changed the way that I view my corporate employment. I have never thought to use the current environment as a training ground to prepare myself for being in business for myself. Living in this light has given me a much needed change in perspective and motivated me to find avenues which I may be missing with my current situation. This is the greatest opportunity to learn how to manage the business that really matters, which is ME. I need to manage my career like my business. I love it.

KenMueller
KenMueller

My self-employment was somewhat forced on me, over time, due to being cutback from full-time to part-time, and then a year later, being fully laid off. Fortunately, I did just what you said. I used my skills internally to help my company out. When I was cut back to 20 hours a week, I had the good fortune in timing to have someone come to me and ask to be my client. So I launched my business part time, while still working for my former employer. I was then able to build a client base which helped soften the blow of being laid off completely. Now, I'm happier than I've ever been, even if my boss is kind of a jerk at times.

TheJackB
TheJackB

I think that sometimes it is easier for salespeople to move into entrepreneurial positions than for others. When you have had to hustle to make a buck it is natural to keep hustling.

I am not saying that others don't hustle because they do, but if you haven't had to do it the transition can be harder.

lchristiemympds
lchristiemympds

Hi Jk your on the money here, I like the point about the training ground it take's a keen eye to recognize the subtle Benefits and opportunities one has

bdorman264
bdorman264

PS - Now that you are rich and famous and on the speaking tour promoting your book; don't forget you have some comments in that raggedy ass site you call home waiting on replies....................just sayin'.........................:)

bdorman264
bdorman264

Mr JK, good to see you at Lisa & Gini's place today. You are a very wise man in realizing you can be your own business w/in a business; essentially your Me, Inc. Regardless if you stay corporate or go solo, you are learning valuable lessons on what it takes to get the job done. It also allows you to see the dynamics of a corporate environment so if you are on the outside looking in, you will have a better feel for the dynamics, personalities and use that to work to your strengths.

Whereas I'm corporate, I essentially work for myself. I definitely have to define my Me, Inc and how I project that to the public and the team I work with w/in the walls of @lanierupshaw I'm in sales, 100% commission, no guaranteed paycheck nor two paychecks ever being the same...........ever............It is real easy to guage my success or progress; we are the only ones who have their 'batting averages' posted on the board for all to see. Ultimately the only one I answer to is myself. It might look easy on the outside, but what if your work was evaluated monthly and the results posted so everyone can see? Could be a little bit of pressure at times. Having said that, I don't know of anything else I would be better suited for except maybe eating and I probably can't get paid for that.

You are on the right track buddy; stay focused and full steam ahead.

marianne.worley
marianne.worley

Hi JK,

I agree that a corporate environment can be the perfect training for a future entrepreneur. You can create new "side projects" and run them like mini-businesses: "hiring" colleagues to work with you, identifying objectives, creating strategies, executing strategies, marketing the projects, etc.

I'm an "accidental entrepreneur" myself (laid off in December), but I'm finding that my corporate experience and business school knowledge are serving me well in my new freelance marketing career.

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

Awww Yeahhhh, the man who changed the online world's perception of what the word 'hustle' means has made a pit stop at Gini's house! Sweet!! :-)

When I think of the phrase intrapreneur, I think of you JK. You've done such a tremendous job at shedding light on this subject-- the reality that the 'rush' of being an entrepreneur can in many ways be achieved if we simply turn a switch in our minds, and treat both the same.

Keep spreading the good word my friend,

Marcus

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

JK, thank you for guest blogging for us today. It is a good reminder to us all that we wring every bit of education out of every moment. I know when I look back on my corporate days, I could have paid closer to attention to certain things, had I known I'd be going out on my own one day.

I just hope your employer doesn't read this!!

John Falchetto
John Falchetto

Hi Buddy,

Great to read you here, you know I have been a fan of yours since I first started reading The Hustlers Notebook.

I don't know anyone out there who has so smartly and successfully succeeded in turning corporate America into something that works for them.

I blogged about my transition from corporate to self-employed and let's just say I would do it very differently if I had to do it again now. The way you are managing yourself as JK Inc. is simply awesome and inspiring for all the corporate America residents out there.

Thanks for showing the way buddy.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Another great post JK. It is all about being in an "Attitude of Gratitude". That makes all the difference. You have a lot to be grateful for and at the same time, you are staying true to yourself and your dreams. Wish i would have read some of this stuff a couple years ago. Ha ! It's all good. Thanks again for all your great writing, support and help.

Al

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

Your second point really struck me, and it is completely true. I am sure that a lot of people fail, without the structure, once they go out on their own. It is easy to sleep in.

Justicewordlaw
Justicewordlaw

Juggling both is a very hard thing to do but as you mentioned above if you can not understand how to be discipline while working at a company then once being self employed you won't know what to do with yourself. I didn't leave my position until I knew financially that I could assist myself and really drive more business.

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  1. […] just finished reading a blog post by JK Allen over on Spin Sucks and he talks about being an intrapreneur and the lessons and concepts that he has learned while […]

  2. […] your approach, I think it is incredibly important to get exactly who and what you are right in your head when starting out. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to communicate that to potential clients […]

  3. […] your approach, I think it is incredibly important to get exactly who and what you are right in your head when starting out. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to communicate that to potential clients […]