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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!!

marleeward
marleeward

@ginidietrich Hiiiii! Good to see your smiling face this am. Hope you had an awesome ride today! :)

adamtoporek
adamtoporek

@ginidietrich bet even you were exhausted trying to keep up yesterday! Craziness. Hoe you get to enjoy a calmer Tuesday. :)

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@RyanBiddulph Hey Ryan! "Do what you can, where you are" is basically what I've always lived by.

Karma always plays it's never-ending position. Like you, I find the better I give to others (even big corporate companies) the better I get back in return. It's a win/win!

I'll have to check out The Science of Getting Rich.

Thanks for the support buddy!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@EricaAllison Thank you for the support Erica (you cool mom you!)

You know Erica - once I have what I'm working on in the lab up and running - I won't make a move until I can at least match my yearly salary. So I don't kid myself and think that I'm making a move out of corporate in 3-6 months. I give myself 1-2 years. I'm able to take my time; learn, evaluate, learn more and build at a sensible speed. It's very non-traditional and overly conservative, I know. But I have a certain lifestyle that I'm not willing to forsake at the present time because my kids are 2, 6, and 7...and my wife stays home with the kidos. Being able to go on vacations, and experience this time with my wife and kids is too precious for me to rush into anything and possibly backtrack. I've been without in ways that I don't want my kids to experience. So that makes me a little conservative at times. Considering, I have to make the best out of what I have in front of me!

I appreciate your support. Means a lot!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@HowieG Hey Howie! Yes, the support is great. Means a lot to me too. Not that I have to have a team in order for me to function...but it's extra motivation.

Great point about the learnings that you've had from corporate, and the ones you've learned outside of that structure that have made you more of a universal businessperson. I spent two years as a non-employed entrepreneur in the real estate business made a decent living. The market crashed...and because I have kids - I don't take the same types of risks as others may take - so re-assumed the position (if you will). From that experience I really learned a lot about business...and it's that experience that taught me that I have much more to learn. So as I'm spending this current stint of time in corporate - I'm soaking it up!

Thanks for sharing your story with us Howie. Much appreciated!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Ryan Critchett What's up Ryan. Military huh? Cool. Most people that I meet think that I have a military backing because of my discipline...but I'm not. But I do respect those how have served. So thanks!

I grew up in a situation where I simply had to make things work for me. I remember when I started liking girls...I started to realize that I had raggedy clothes. So what did I do - I started ironing my clothes to make them look nicer. That same attitude sits with me today...make ANY situation into as favorable of a situation as possible. And I do this with the best intentions for myself and others.

I commend you for handling all that you do. In my eyes - you're a hustler (in the best way)!

Thanks for the great comment Ryan.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Adam | Customer Experience Great point. Understanding the basics of business accumen is important. The time I've spent as an entrepreneur (non-corporate) and as an intrapreneur has strengthened my business acumen considerably. The opportunities in dealing with Legal counsels, difficult contract negotiations, answering complex RFPs and so on have played a significant part in my business IQ.

And I hear it all the time too. It's easy to spot those who have a limited scope professionally, which is okay - but they speak in a tone as if they've been there/done that when they haven't. Often times people discredit my professional experience simply because I work in corporate. But hey, what can ya do!

Once again Adam, great point sir!

Thanks

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Danny Brown Hey Danny! I promote this topic a lot offline too. Even been asked my by previous employer to do presentations to new hires at some point in the future.

I grew up having to be very resourceful. I've had to learn quickly and be strategic in my maneuvering. While I hated those days as a kid - I love them now. I feel like there's no situation that I can't find a way to learn how to be successful in. That sounds a bit arrogant...but that's not my nature. I just believe that I experienced things for very definite reasons...some of those I'm living today.

It's an honor to be at Gini's house today!

Thanks Danny

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Lori Yeah, I must say that there are benefits in knowing when the money is coming and and where it's coming from. Having kids...that's a nice peace of mind.

But in this day and age - you can't put your faith into these loyalty'less entities. They'll lay you off in a drop of a hat.

Yes, it's a perk to know when the money is coming. But I know for a fact that I'm not maximizing my potential.

I have to connect with you to find out what you do for a living...only having a regular job once!

Take care!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@MADphilips Hey Tito - thanks for coming through. As long as you're a performer, an organization is willing to allow you to express your creativity. If I can't be creative, then I lose interest - so this is important to me. And I think others are the same way, but sometimes the correlation isn't identified...they simply think that they don't have freedom, but that's only because they haven't earned it.

It's a fine line between making it work for you or against you.

Thanks for the kind words Tito!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Frank-A Spark Starts Hey Frank - give it a test drive. Take 6 months and completely allow your attitude to change in a way that you see you as the boss. Sure, you follow the rules and conform (strategically) where you have to. But you see your work as your business. It makes it easier to do well; to want to give the extra effort...instead of trying to figure out ways to do the minimum. When I adopted this philosophy - I started getting promotions (role wise and pay wise)... And I've never in my career applied or a promotion. I bet in 6 months you wouldn't change a thing!

It's not the easy route - but it's one worth trying!

I would wish you luck - but you can get all the luck you ever wanted by hustling.

PEACE

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@KenMueller Hi Ken. It's crazy how things fall into place. I think your situation sounds very ideal given the situation...but I'm sure there were some obstacles along the way.

You made the best of your situation and look at you now, happier than ever...

Great sorry you shared. Thanks for doing so!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@TheJackB - Hey Jack...Sales folks definitely have to hustle. I'm not currently in a sales role, but I've been there and ate well doing it. I think that's the part that a lot of business struggle with...client acquisition. So yes, it's important to have that sales hustle down. But to build an empire, a salesperson alone needs many more skills along the way (and that's why he hires them, or develops those skills).

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@lchristiemympds I'm a student (not in a traditional sense) and find that lessons reside everywhere if I'm willing to pay attention to them! Thanks for comment.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@bdorman264 Bill - I know, I have like 30 comments to reply to at my own blog. It's been hard staying up to date as of late. Why? I've been in the lab crafting my next big move..the one that finally snatches me out of corporate for good! More to come in the months ahead!

And my sites not raggedy. That hurt my feelings man..................NOT!

Thanks for the support Bill!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@bdorman264 Thanks for the encouragement Bill. I appreciate it big time. Being in business for myself taught me a lot. So when I re-entered the corporate ranks, I did so with an entrepreneurial mindset. And, I vowed to myself that I would make the best of it and not fall into the depths with all the rest of the complainers. Sometimes it's easier said than done - but so far...so good!

I've been in the 100% commission zone before. Personally, I loved it...and during that time, I made the most that I've ever made. It was nice knowing that I was being compensated according to my performance. But, now days, so many comp-plans are poorly designed that it's too often a lose/win (lose for the employee...win for the employer) scenario.

Anyhow, thanks for the support Bill and for the PS comment you left to. I have got to get caught up on my site ASAP!

PEACE

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@marianne.worley Now that's my type of talk right there Marianne! Utilizing ones resources in creative ways. I do this all the time. That's why often times when I go to work I tell people that I'm heading to the LAB. This is just a lab experiment prepping me for what's gradually alligning into my next big move.

Sorry to hear about the lay off last year. Hopefully things are working out for the best! I'll be in touch Marianne!

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Marcus_Sheridan Thanks for the support buddy. It's all about the mindset. I can choose to see myself as a peon or a owner. Many choose peon because they don't realize that they control the switch or their not willing to work as hard as an owner has to work (hustle)...I choose the owner route. My arrangement has been working for me pretty well. It's not my ideal situation...but as I lurk in this transitional state - it's wonderful!

PEACE

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Lisa Gerber One thing I learned is that when you perform at a level that sets you as a standard, you get a little more freedom and leeway than those how are average. My employer knows that I'm not a company man...which is a good thing. They realize that having an employee who takes total ownership of his responsibilities produces good results with consistency!

Thanks for the opportunity to guest post here. What an honor!

Lori
Lori

@Jk Allen I hear what you're saying. Whenever I'd talk about security (or our lack of security) to my husband he reminded me there was no security "out there" and that was years ago!

We definitely have to connect Jk! Skype chat sometime?

Lori

bdorman264
bdorman264

@Jk Allen I knew that would get your attention; you had to go back and look at it just to make sure it was still intact.................:). Good luck on the lab experiment Dr Frankenstein, I'm sure it will be epic. In all seriousness, good luck with it buddy.

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

@Lori Yes, either skype or the NEW FAV in town... G+!

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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 […]