Difference between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur

Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur

Difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur

The term ‘intrapreneur’ is a newly developed corporate equivalent of the long-established term ‘entrepreneur’. Gifford Pinchot, a management consultant and author of the 1985 book “Intrapreneuring”, is widely credited for bringing in this term. Intrapreneurship has gained a lot of traction and weight in a short span of time since it was incepted. But people often get confused between the meaning of entrepreneur and intrapreneur. In this article, the difference between these two terms is elaborated.

Who are entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurship is a well-known term in the business world. It is derived from the French word, entreprendre, which means “to undertake”. In a business context, it refers to undertaking a business activity or simply starting a business. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as ‘one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise’.

Many people find the idea of establishing a business intriguing. This is the mindset of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs try very hard to be able to maintain the desire and energy necessary to start a new business and to successfully manage it. They have different levels of education and experience. However, research shows that the most successful entrepreneurs have a common set of personal characteristics, such as creativity, devotion to goals, determination, risk-taking, adaptability, leadership, enthusiasm, and self-confidence.

Origination of intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship is a skill set that combines entrepreneurship with management. Intrapreneurship, to put it simply, is the practice of entrepreneurship by employees within a company. Today, the tendency is that everyone who is competent in managing other people’s businesses is himself engaging in entrepreneurship. This is causing insufficiency of managerial staff. As a result of this changing trend, the notion of intrapreneurship emerged, in which an intrapreneur (i.e., a manager) is appointed as the head of a certain business unit and requested to manage it for the corporation while applying his innovative skills. For example, when a corporation considers going for diversification, it can designate one of its managers as an intrapreneur to launch a business venture while enabling him to receive a portion of the earnings/profits generated by the new business venture.

Who are intrapreneurs?

Intrapreneurs are individuals who embrace a new idea for a product, service, or process and seek to bring it to reality within the boundaries of the organization they work for. With their inventions and committed efforts, intrapreneurs are viewed as a valuable resource by the organization, motivating others. They act as role models for people in such organizations. In many nations, numerous business executives have quit their employment and formed their own businesses because they were not given the opportunity to test and implement their creative ideas. They later achieved tremendous success in their new ventures, posing a threat to the organizations they had left. These executives who transform into entrepreneurs are referred to as intrapreneurs.

The gap between an organization’s philosophy and that of the employee will become noticeable when an intrapreneur continues to communicate his viewpoints with enthusiasm. He will succeed if his organization encourages him to pursue his ideas. But if this does not happen, he is likely to leave the company and start his own business.

Key differences between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur

Conviction, zeal, and intelligence are some of the characteristics shared by both intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. But the following differences set them apart:

  • An entrepreneur carries significant risk as being the owner and operator of an enterprise, with the expectation of financial success and other advantages from the enterprise. But an intrapreneur, on the other hand, is a person who works for a company and is compensated based on the financial performance of the unit for which he is accountable.
  • An entrepreneur is typically a visionary who senses a market potential and has the enthusiasm, acumen, and contact base to put it into action. On the other hand, an intrapreneur has enthusiasm and ambition, but he or she also has the operational ability to manage the “clockwork” of the company and transform a brilliant concept into a commercial reality. He is known as the “internal entrepreneur”.
  • In the same way that a seed of a business idea requires an entrepreneur to shape and cultivate it, an entrepreneur needs the help of an intrapreneur to pluck those seeds of opportunity from his grip, transform them into a viable commercial strategy, and then execute that plan to a successful reality. Without the intrapreneur, the ideas of entrepreneurs and small businesses are bound to fail.
  • Entrepreneurs may be found anywhere, however, intrapreneurs are discovered, or rather encouraged to play their roles within the boundaries of a corporation.
  • While entrepreneurs may suffer criticism and setbacks from society as a whole, intrapreneurs need to cope with competitiveness inside the enterprise in which they operate.
  • Entrepreneurs find it difficult to gather resources, but intrapreneurs have them easily available.
Distinguishing factorsEntrepreneurIntrapreneur
GoalsTo become a market leaderTo nurture new business processes
ApproachIndependent approachDependent on others like the company’s management
CompanyNewly formedWorks for an existing company
Degree of risk-takingExtremeModerate
Who bears the risk?HimselfCompany
ResourcesNeeds to arrangeReadily available to him
CompetitionWith other entrepreneurs outside the firmWith peers within the firm
CompensationProfits of the enterpriseDepends on the performance of the business unit that he oversees
Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur


Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs set themselves apart from employees in a variety of ways, the most fundamental of which is their connection with the business. It is a matter of commitment vs involvement. While employees are involved, entrepreneurs & intrapreneurs are committed.

An entrepreneur is a person who has the concept for a new company and is willing to take all kinds of risks in order to not only make the product or service a reality but also to make it incredibly demanding. In fulfilling his dreams, a person who can assist by bringing innovation to the company is an intrapreneur. It is in an organization’s best interest to encourage intrapreneurs. Intrapreneurship is an effective way for organizations to reinvent themselves and enhance performance.

Thanks for reading!

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