In today’s accelerated world where exciting new technologies can pop up overnight to disrupt and dominate traditional businesses, grow whole new verticals, and drive multi-billion dollar acquisitions, “entrepreneur” has become a red-hot buzzword and a dream job. Who doesn’t want to join the ranks of Uber, Warby Parker or Snapchat or secretly imagine making the next big app, creating a game-changing social media platform or inventing a new way to make dinner? The people that do are today’s heroes.
When Jack Welch (he’s actually my boss – how crazy is that?) was recently speaking to MIT’s graduating class, he noted that many of the students who came up to him to talk about their post-graduation plans expressed that “being an entrepreneur” was their chosen career path — as if they were talking about becoming a doctor or lawyer.
But while they may get all the credit, entrepreneurs aren’t the only innovators. Ok, so maybe you’re never going to be Zuckerberg and you know it. Many of us don’t have the luxury, the guts or the genius idea to just go for it and start that new company in the garage or risk joining the early ranks of an up-start with only the promise of future earnings to eat on. Yet that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to become practicing entrepreneurs inside our own organizations.
Chances are, at some point in your career, you’ll start a new division or launch a new product, a new program, or a new process within the walls of your current employer (risking your company’s money instead of your own). I’ve done it four times in my career in fields ranging from healthcare to education, and it’s clear to me that many of the exact same characteristics that make a rockstar entrepreneur on the outside make a great everyday “intrepreneur” on the inside. Either way, the ingredients you need to win are:
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. But no matter where you work, or what level you’re at, you can rock intrepreneurship within your own company. You can soak up all you can from the star entrepreneurs that emerge every day on the outside and use those insights within your organization to drive results and incremental innovation. You can own the mindset, “We’re not going to just accept the way it’s always been done. We’re going to bet on new ideas and follow them through. We’re going to find a better way today and make it happen.”
And maybe, you’ll be practicing for the day you decide to finally take the leap and go make that app.