Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are idea people. They think innovatively and creatively to come up with new business ideas. The major difference between the two is that entrepreneurs typically start their own businesses or sell ideas for personal gain, while intrapreneurs share ideas within a business to help it achieve goals.
An entrepreneur can act on her visions with independence and flexibility. She typically has greater control over her ability to put ideas into action. She also has more control over how to profit from them. An entrepreneur may start a new business venture individually or with partners and profit from business activities, or she may develop a business model and sell the idea to investors or buyers. The ceiling on potential income from an idea is virtually limitless.
To profit greatly from an entrepreneurial idea, you normally have to invest time and money. Doing this alone increases your risk for economic loss. You don't have a company to rely on to take on these risks. Additionally, the time involved in turning an idea into a profit is usually significant. Some entrepreneurs develop companies and spend many hours beyond the typical 40-hour work week building and managing their businesses.
Organizations often encourage intrapreneurial thinking to develop new business ideas and to get employees to think outside the box. Intrapreneurship is less risky for an individual because the company normally assumes the investment risks of putting the idea into action. Companies often reward idea generators with bonuses and promotions. Thus, you get a reward without risk. You also benefit intangibly from recognition and accomplishment. Effective intrapreneurs may also benefit by spending much of their work time brainstorming and mapping out ideas.
The major drawback of generating ideas for employers is that you don't have the same potential to benefit financially. In essence, the company pays you to develop ideas and owns them once you share them internally. Limited freedom to carry out your ideas exists as well. The time allocated by your company or manager is all you have to spend on creative thinking.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.