12/30/2014 12:40 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2015

Intrapreneurship: The Launchpad for Entrepreneurship

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

As we're entering the New Year, I find it's always a great time to reflect on the past year before we start to plan for our business in the upcoming year.

As such, I've been reflecting on a theme I'm noticing quite a bit while conducting my personal branding for leaders training program for corporate employees. I also offer the workshop to entrepreneurs. And the difference is that a lot of corporate employees are looking for the workshop to help them find a new job, while the entrepreneurs see it as an opportunity to learn how to better serve their employees, customers and causes they're committed to.

In a way, I find it sad that the state of the American workplace for corporate employees still only shows that 48% of workers are happy, according to Pew Research Center findings. I've always considered myself a champion for employees becoming intrapreneurs, i.e. entrepreneurs on the job, and using employment as an opportunity to create change. Yet what I hear from employees during the training program is that they've become burnt out from pushing change and the resistance within to implement the new practices and initiatives. They're disillusioned - especially younger women.

I can relate. I worked for companies ranging in size from 500-10,000 employees. I always prided myself in being a change agent. However, larger organizations can mean more bureaucracy, entrenched cultures and analysis paralysis. While I was always fortunate to have bosses who supported my change agent nature, it didn't mean that the rest of the organization was so gung ho. I also found that my independent and freedom-seeking nature wasn't necessarily supported by traditional organizational policies. These were big motivating factors for me to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship. However, I never could have made the move if I hadn't acquired the knowledge and expertise as an intrapreneur within a company.

If you're a corporate employee who believes that breaking down the old corporate structure isn't enough to facilitate change, but starting something anew is what will, I'd encourage you to embrace intrapreneurship as the launchpad for your entrepreneurial venture. Why?

  • Your current place of employment will allow you to test your business and product ideas. You can use it as market research.
  • Your organization has existing funding that supports your research and your training. This will help you reduce your own costs for when you start your own business.
  • You can learn from an established brand and marketing. See what works and doesn't work.
  • Having a job can be a safety net for failure. Find out what works while still being gainfully employed and financially supported.

All this being said, it isn't just about taking everything from your employer and not giving back. As the saying goes: "How you show up here is how you show up everywhere." Your attitude toward your employer is important. You don't want to burn your bridges. You also want to display an attitude of gratitude for all that you're learning. It might be that your employer is just a teacher in what not to do. Nonetheless, your leadership is still a teacher. So, as an intrapreneur look for ways to serve. Take responsibility for the direction of your career. Then have courage to take action and follow your entrepreneurial dreams.

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This post originally appeared on my blog at