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Cubo: How to promote your business with corporate entrepreneurship

Cubo: How to promote your business with corporate entrepreneurship

Corporate entrepreneurship: how to promote it in your business

Corporate entrepreneurship, also known as intrapreneurship, concerns the act of developing a new business within an organization.

The proposal is to stimulate and provide opportunities for the corporation’s employees to act as internal entrepreneurs, generating new ideas and creating projects and initiatives that add value to the company. To delve deeper into the concept and how it can be encouraged in corporations, we have prepared this article that will address, among other points, the meaning of corporate entrepreneurship, its characteristics and how to implement it.

What is corporate entrepreneurship?
Corporate entrepreneurship is an approach that encourages employees to become entrepreneurs within the company itself, by encouraging the search for new ideas, business opportunities and solutions to the organization’s challenges. The concept was created by Gifford Pinchot III, entrepreneur and author of “Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur”, a 1985 work in which he defines the term.

In the article Intrapreneurship, explained, written by Meredith Somers in 2018 for the MIT Management Sloan School, the topic was explained in an enlightening way. On the occasion, she presented relevant examples that prove the efficiency and proximity of intrapreneurship to the reality of business.

Gmail, for example, can be considered one of the most successful cases when it comes to corporate entrepreneurship. Email with a free version, launched in 2004, had reached the mark of 1 billion users in 2016. The innovation was born from an initiative promoted internally by Google. It is not new that internal leaders at the search giant encourage their employees to be able to deploy 20% of their working time on side projects that have some relationship with the core business of the business.

In addition to Gmail, other well-known services were also born from intrapreneurship actions, such as the geolocation service Google Maps, the social network Twitter — currently X — and the instant messaging application Slack. This was also what happened with the Facebook like button, launched on February 9, 2009. The measure, despite seeming simple, revolutionized the way people interacted with the social network. Corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship can be a way for corporations to stimulate innovation internally.

Benefits of corporate entrepreneurship
Corporations interested in fostering innovation can find a series of benefits in corporate entrepreneurship. Discover the main ones:

Competitive agility
By cultivating an entrepreneurial culture, corporations can become more agile and able to quickly adapt to market changes. This way, they can respond more effectively to competition and customer demands. Therefore, corporations that encourage corporate entrepreneurship are able to maintain their relevance and competitiveness.

Talent attraction and retention
Corporate entrepreneurship generates another advantage associated with the open innovation climate: it creates a stimulating and challenging work environment. This factor, in itself, can attract talented professionals looking for opportunities to grow and innovate. Furthermore, corporations that support and value entrepreneurial initiative tend to better retain their talent

Revenue diversification
By encouraging employees to explore new business opportunities, organizations can diversify their revenue sources. In this way, they can reduce dependence on a single product or market. This issue is also fundamental to help mitigate the risks associated with economic volatility and changes in the business environment.

Culture of learning and continuous improvement
Corporate entrepreneurship promotes, in this context, a culture of learning and continuous improvement. In it, mistakes must be seen as opportunities for growth and innovation. In this scenario, it is prudent that employees are encouraged to experiment, learn from their failures, and constantly look for ways to improve their products, processes, and overall performance. This focus on improving processes and resolving challenges directly contributes to the company’s efficiency and reduced operating costs. All these advantages yield other additional benefits: boosting business growth, competitiveness and long-term sustainability.

Incremental innovation versus disruptive innovation
A point that deserves attention in corporate entrepreneurship is what type of innovation you want to stimulate: incremental or disruptive. In the MIT article, Somers advocates the idea that innovation fostered by intrapreneurship needs to be incremental. This is because the closer it is to the product or service that already exists in the corporation, the greater the probability of success. Once the existence of a demand or customer base for a certain type of product or service is known, the easier it will be to sell the result of corporate entrepreneurship. But if, on the contrary, when one chooses to adopt the perspective of disruptive innovation, the risk tends to be greater. It is necessary to understand, then, which approach best reflects the organization’s long-term vision to balance risks and direct efforts.

How to implement corporate entrepreneurship
The company’s culture is directly related to the implementation of corporate entrepreneurship. In addition to structuring practical means so that new projects can be developed by employees, it is important to work on encouraging and opening up new ideas in a broad way. Understand what steps can be followed for those who want to implement corporate entrepreneurship:

Consider the context
This is, therefore, the first big tip for a business that is born within another: you need to consider the context in which it is located. As intrapreneurship will take place from a pre-existing corporation, it is worth taking into account your core business or expertise and “surfing this wave” to be successful.

Analyze employees’ expertise
Another essential factor for intrapreneurship initiatives to be successful is considering employees’ previous experiences and strengths in skills. By doing this, in addition to making actions more effective, it shows the team that leaders evaluate and closely observe individual capabilities. This can stimulate, among other advantages, greater belonging and, consequently, a desire to “wear the shirt” more effectively.

Promote a culture of autonomy
After determining a project that is in line with the main business, it is worth establishing an organizational culture that values innovation and gives employees autonomy to explore new ideas. To this end, it is recommended to create internal programs to encourage innovation and recognize and reward innovative ideas. Furthermore, promoting a “thinking outside the box” mentality at all levels of the company helps the process.

Foster a flexible and agile structure
Implement flexible and agile organizational structures that allow rapid adaptation to changes in the market and customer needs. The measure can be put into practice through the adoption of agile and project management methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban methods. Another initiative that can be taken is the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy that hinders innovation and quick decision-making.

Encourage intrapreneurship
Encourage and support the development of intrapreneurs within the organization who are, essentially, employees with initiative and entrepreneurial vision. Additionally, they must be willing to take calculated risks to drive innovation and growth for the corporation. In this case, it is prudent to offer opportunities for these employees to be leaders in innovative projects. To do so, provide necessary resources and support and recognize their efforts and achievements. Those with an intrapreneurial spirit generally like to have autonomy when it comes to making decisions and carrying out tasks.

Boost collaboration and exchange of ideas
Create spaces to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas between employees from different areas and hierarchical levels of the company. The measure can become a reality through events to promote brainstorming, such as innovation workshops and hackathons. Another valid action is the implementation of online communication and collaboration tools that promote the exchange of ideas and teamwork.

Invest in training and development
Increase financial resources for employee training and development, providing learning opportunities. Among the activities that can increase engagement around intrapreneurship actions are entrepreneurial skills, such as creativity, leadership, problem solving and critical thinking. To do so, grant access to courses, workshops, mentoring and coaching in entrepreneurship and innovation. These activities can occur both internally within the organization and in partnership with educational institutions and specialized organizations.

Reward for efforts achieved
However, there is a big difference between taking advantage of people’s goodwill and actually rewarding them for their efforts. And those who participate in the process know when this happens, which can harm the organizational climate, if there is any bad faith attitude in this regard. Therefore, it is prudent to look for means both in actions and financial resources to value those who embark on an intrapreneurship journey. Because as a person dedicates, in addition to time, their intelligence to the business, there is nothing more fair than earning a difference for it.

Profile of the successful corporate entrepreneur
Some characteristics are quite common to be found in people who have the potential to be intrapreneurs. Below, check out some of them and keep them on your radar to take advantage of some talent in your company.

Strategic and analytical vision
A person who has within them the essence to become a good corporate entrepreneur is generally able to have an analytical view of the context. This individual tends to have in-depth knowledge of the business and its competitors, as well as growth opportunities. In general, it captures “in the air” the insights necessary to implement improvements and expand what already exists.

Lifelong learner
He is also a person who has not stagnated in terms of knowledge. Therefore, he constantly seeks to update himself and keep his professional qualifications up to date. In other words, a person with an entrepreneurial vision understands the importance of continuing education and improves their own career, independently.

Power of adaptation
In scenarios of change, including unplanned ones, people with an entrepreneurial spirit are resilient and learn to “swim with the current”. To the same extent, due to this characteristic, they are able to encourage others around them to do the same and adjust their professional and corporate path whenever necessary.

Not afraid to take risks
Another skill present in the profile of these people is not being afraid of risks. With autonomy, those with an entrepreneurial spirit can be willing to break some rules, if necessary, to put their goals into practice. In general, these individuals prefer to have freedom to act, always accompanied by responsibility and aware of their limits within the business. Your watchword is to get out of your comfort zone.

Innovation hub: support for corporate innovation
A great ally in the process of stimulating corporate entrepreneurship actions in a company is participating in an innovation hub. At Cubo Itaú, corporations can intensify their open innovation initiatives through access to curated startups with market-validated products.