Before I was named the CEO of Cyrus Innovation, I spent 9 great years working my way up at the company. I watched it grow from a small startup with big ideas, to the cutting-edge software development and consulting firm it is today. Before that, I spent 8 years at various other tech firms, most of which I began working with at the startup stage. And just like with every other person who chose to build their career around growing tech companies (or any type of company, for that matter), I have experienced my share of successes and failures. But from each of these experiences, I learned a valuable thing or two.
Looking back, there are some common traits that the successful companies I worked for all had in common. For one, everyone involved with these great companies, from the CEO on down to each software developer, had a passion for what the company stood for and was looking to accomplish. But that isn’t enough. At the startup stage especially, not only do you need people who are passionate, but you also need employees with a certain personality type. You need people who are willing to think outside the box to come up with great ideas, and who have the guts to pursue those ideas with a goal of putting them into play. What you need… is intrapreneurs.
If you don’t know what intrapreneurship is, the definition is simple. It’s just like entrepreneurship, but acted out within a larger organization. For example, an employee at a large corporation is acting as a intrapreneur by coming up with an idea, then taking the necessary steps to implement that idea in a way that gives it the best chance of resulting in success (which in most cases means profit). This may often include things like starting a small division inside a large firm in order to innovate in a certain fashion, developing a new product, etc. But even though intrapreneurship has historically been thought of in terms of smaller parts of a large organization, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a vital place in a startup.
Think about it this way. What is the most important thing a startup must focus on in order to truly succeed at a high level versus established competitors? INNOVATION. To truly make it big and grow your startup business, you must bring something new to the table. Whether that’s a new product, a new process, or a new way to attack a market, startups must pursue new angles with vigor and courage. And who better to do that than employees with a natural entrepreneurial spirit? Those who dream up a great (though sometimes risky) idea, and have the confidence to walk into the CEO’s office and pitch them on why they should dedicate precious startup resources to see the idea through. Who are willing to put their own reputation, time, and sometimes even job on the line to make it happen. Those are true intrapreneurs. And if you want your startup to be successful, that’s who you should be looking to hire!
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