The Difference Between Entrepreneur And Intrapreneur – Explained

The struggle to determine the difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur is real, and unsurprisingly – more common than you think. They are often considered the same. And today we are here to weed out this confusion. 

While both the groups carry the same zeal and conviction for delivering innovative solutions, their ways of doing it are different. 

Before diving into the details of the two, let’s understand the most basic difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur.  An entrepreneur is the one who starts his/her own business with an entirely novel concept, while the latter is an employee who also promotes and accelerates innovation – but within the limits of his/her organization. 


All about an entrepreneur 

To begin with, an entrepreneur is a person who sets up business/businesses, taking financial risks in the hope of extending innovative solutions to the problems of the world. Note that it’s not always the entrepreneur who thinks of the business idea, he/she’s rather the person who makes the idea – “a reality”. 

An entrepreneur develops a business model, acquires the necessary resources to start the venture and then operationalizes it. So, precisely, he/she is the risk-taker, an innovator and a creator of new businesses.

Related: Habits of successful entrepreneurs that make them who they are.

Speaking of entrepreneurship in India, two of the biggest modern ventures are

 – Flipkart and Paytm. 

  1. Vijay Shekhar Sharma: Vijay’s investors were not at all confident about his idea of mobile-first consumer service. He personally put $2 Mn at stake to finally launch the brand – Paytm. The rest, as they say, is history.
  2. Sachin Bansal: Flipkart has smoothly seeped into households of all groups. This online shopping destination (the first e-commerce website in India) was introduced to us by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal.


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Characteristics of an Entrepreneur 

Let’s understand the characteristics of an Entrepreneur – which later in the blog, will help in establishing the difference between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur.

entrepreneur- difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur1. Work – Entrepreneurs essentially work towards solving a problem that a major segment of the population is dealing with.

And because no one is asking them to do so – they are their own boss – and work for themselves. They strive to be the market leader in the area they step in. 

2.  Risk-takers – Entrepreneurs are instinctive risk-takers. As much as they want and work towards making their business a success, they also know and accept that the resultant possibilities are many – massive gains or terrible losses. Businesses do fail. And entrepreneurs are not unaware of this fact. Nevertheless, they take the risk. 

3. Autonomy- Entrepreneurs have the freedom to have their own ways. Not only do they decide the business goal they want to work for, but they are also free to decide how to go about the process. From the small choices to big business decisions, they enjoy complete autonomy. 

4. Resource attainer– Entrepreneurs are the sole attainers of all the resources they might need in building their business. As they are building their business from scratch, they do need to build their own resource base. They are the one who hires the human resource for various departments (team members). Also, they need to raise their own capital for beginning the process. 

5. Leadership traits– If there’s one trait an entrepreneur cannot thrive without – it’s the leadership skill. It’s important to understand that entrepreneurs are independent workers but they cannot work alone. They need a team to realize their business goals. Entrepreneurs –

  • Have a clear vision.
  • Practice excellent communication skills.
  • Efficiently delegate responsibilities.
  • Lead by example. 


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Importance of Entrepreneurship

Now that we have created a framework of who entrepreneurs are, let’s understand why does entrepreneurship matter! 

1. New businesses – Entrepreneurship gives rise to innovative solutions which in turn leads to new businesses and job creation. As a new business grows, it also enhances the standard of living, not only of the workforce involved but also of the population as a whole.

importance of entrepreneurship- difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur

2. Community development – Entrepreneurs play a role in developing the community around them. The profits from their businesses enable them to develop beyond their own ventures.

From public health to education, entrepreneurs nurture and support the sectors by putting their money to a good cause. Bill Gates is one of the first names when it comes to entrepreneurs engaging in community development. 

3. National Income – Entrepreneurship adds to the national income by generating new wealth. It essentially breaks the confinements of existing markets and thus creates new wealth. How? Through developing markets by improved and innovative products and technologies. 

4. Economic development – All kinds of entrepreneurs need to pay GST to the government. The government, in turn, spends this tax collection on the development of the country. Also, to establish the infrastructure, entrepreneurs acquire capital from equity sources or loans from the banks which directly influences the economy.  Through establishing industries in the country-side, entrepreneurship develops those areas too. These developmental activities result in an economically balanced country.   

All about an Intrapreneur 

An intrapreneur has the zeal and conviction of an entrepreneur but is responsible for bringing innovative ideas and solutions within a company. 

The intrapreneur thus does not face the risks involved in entrepreneurship but also does not get to access unlimited autonomy. Also, he/she doesn’t reap gains like an entrepreneur.

The intrapreneur, however, gets to leverage the resources, power, and capabilities of an established company and doesn’t have to start from scratch.

Characteristics of an Intrapreneur 

This is where you’ll be able to point out the difference between Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur. 

1. Work– Intrapreneurs, just like entrepreneurs, strive towards solving a problem through innovative ways. But the difference here is – they work within an organization (that is not their own). This can turn out to be challenging as entrepreneurs establish the culture from scratch, while intrapreneurs need to work around an established work atmosphere.

intrapreneurship- difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur2. Resource – Unlike problems faced by entrepreneurs, it is not upon the intrapreneur to establish the team to work with or attain all the resources he/she needs. They have a team that is chosen by the management. Speaking about resources, intrapreneurs are highly resourceful. They know how to make the best of what they have. 

3. Risk – Intrapreneurs are not as much of a risk-taker as entrepreneurs. Although they do defy the norms and go against the stream to come up with ideas, they still need the security of the paycheck. It’s not the intrapreneur but the company that takes the risk. Also unlike entrepreneurs, even if their idea fails, more often than not, their business is not at stake.

4. Determined and adaptable – Intrapreneurs are instinctively determined. Because they know changes are hard to bring. They know as they go on, people who have established notions regarding ways of work will question their ideas. At the same time, they are also adaptable. They know they need to function around some kinds of restrictions in the name of the company’s policies and protocols. 

4. Result-driven – Intrapreneurs are more result-driven than experimental (unlike entrepreneurs). They plan the outcomes and strategise their actions accordingly. 


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Importance of Intrapreneurship 

Let’s answer – why does intrapreneurship matter?

1. Growth – The growth of any business (and its employees) is highly dependant on how they extend futuristic solutions to masses and what makes them stand apart. And intrapreneurship, at its core, is all about that. Intrapreneurs bring profit, reputation, and credibility to the organisation. 

2. Support innovation – What thrives today, may fail tomorrow! And businesses understand this and thus realise the potential of innovation. Besides entrepreneur, an intrapreneur is the one who weaves innovation to the otherwise regular business process. They not only introduce novel concepts but also work towards sustaining it. Here, innovation can be reforming existing products/services or introducing new ones.

3. Finding the achievers and recognising them – Intrapreneurship also helps in finding people in the organisation that are essentially problem-solvers. They are the ones who integrate their problem solving and creativity skills to produce components that ultimately make a difference. The next step is to recognise their achievement. This not only benefits the organisation but also the employees (their attitude). As they achieve a sense of belonging towards the organisation when their ideas are implemented (which is missed in a regular organisation). 


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Intrapreneurship projects that made a difference

1. INTEL – We have known Intel for investing in Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. But in 1998, it decided to invest in the ideas of their own staff. The result? Out of 400 ideas – 24+ (that’s a huge number of ideas)  reached the funding stage. Their most successful venture has been  – Vivonic Fitness Planner by former Intel engineer Paul Scagnetti. This made users meet their nutrition and exercise goals.

2. Google – Would you believe if I tell you that Google’s Gmail is a result of intrapreneurship too? Yes, that’s a fact! That’s what intrapreneurship can result in. The creator of Gmail – Paul Buchheit –  worked independently to build its first version. 

3. Apple – Yet another incredible example is that of Mac computers. A group of intrapreneurs (organised by Steve Jobs) worked independently to develop the Macintosh computer.



Now that you know about the difference between entrepreneur and intrapreneur, you must also know – they both are achievers in their own right. And the crux of their personalities is their ability to innovate – without which – you wouldn’t be reading this!

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