Why is Intrapreneurship relevant to SME’s?

Image showing two colleagues in a meeting sat at a table, one is writing notes.
What is intrapreneurship?
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘innovation’? Is it shiny new things, complex processes, start-ups, life-saving medicines, big tech companies? Perhaps you just think it’s the latest buzzword. Well maybe what you should be thinking about instead, is ‘people’. After all, innovation is generally done by people. Real people. Individuals, groups, teams, whole organisations of talented, energetic and focused people, coming up with game-changing business ideas all the way through to making their workplace a better space to be. People are at the heart of innovation. So it goes without saying that without the ‘right people’ – that is skilled, driven and motivated innovators – any time an entity wants to ‘innovate’, they’re going to struggle.

Enter ‘Intrapreneurs’. Like an entrepreneur, but inside an established organisation, intrapreneurs inspire, create, complete and replicate innovation and entrepreneurial methods from within.

The best companies in the world are full of intrapreneurs. They’re what fuels successful, productive innovation, delivering huge value for less investment, solving challenges and opening up new opportunities at every turn.

Sounds impressive.

And indeed it is! Intrapreneurs have proven success driving new ideas, products, services, and sometimes even whole new businesses, across industries and contexts.

For example, Ken Kutaragi was a Sony employee who became the Intrapreneur behind the success of PlayStation. After some initial obstacles, he managed to convince and show evidence to his leadership that gaming was a market worth pursuing. Well, Sony released the PlayStation in 1994, and gaming now accounts for the highest share of their revenue, over 27 percent!

If they’re supported in the right way, provided with a robust toolkit and offered a nurturing environment to flourish, intrapreneurs are able to run engines of productive innovation over and over again, driving revenue.

Ok, so I’m sold on why Intrapreneurship works. But how is this relevant to smaller organisations?

Good question. You might say that innovation in general is only relevant to larger organisations. They’re the ones that need to constantly grow, that have hundreds – even thousands – of employees, and a huge budget to train their people and invest in their innovation activities. This is the kind of thing for the Googles, Amazons, the Barclays and the Tescos of the world, right?

Wrong. It’s logical to suggest that big organisations have the capacity, time and resources to throw at innovation, perhaps even to the extent that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out – after all, they have the budget. But therein lies the point – the less time, capacity, money and headspace that an organisation has to ‘waste’, then the more effective, focused, and productive it needs to be with its investments. Smaller, leaner, younger organisations are more than ever required to stay ahead of competitors, differentiate themselves in the market, serve their communities to the best of their ability – and do all of this in challenging economic conditions. It is these organisations that need to get the most out of innovation, these organisations that need to continue to evolve and do so on a shoestring budget. So, it is these organisations that need Intrapreneurs.

“The less time, capacity, money and headspace that an organisation has to ‘waste’, then the more effective, focused and productive it needs to be with it’s investments.”

Wait, so SMEs need Intrapreneurs more than big companies?

Quite possibly. With a smaller team, smaller budget, and higher incentive to innovate, you could say that SMEs are a sweet spot for intrapreneurship as fuel for innovation. By enabling their teams to do more for their organisation, pointing often hidden skills and ideas towards a methodical approach to problem-solving, ideation and proposition building, SMEs can get more for less, pivoting talented employees towards coming up with new ways to grow the business. And these are people who stay, who do it again and again – not an expensive, one-time, risky activity but an ongoing engine of activity that increases revenue and reduces costs.

“Ongoing engine of activity that increases revenue and reduces costs” 

Intriguing. So let’s say I’m an SME that wants to enable intrapreneurship…what now?

We thought you’d never ask! If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise, based in South London and keen to open up a whole new set of skills in your
organisation, then you’re in the right place. Unlocking Opportunities is a free accelerator programme, ordinarily worth thousands, designed specifically to encourage and enable intrapreneurship within SMEs. It puts your team at the heart of an exciting, focused and structured approach to driving innovation, from a vague problem space through to a full researched, validated and developed business case and solution for you to implement or take to market. We’re talking about new products, services or business ideas, as well as collaborations across the fantastic hub of resources in South London, including universities and other anchor institutions.

“Unlocking Opportunities is a free accelerator programme, ordinarily worth thousands, designed specifically to encourage and enable entrepreneurship within SMEs”

I’m sold. Where do I sign up?

If this sounds like something you or any SMEs in your network would be interested in learning more about, please reach out to us at Studio Zao:

Bella Padt or Flora Durgerian

Find out more about the Unlocking Opportunities programme and express your interest

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Chris Baker



Posted 16/01/23

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