Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: Which Career Path is Right for You?

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Are you in a place in your career where you are willing to take a gamble? Are you prepared to bet it all on yourself and roll the dice on your future? Or has that time come and gone and now you’re just looking for stability for you and your family?

Or maybe you’re stuck in the middle. Maybe you’re weighing the pros and cons of both paths and you’re desperately trying to decide between entrepreneur versus intrapreneur. The former revels in the idea of being their own boss and making all the big decisions, while the latter is motivated by leading initiatives within the confines of corporate America.   

This article is designed to help you compare the two career paths and decide which one is right for you.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: the work environment

One of the biggest differences between being an entrepreneur and intrapreneur is going to be your place of business and its culture.

In 2012, 52 percent of entrepreneurs decided to make their venture a home-based business—something many agree is a very attractive aspect of entrepreneurship. Meanwhile just 10 percent of internal employees spent at least one day a week working from home—something you probably wish you could do more often.

But work environment is about more than just location—it’s also about company culture. As an entrepreneur you’ll shape the culture that surrounds your business. Meanwhile intrapreneurs often join a preexisting culture that requires acclimation. It’s important to remember that an organization’s culture is something that can make you love or hate your job.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your home, a small shop or even a large corporate office, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs need to be comfortable with their work environment and company culture. Start thinking about which environment and culture bests fits your interests as you consider your entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial career path.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: the responsibilities

Becoming an entrepreneur puts the responsibility clearly on your shoulders. From accounting and marketing to customer service and social media, you are solely responsible for getting things done—a reality that is sometimes difficult to manage with only so many hours in a day. As an intrapreneur however you’re often tasked to work in one specialized area. That might mean working in accounting, marketing, customer service or social media, but rarely will an intrapreneur be assigned to all four departments.

Start thinking about if you would prefer to take ownership by juggling many different balls at the same time or simply focusing on a single set of responsibilities.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: the risks & rewards

The fact is that both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs face risks. But, not all risks are equal. Entrepreneurs need to embrace the financial risk of forming their own businesses, but the potential for financial gain may offset that risk.  On the other hand, intrapreneurs enjoy the perks of a steady paycheck and health benefits but their employment is generally considered "at will,” which means the organization can terminate their employment at any time.

The difference between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, as it relates to risks versus rewards, is always going to be a personal decision. And they are most certainly not always financially driven. Be honest with yourself about how much risk you are comfortable with and which rewards you value the most.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: the motivation

Deep down, both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are motivated to make an impact on their businesses or organizations. But motivation comes in many forms for many people.

If you see yourself as someone who is motivated by things such as money, personal achievement or fulfilling a lifelong dream, you might be fit to be an entrepreneur. But if your primary motivation is financial stability, love of what you are doing and putting others ahead of you, perhaps becoming an intrapreneur is a better fit.

Entrepreneurship vs. Intrapreneurship: finding your path

Deciding to become an entrepreneur can be a very rewarding as it offers a variety of perks related to schedule flexibility and control in making decisions. Meanwhile intrapreneurs who work hard for a company often enjoy additional resources, financial stability and greater responsibilities.

At the end of the day, deciding on entrepreneurship versus intrapreneurship as a career path can be a tough decision. It’s important to be thinking about which path best matches your dreams, interests and aspirations.

Either way, the choice is yours.

If you’d like to learn more about how to apply your skills to becoming an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, check out the Rasmussen College entrepreneurship degree program.

Grant Tilus

Grant works for Collegis education and writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. He aims to inspire, motivate and inform current and prospective students.

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