What do Kodak, Blockbuster and Toys ‘R’ Us have in common? They all went from being behemoths in their markets, to insolvency, because of a failure to adequately respond to changes in their competitive environment. While not all businesses will suffer such a harsh fate, countless organisations are missing opportunities to thrive, focusing only on process efficiency and revenue streams from their existing areas of success.
The cure for this demise is innovation. Smart companies are recognising the need for a two-pronged approach to sustain and improve existing operations, all while securing future growth and profitability by leveraging the creativity of their employees through corporate entrepreneurship.
The problem though, is that while most organisations know they need to be more innovative in order to remain competitive and survive long-term, many don’t have the necessary in-house expertise to design and implement a successful innovation program. A shocking 90 percent of innovation initiatives fail. This is where working with an external corporate entrepreneurship consultant can be a game changer.
Here, we look at how corporate entrepreneurship, implemented with the help of a consultant, can transform your business.
A corporate entrepreneurship definition
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at a corporate entrepreneurship definition to understand exactly what we mean by the term.
Corporate entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship as it is also commonly known, is the process of allowing employees to behave like entrepreneurs within the the organisation, to develop innovative new products, services or even businesses. The purpose is to create value and generate revenue for the organisation.
Corporate entrepreneurship programs tend to produce innovations that are disruptive in nature, rather than incremental changes, and are centered around a “bottom-up”, employee-led approach.
At the Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship, we structure our training programs and consulting services around four phases of innovation: ideation, discovery, incubation and launch. In brief, the ideation phase focuses on teasing out the best ideas and selecting which ones to concentrate on, as well as putting together the right team to carry those ideas forward. Discovery is where the team’s entrepreneurial skills and mindset are put into practice with a corporate startup accelerator to produce problem-solution fit. Next, agile product development skills are leveraged to build and test the solution in the incubation phase, followed by the launch phase where the product is released to market in a Go To Market Pilot.
What can a corporate entrepreneurship consultant do for your business?
Corporate entrepreneurship is a win-win situation, and for the companies that invest in it, the pay off can be massive. Running a successful innovation initiative however, is notoriously difficult, with failure statistically more likely than success.
Working with a corporate entrepreneurship consultant to design and implement an effective intrapreneurship program, plus educating and motivating select employees with a corporate entrepreneurship course can reduce the failure rate from 90 percent, to a more tolerable 30 percent or lower. The consequences of this success can be transformational for your business. Here are just some of the effects:
Feeding the product pipeline
Providing the conditions and nurturing a culture where corporate entrepreneurship can flourish, means that new ideas are being generated and developed continuously. This enables companies to have a steady flow of new innovations moving through their product or service pipeline, which translates to future revenue streams and business security.
Attracting and retaining talented employees
Employees who naturally have a flair for entrepreneurship and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo, easily become frustrated in companies where these qualities are not valued, potentially leaving to pursue ideas on their own. However, employees who work for organisations that foster corporate entrepreneurship, providing the right structure and support for them to progress innovative ideas, are likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction. This leads to lower staff turnover rates and also attracts similarly-minded talent from outside the organisation.
Securing long-lasting competitive advantage
Employees are often the best source of insight into their customers’ pain points, or previously unidentified opportunities in the market that the company can capitalise on. Tapping into their creativity and ideas gives organisations a competitive edge that is unique to them. Given the right support and freedom, employees can come up with the type of new products and services that push the boundaries of an organisation’s comfort zone, but in return, have the potential for significant rewards.
Creating an intrapreneurial culture
For many companies, the most difficult aspect of introducing intrapreneurship to their organisation is effecting a shift in culture. In all probability, most companies already have employees who possess the intrapreneurial spirit, but this alone is not enough. Business leaders must also change their mindset and buy into the benefits of allowing employees to drive innovation, reducing the barriers to doing so, and encouraging employees to be creative.
The process becomes easier once innovation programs start to produce results for the business. At this stage, all levels of the organisation begin to take inspiration from, and become motivated by the success of others, embracing the possibility of what is achievable.
There is no doubting that a successful intrapreneurship program can boost the profitability of a company. The most obvious benefit comes in the form of new products, services or businesses, but employees can also be an excellent source of ideas for innovative process improvements within the business, driving efficiencies and reducing costs. In addition, a well-run intrapreneurship program results in employees who are more engaged and productive, which ultimately has a positive effect on the organisation’s bottom line.
Bringing it all together
The key to surviving and thriving in today’s tough business environment is embracing intrapreneurship as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Companies who lack the necessary in-house experience and expertise however, may struggle to develop an effective intrapreneurship program.
Working with a skilled corporate entrepreneurship consultant and implementing a successful intrapreneurship program has the potential to transform a business. Companies who do it well can look forward to a consistent stream of products or services in their product pipeline, easier recruitment and retention of talented employees, achieving competitive advantage, developing a culture that embraces intrapreneurship, and ultimately, boosting the company’s bottom line.