Internal Entrepreneurs Spur Business Growth

Mar 20, 2012

Brilliant innovators are not limited to the list of entrepreneurs who have started billion-dollar companies. In fact, he or she could be sitting in the cubicle next to you. A new study from Forbes Insights finds that while the few entrepreneurs who build famous companies grab the most headlines and public attention, there are hundreds of thousands of “internal entrepreneurs” or “employee innovators” throughout businesses of all sizes. In a recent article, Forbes considered the importance of internal entrepreneurs in business growth.

While the study looked at internal entrepreneurs throughout Europe, the lessons learned hold true for businesses everywhere. The study found that, regardless of size, companies tend to hold similar proportions of employee innovators. For businesses with 10 to 49 employees, 12% are developing new ideas and pushing them through the corporate process. For mid-sized companies with 500 to 999 employees, internal entrepreneurs account for nearly a quarter of the company workforce. And for companies with revenue between $100 million and $1 billion, 20% of employees are thinking and acting like innovative entrepreneurs.

Businesses must maintain a focus on innovation and growth or they inevitably lose their competitive edge. In-house entrepreneurial and innovation capacity are part of gaining that edge. Employee innovators develop new ideas, products, technologies, processes, and strategies that allow companies to evolve, compete, and grow.

Some of the traits employee innovators present include: an enterprising spirit and innovative thinking; skilled problem solving; an extroverted personality; a sense that rocking the boat and avoiding internal conflict are secondary priorities to advancing the business; and perhaps most importantly, says Forbes, internal entrepreneurs are masters at network building. This final trait is important because aligning co-workers behind a new idea can help push an idea through bureaucratic channels. Networks also give internal entrepreneurs an opportunity to test and improve ideas, making innovation that much more beneficial to the company.

Read the full story about how internal entrepreneurs drive business growth.

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