Want to Witness The Marriage of Intrapreneurship with Entrepreneurship?

What do you just LOVE about what you do?

Some, like this rockstar who sent me a message not too long ago, are curious about how they can do more of it:

“I just listened to an interview you did last year with Leanne Hughes over at First Time Facilitator. It was actually the first episode of hers I’ve ever listened to, and your interview was great. It hit home for me on so many levels. I’m also in Ontario – but way up north. I have trained through the ICA Institute a couple of years ago through my employer.first time facilitator podcast with Leeanne Hughes

Our goal was to facilitate action planning workshops specifically regarding wellness in the corporate workplace. It turns out that I absolutely LOVED facilitating, and it came naturally to me in a way that nothing has before. Unfortunately, it was only on an as-needed basis through the corporation as I hold a completely unrelated (and unfulfilling) role in a different department.

Either way, I’ve been thinking very seriously about trying to branch out on my own and start a facilitation business. I just wanted to say thank you for the relatable interview that makes me feel ready to explore some next steps I can take towards this goal.”

For you Leaders and Business Owners…

Does this quote above make you think, “Yikes! Are all my people planning on fleeing?!Fear not! This can be channelled in the most delicious way. Read on.

Intrapreneurship is the New Black

Many people with deep passions want to stay with you and are looking for ways to bring their new and growing passions and expertise to their current roles. This means they are engaged! Before that engagement shifts outwards, away from your organization:

    • Be on the lookout for intraprenursailism
    • Talk with people about their passions
    • Find ways to capitalize on strengths and interests
    • Explore innovative staffing models like secondments and special projects

Nurturing the intrapreneurial spirit so people don’t have to choose. Like the talented woman who wrote to be above, enable great people to bring their best to the table. They want to! People with entrepreneurial minds at work bring innovation, continuous improvement, and engagement. Even if they aren’t there for long, “rent” their inner entrepreneur while they are with you. It benefits them, and it benefits you. It’s a win-win.

It’s like hitting the talent jackpot. Invest in them (like you’d invest your winnings!)

For you Individuals and Contributors…

Can you relate to what she’s saying? Do you want to do more of what you love in your role? Perhaps you want to stay where you are as long as possible before leaving to work for yourself. Perhaps you want to do both, work for yourself and work for someone else. Here are the tips I gave her:

Look at your whole value proposition

image of the word VALUE and increasingly higher bars behind itHere’s the deal….designations and education are only ONE piece of the value pie. You are the whole package. Consider:

  • What do you know that others don’t?
  • What experience do you have?
  • What successes have you had?
  • What failures have you bounced back from?
  • What are you ridiculously passionate about?

Your value is not measured in professional degrees (unless you’re an astrophysicist or oncologist, and then yes, you’d want those degrees stacked up very nicely, thank you very much!) Don’t underestimate how much of a total package you have to offer – as an intrapreneur or entrepreneur.

Tip 1:Focus on solutions, not services and tasks

What’s most essential is how you solve a problem (or problems) that people are willing to pay for because the problem is so big that they need a solution. The clearer you get on that, the more ready you will be to plant that flag and go for it. And when you do, you will charge what you are worth. The reality is that people pay more for experts than they do generalists. Why? Because they are making an INVESTMENT. It’s also an important reminder for those of us who identify as she/her: we tend to put our heads down and expect people will see our effort (learn more here.) Be known for the solutions you do, not the grind of “getting things done.”

Tip 2: Avoid Comparisonitis

“Never someone’s middle to your beginning.” Someone said to me the other day, “if only I had a clear brand like being Canada’s Recognition Expert with a trademark FROG (Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness) as you do.Spoiler alert: it took me over a year into my business to get comfortable with claiming recognition as my core expertise and a few years more to change my LinkedIn title to “Chief Recognition Officer.” My first website was watered down with “elevate potential” this and “training and consulting” that. *yawn* A million others do that!

My ‘middle’ is having done that hard professional soul searching of how I want to be known and (as the next point shares), what am I most passionate about. That was the turning point to being represented by speakers bureaus, charging what I was worth, and being selective with clients based on a mutually good fit.

If you’re (thinking of) starting out, my beginning was like yours, so focus on the steady gains and get guidance along the way rather than compare. Just like you look up to a professional mentor (arguably intrapreneurs) that are farther in their career, remember fellow entrepreneurs have a journey that might not be as easy to see now.

Tip 3: Do what you know

I had almost 15 years of work experience that validated the exponential power of recognition to transform cultures, and now nine years with clients from just about every industry that further substantiates it. It seems counterintuitive that the more narrow your focus, the more work you get. However, relate it to your life, and you’ll see it makes sense: Do you want a general contractor to put in your gas line or do you trust a gas fitter? If you need the big-picture design, do you now need that general contractor for their project planning expertise? The situation calls for the type of specialist to solve a project and provide the best solution.

Be that person who finds the solution, and you’ll all have lots of value – internally as an entrepreneur or externally as an entrepreneur. Best of all, it will fuel your soul and fill your professional cup.

Tip 4: Be passionate

image of 2 people making a heart with their hands and the sun shining through Dive deep into your biggest passion, the juiciest solution to a huge problem, and one that there’s a hole to be filled. If you are aiming to spend most of your waking hours doing something, you best make sure it makes you jump out of bed, given the pressure you’ll feel working for yourself (with no safety net.) Your passion, some days, will need to carry you. Don’t minimize that passion; you are allowed to make money doing what you love (working need not be a painful grind.) Assume there aren’t others needing your gifts.

For example:

  • Do you want to help women in the building industry speak up and have a voice?
  • Do you want to help college kids start thinking like investors?
  • Do you want to help people build more accessible websites?

Before you jump ship, ask yourself if you can live more of this passion in your workplace. Work, looking back, workplaces provided me with a living laboratory of the exponential power of recognition. So why did I (and many others) doubt that recognition could be the focus of any successful business? If it worked within organizations, why wouldn’t it help other organizations? As my speaker friend Michelle Cederberg says, that’s “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Working for yourself or someone else, do what you love. You can’t fake passion. 

The Age of Intra- and Entrepueuralism

Whether you bring your innovation inside or outside formal workplace structure, I hope this helps you lean into your and your colleagues to lean into areas of genius for greatness. Whether it’s within the job, bringing your intrapreneurial spirit, and working toward entrepreneurship now or one day in the future, there is room for all in our complex world of work of today.

In fact, we have a program that helps you to have the best of both worlds: The Side Hustle Solution: Stay in Your Job AND Work For Yourself. Check it out here.

For more inspiration, check out these delicious conversations between Leanne Hughes and I on her podcast First Time Facilitator:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve