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Being an Intrapreneur

Recently I was chatting with a co-worker in my shared workspace, who asked: “what’s it like being an intrapreneur, Dario - it must be great?” Of course, my first reaction was: “I’m not an entrepreneur…?” I’m an employee of Blake. Some confusion followed until he explained: “not an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur – you work independently, but within a large organisation.”

It really got me thinking.

Working remotely in Edinburgh, as part of an exciting new initiative with Blake, to develop the concept of opening ‘Hubs of Excellence’ in a number of strategic UK locations through 2017, I do often have to think and behave like an entrepreneur.

The principal aim of the Hubs is to provide each UK area with an expert in the field of envelopes and postal packaging.

Focusing on innovation and creativity to make my “business-within-a-business” into a profitable venture within an already successful and established organisational environment, means I’m essentially a mobile “inside entrepreneur” who follows the strategic goals of my organisation.

How traditional working practices have changed!

Or have they? 

At Blake, we already have (and have had for many years) – many intrapreneurs, by definition. People, within the business, who have had the courage and flexibility to think outside the box, to go that bit further without being asked and who have taken ownership of their respective departments. These intrapreneurs are, in effect, both employees and leaders – self-motivating, creative and proactive. They have worked on ideas that have gone on to influence or change strategic direction, but with the resources, capabilities and security of the wider company to draw upon.

Driven by Michael Barter, a Managing Director who instils a notion of “treat the company like it’s your own and in return you will share in the success”, helps foster this attitude and is endorsed by a satisfied, motivated workforce with a low turnover of staff.

In my first 7 months with Blake, I’ve been encouraged, supported and – most importantly – trusted to have a pro-entrepreneurial approach. And it’s worked. I believe that’s because Blake has built a structure and embedded values to support intrapreneurship, which is having a positive impact on organisational growth and profitability.

There can, of course, be a number of challenges to being an intrapreneur, especially when working from a remote location. Many companies struggle with applying the concept, this can be for different reasons, which can include a lack of time, defined tasks/schedules that deter opportunities, lack of reward for entrepreneurial behaviour, fear of failure. Lack of trust. Hierarchy, bureaucracy and rules that may not even support intrapreneurial culture and behaviour.

And for those working in remote locations, there can be the issues of isolation, motivation and discipline.  To overcome any potential drawbacks, I have ensured that I follow the general routine of a “normal” working person – keeping to standard hours, setting daily objectives, having regular contact with the team during the course of a day, meeting with clients, taking a lunch break and contributing to a daily report, which - in return – gives me an overview on the company performance for the day.

By being afforded flexibility, I have an improved work-life balance which has resulted in increased productivity. I’m not interrupted in the same way you would be if you worked in a “traditional” office, therefore concentration is improved which has helped the quality of my work.

That said, we – as people – do require social connections. Using a co-working space in Edinburgh has been of great benefit. Not only has this provided much-needed interaction (outside of client meetings), it’s also increased my network and being around other professionals from a range of industries including: property, design, international recruitment and PR, has proved to be motivational in both my professional and personal life.

Looking ahead at 2017 here at Blake, we aim to develop this even further. After success in Scotland, the same principles will be applied in key locations around the UK, including London, Manchester and Leeds as well as in Yeovil HQ. Our new intrapreneurs will be empowered, encouraged to be innovative, flexible and to embrace the intrapreneurial attitude.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of this, and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

If you are considering remote working for you company, want to share some of your own ‘intrapreneurial’ experiences or if you would like to know more about the opportunities within Blake, it would be great to hear from you.

Dario Valente, Edinburgh Hub