Say you have a great idea for a new product or service in your field of expertise but you are reluctant to take the plunge, quit your job and start your own business. You know that launching this venture on your own would be risky, stressful and costly. There is an alternative – stay with your current employer and become an ‘intrapreneur’ – someone who acts as an entrepreneur but inside an established organisation. Most companies recognise the need for more innovation and actively encourage employees to suggest and develop new business ideas. Here are eight key ways to help make your idea happen.
- Find out what suggestion schemes and innovation programmes are already in place inside the organisation. Could you harness one of these?
- Align your idea with corporate goals and direction. Your big idea will be easier to sell if it fits in with corporate mission, values and strategy.
- Solve a customer need. Look for a simpler, faster or better way to solve a problem for customers. If you can show that this idea will cost less, sell more, save time, expand into new markets or increase profits then you are more likely to get the backing you need.
- Get your boss’s support. Sell the benefits. Show that it will be good for him or her if this initiative succeeds. Ask for their ideas and input. Request time to devote to the project and suggest constructive ways in which some of your current tasks could be delegated.
- Gather a network of allies. Involve people from other departments and get their ideas, help and support. A high-level sponsor would be a great help too. Watch out for turf wars, envy and internal politics so choose your crew carefully.
- Build a prototype. Make a mock-up of the product. For an app show a series of screen layouts. For a service develop a story board. Unless the idea is so revolutionary that it can be patented, show the prototype to some customers and gather fast feedback.
- Prepare a killer presentation. Show that you have thought through the risks as well as the upsides. Fully cost your plan. Present the feedback from clients (positive and negative). Test your pitch with some colleagues before presenting to senior executives. Clearly ask for the resources you need. Don’t downplay the challenges you face.
- Don’t be too precious about your big idea. Seek advice. Listen to criticisms and feedback. Involve others and share any success or praise with your colleagues and your boss.
Most new product initiatives fail so try your best but do not be down-hearted if your first project flops. Try again. Whatever happens you will have raised your profile, learnt a lot and made some handy contacts. You will now be seen as a real go-getter. It could be the start of something great.