Building LandmarkShops.com was our time in history to unleash the dormant ‘intrapreneur’ within.
That’s almost everything an entrepreneur goes through when building a new business, but with a slight twist – we didn’t do it as a fresh, unheard of entity; we did it from deep within the belly of a massive, existing, retail powerhouse.
That makes you wonder about some of the differences and similarities between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. Here’s how I see it.
Seed capital for LandmarkShops.com came from Management, not a venture capital fund.
The advantage? No running around with your pitch and plan to figure out who’s ready to financially back you up. You know from the start who’s backing you up.
And given that you’re building a new business for your backers, they are already vested in making sure you succeed. That helps.
ACCESS TO RESOURCES
Wherever we lacked a dedicated resource, we bootstrapped and powered through with shared resources borrowed from existing concepts.
That right there is a huge Intranpreneurial plus point – the ready availability of smart, knowledgeable and resourceful people from within your organisation, who are just an extension call away for support.
On the more entrepreneurial side, there’s no real concept of hiring from within, because you have no ‘within’. You’re starting from nothing.
On the intrapreneural side, the option may exist. And that can speed things up. It’s not easy. You can’t poach, because that isn’t fair and you’ll only end up burning bridges with whoever you’re trying to poach from.
However, if you, your internal talent and their line manager can all agree on the wisdom of an internal transfer, that’s another winner for the intrapreneurial way.
We didn’t have to hunt too hard for office space. We already had our assigned workspaces in our Corporate headquarters, and were working from within it.
This may not sound like a biggie, but it was one less thing to worry about. And that gave us more time to focus on building the business at hand.
Yes, we did end up moving to our third office, which was our first dedicated Web Team office, but we had help in determining location options, as well as doing the place up. That undoubtedly made life a little easier.
Those were some of the differences. The list of similarities would include:
ORGANICALLY BUILDING TEAMS
Like any good startup, each of our teams were built from scratch. Customer Support, Finance, Content Management, Copywriting, Photography, you name it.
Is building fresh teams any different from what entrepreneurs do? Not really.
DOING NEW THINGS YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D DO
Launching LandmarkShops.com involved us stepping out of our comfort zone on several occasions.
An example: Historically, we’ve focused our efforts on the Product side of the business, or more specifically on the elements surrounding Product – Strategy, Design, Engineering, Management and Marketing.
However, building this new business involved learning lots about how warehouses work, how their software worked, how warehouse teams are structured, who the right suppliers are, how racking works, streamlining logistics processes, and so on.
This new insight develops when you work with smart, knowledgeable and experienced folk in divisions that you’ve not explored as yet. Which we did, and now know a bit more on.
Another example: Building our Customer Support team was another new experience that we hadn’t had the opportunity to do before.
How large should our initial team be? What telephony systems should we use and why? Who’s going to set this up for us? What about automated messages? How will they be structured and what should they sound like?
All of these questions were answered by connecting with more experienced colleagues, getting their assistance, and figuring the rest out.
Again, ask any entrepreneur and they’ll probably tell you that they stepped out of their comfort zones dozens of times when building their businesses. Any real difference here? Not quite.
MAKING MISTAKES, RECOVERING, LEARNING LESSONS
Given the greenfield territory we were in, where we were tasked with building an online retail business on a scale never attempted in the history of the organisation before, we naturally made a bunch of mistakes along the way.
Over-thinking some things, under-thinking others and so on. The results of those blunders were stressful and painful and we took a couple of butt-kickings along the way.
But we always managed to get ourselves together and figure something out. And that right there is the key to pulling something off – figuring the damn thing out.
That leads to recovery, getting back on track, and moving forward. Equally important as all of that is, is to think about what we learned from those bloopers. And commit to never letting that happen again.
Do entrepreneurs not burn their fingers along the way? Of course they do. Again, no difference between the two.
WRAPPING IT UP
While us LandmarkShops.com team members continue to be employees in one of the most successful retail organisations in the Middle East and India, we can now proudly and confidently add ‘Intranpreneur’ to our profiles.
We built a new business together, and we did it from within. We were in the trenches together during the best and worst of times, and came out alive both wiser and more knowledgeable about things.
We laughed, we cried, we high-fived each other when milestones were hit, and rethought our lives when all hell broke loose. But we did it. We launched the 26th business for the Landmark Group, and what we most biasedly think is the most exciting.
That, we believe, is the value of being intranpreneurs, which is essentially the same as being entrepreneurs: PRICELESS.