A BRAND STORY: Entrepreneurship Vs. Intrapreneurship

Where were we? Oh the WhatsApp buyout. Brian Acton like earlier stated had tried securing employment at both Yahoo and Facebook; losing out on both. We know the story by know. Many people are employed, yet few are intrapreneurs. An intrapreneur, according to my layman definition, is one who is under employment; but works having the mindset of a business owner. How many of us employed can claim to own their jobs? We work at jobs we do not like for different reasons; the pay, because we have to, lack of choice, fear of venturing out with our ideas, and many more. Few are the guys iHave met who genuinely love what they do, how they do it, and where they do it. Many are the hair-raising stories iHave personally been part of, and witnessed; of Horrible Bosses (remember the movie?)

An entrepreneur on the other hand, takes a risk, and ventures into the shark-infested world of business with nothing more than an idea; and the belief they can impact society in one way or another. Acton was benched from the school of intrapreneurship, and thrust into the entrepreneurship field. His partner Jan Koum hates the word entrepreneur by the way; going as far as saying his bodyguard will punch anyone who calls him that, hehe. My thinking is this, were Acton and Koum your average employees who clock in from nine to five, it would not have made any difference to the success of their venture when they started out. They would have fizzled out as many who have not defined their WHY do. However, they had a burning desire, a common trait amongst all game-changers; to see their idea to fruition. Your success as an individual is not dependent on your boss, your colleagues, or your work environment. Personal branding dictates that you set your personal standards. The bar that you alone know you can reach in relation to your capabilities, resources at hand, and the limitless power of imagination. The twist is your success as an employer is dependent on your employees. Your vision has to be internalized by those you hire, for it to have optimal impact to your target clientele.

Scarcity mentality dictates that there is a small piece of the pie for us, so we must fight to get the crumbs. We backbite, malign, falsify, to get ahead of those we deem our competition; at work, business and in life. iRead somewhere “iDo not want a piece of the pie, iWant the recipe”. This mindset is rare. Who said we cannot have all that we desire, or achieve our full potential in whichever endeavor we set to pursue? The dreams, goals, passion you experience are true to only you. Wow, iAm preaching here! My point is, regardless of whether you are an intrapreneur or entrpreneuer; your perspective will determine your output. Many have made it in life being career civil servants/ employees. Others have never been employed a day in their lives. Your ability to re-invent yourself no matter the curveballs life throws at you, will determine your finish line. Acton’s crystal ball would never have predicted the irony that his rejection would be a stepping stone to his joining the $ billionaire ranks.

Back to horrible bosses. iHave had the pleasure of working for the most, for lack of a better word, disturbed entrepreneurs. There was this lady who found fault with everyone, everyone! The tales of the people who have quit/ been fired on her account could fill a small novel. iHad a run in with her, reason why, to this date iHave no idea. iThink the shape of my nose must have rattled her, like Flynn rider in Tangled, the animation classic of Rapunzel. Let’s just say she was the earthly depiction of the white witch we read about in fables, cold, conniving, and downright nasty. The positive from this? She inadvertently fired the burners in my entrepreneurship journey, where iSwore before God and man; that no one would ever make me feel inferior ever again, without my consent (thank you Eleanor Roosevelt for that apt quote).

Tales to tell. iWonder why entrepreneurs in Kenya start businesses, yet treat their employees like mops. These are the first touch points the customer encounter. They are the face of the brand at that moment in time. Any outcome, be it positive, lies squarely in this employee. The Kenyan way of employee management is threats. The popular one is as there is a high rate of employment; you have been done for a favor by being hired. What happened to HR professionals actually doing their work? Very few companies in Kenya, multinationals included, can dare do an internal brand audit; where employees freely express themselves in matters related to the organization. We are stuck in a time warp, a master-slave relationship where the carrot and stick approach is favored. Brand identity and Brand image are miles apart. Who you say you are, versus who you actually are, is crater-wide.

iSpeak from experience, and did warn you earlier that Brand is extremely emotive. Allow me to vent because the theory of mentorship in SMEs in Kenya is simply that, a theory! Maybe it is in our nature, maybe we are not so sure of ourselves that we think our employees will steal our ideas (which they usually do!); but something has got to give. Employers cannot afford to be two-faced. It does not make business sense, is highly unethical, and unbiblical. Charity begins at home. You either walk the talk in your own enterprise, or suffer the consequences of employee turnover, together with client hijacks; and subsequent costs of re-hiring, then firing (an endless cycle). The consumer gets short-changed when your ego is in the way of service/ product delivery. Let’s call a spade a spade. We have become too comfortable with mediocre services, where we resort to PR and marketing gimmicks to stay relevant, at the expense of creativity and differentiation; yet the underlying cobwebs are not dealt with. The public sector is no different, ego-play between our ‘leaders’ on who has bigger guns.

The solution is simple. Let us all collectively step up to the plate, and be counted. Employee or employer, are you worthy being emulated? Are you who you say you are? When the chickens come home to roost, will you be left with an egg on your face, or will they nest on your head? Tafakari hayo. Let us deal with horrible bosses next time; we have barely scratched their surface….


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