What Kind of Franchisee Are You: Entrepreneur or Intrapreneur?

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What is an ‘intrapreneur’, you ask? And how is it different from an entrepreneur? In this article, we’re going to explain the difference between intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs and outline which franchise opportunities suit these two distinct types of businesspeople.


When it comes to our professional personalities, everyone’s different. Some people are happy to follow instructions and thrive when given more guidance, whereas others resent being told what to do and work best when allowed plenty of freedom.

But when it comes to running a business, you may not know which camp you fall into. You might crave the freedom and independence that you can’t achieve as an employee but worry that you’ll fail without anyone there to guide you. If that sounds like you, you’re probably an intrapreneur.

The beauty of franchising is that it offers a more supported route to business ownership. However, some people with a traditional entrepreneur mindset might think that it’s too restrictive, or that they’ll have to follow a set of rules. Not sure which one you fall into? Here’s how you can determine whether you’re an intrapreneur or entrepreneur, and which franchises suit either type of person.

What is an intrapreneur?

Most people have heard of the term entrepreneur, defined by Oxford Languages as a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’. It’s what we call most people who strike out on their own, whether they set up a franchise or standalone business. The word entrepreneur connotes an independent person who wants to do things their way, without guidance or input from others.

Instead, many identify more with the idea of ‘intrapreneurship’ – a concept pioneered by Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot in the late ‘70s. The term is used to describe individuals that showcase entrepreneurial behaviour but within a large organisation. The Pinchot’s published a whitepaper report in 1978 titled ‘Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship’, that explored how large companies could get more out of their staff by fostering an entrepreneurial way of working.

A franchisee sits somewhere between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Franchisees aren’t employed by their franchisor and only receive support and guidance, yet don’t have the complete freedom of a traditional entrepreneur.


Am I an entrepreneur or intrapreneur?

If you’re thinking about becoming a franchisee, it’s important to find a franchise that suits you. Working out whether you have an intrapreneur or an entrepreneur mindset can help you make that decision.

Qualities of an intrapreneur

Intrapreneurs thrive with structure and guidance in place. They have the desirable aspects of an entrepreneurial mindset, like self-motivation and the ability to work independently. However, they feel happier and more confident in their abilities if they have something (like established company policies or franchise guidelines) to direct and support them through tricky times. Most people who are intrapreneurs are already managers or have some kind of responsibility in their salaried role, making them capable of the challenge of becoming their own boss.

The key attribute of an intrapreneur is the willingness to follow someone else’s rules. Not everyone with excellent leadership skills and an entrepreneurial outlook has a great idea for a business. You might also crave financial rewards that jobs for someone with your experience and skillset just can’t offer. Many of these people also lack the confidence to go it alone, making a structured and supported franchise a fantastic option.

Qualities of an entrepreneur

True entrepreneurs are most commonly compelled to start a business because:

  • They want to work for themselves, on their terms
  • They have a great idea for a business that doesn’t yet exist

Entrepreneurs are often born from a desire for independence, either creatively or structurally. They are likely to become business owners due to a lack of freedom during their time as an employee. Entrepreneurs may have grown tired of seemingly pointless policies and outdated methods that cause a hindrance to innovative ideas and operations.

You might think this outlook is incompatible with franchising, but that’s not always the case. A highly independent mindset can be a positive quality that helps you thrive, as not every franchise has a strict set of rules about how franchisees should operate. You could also view franchising as a stepping-stone to business ownership from employment, which might make it easier for you to operate within the guidelines of your franchise.

Even if you’ve got a great idea for a business, you might find that a franchise already exists offering a product or service that’s very similar to yours. If all you’ve got is an idea, but none of the business know-how or confidence to get it out there, investing in a franchise could be the best thing you ever do.

Best franchises for intrapreneurs

Some highly successful and well-established franchise brands come with a comprehensive set of operational guidelines. A sandwich franchise like Subway, for example, has a strong brand that is immediately recognisable across the world, from its location design to its language. Many fast-food franchises have similarly structured franchise packages, which restricts the freedom of the franchisee but offers the potential to generate impressive financial returns.

Other great options for intrapreneurs are restaurant franchises and retail franchises. Both usually have more thorough franchise guidelines, as maintaining brand consistency across physical stores and locations often requires more input from a franchisor. You can find highly supportive franchises across every sector. Keep your eyes peeled for a franchise package that offers help with challenging areas like location selection, marketing, and initial client or lead generation.

Best franchises for entrepreneurs

If you value independence on your franchising journey, you still have plenty of options. A business coaching franchise like ActionCOACH could be a great option. You’ll use your experience as an employee to guide the UK’s businesses through tough times, whether that’s a global recession or something as small as a lack of direction. Every franchisee is free to build a network of clients on their own terms and can even employ additional coaches to help them expand their business.

It’s tough to generalise which franchises will suit entrepreneurial people, as there’s no single sector where franchisors employ a hands-off approach. Everyone is different and there may be compromises you’re willing to make that are out of the question for other entrepreneurs. For example, a van-based franchise might appeal to independent-minded people, as you can choose your hours and won’t have to worry about maintaining a brick and mortar location.

Make sure you’re up-front about any areas you’re not willing to compromise as a franchisee. It’s better to find out that a franchise isn’t for you before signing on the dotted line, as it can be difficult and expensive to back out of a franchise agreement. Besides, you might find that your franchisor is happy to be more flexible if you’re the perfect candidate to join the network.


Find your perfect match

Franchising is a great way to become your own boss without the daunting prospect of launching an independent business. Even if your franchise is a stepping-stone on the journey to starting your own company, there’s something out there for everyone. But if you’re not sure that a franchise is for you, make sure you do your research before committing to the idea as the financial and legal consequences of making the wrong choice can be big. We have franchises for every kind of person, so check out our UK franchise directory for more inspiration.

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