Ever dream of leaving your middle-management job and striking out on your own? For a lot of people, the glamour of the start-up is tempered by the very real danger of losing your safety net — especially at a time when most folks are hoping the economic slowdown doesn't claim the job they already have. Maybe you like your current employer, but you can see yourself — and the company — doing much more. In either case, you're a prime candidate for "intrapreneurship": the art of spearheading a new product, service, or other venture within an existing firm.
On the surface, it looks like a win-win situation. You get to follow your dreams without having to make the business equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, and the company broadens its business. But launching a start-up within an up-and-running concern is trickier than it looks. Company politics, battles about resources, and entrenched or unenlightened management can leave you dreaming once again of that start-up in the garage. Read on to learn the do's and don'ts of intrapreneurship from successful innovators at big companies; get essential tips from a Wal-Mart veteran; find inspiration in our innovation hall of fame; and watch our video to find out what it takes to become an intrapreneur.