If there is currently a strong upsurge in entrepreneurship around the world, as every day we find loads of articles reviewing what are the top traits that define an entrepreneur, there is also a new word that is discreetly heard here and there: “innerpreneur”.
But what is an innerpreneur ? To define it properly we need to go back in time and look at another set of words, such as creative economy and cultural creatives.
A few years ago, the “Creative Economy” began being intensely debated in the Western media. Some spoke of a “creative class” and others forecasted the impact of such class and economy in the “making of the world” and the economy in general.
The word “creative” became so “buzzed” that Bill Gates even appropriated it to the corporate context, by saying at the World Economic Forum in 2008 that our world needed ‘creative capitalism’ as a solution to its problems. He mentioned: “The challenge here is to design a system where market incentives, including profits and recognition, drive those principles to do more for the poor. (…) I like to call this idea creative capitalism, an approach where governments, businesses, and nonprofits work together to stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world’s inequities.”
In his speech Bill Gates described what he meant by creative capitalism: “Creative capitalism takes this interest in the fortunes of others and ties it to our interest in our own fortunes in ways that help advance both. This hybrid engine of self-interest and concern for others can serve a much wider circle of people than can be reached by self-interest or caring alone.”
When speaking about Creative Capitalism, Bill Gates was probably following up and adapting to the corporate world, the ideas researched by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson. They published in 2000 a book that aimed to describe how a large part of Western society had “moved forward from the standard paradigm of Modernists versus Conservatives”. They called that group of people as the cultural creatives, presenting the findings of their research in the book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. According to the authors, in 2000, circa 50 million adult Americans and probably about 80-90 million Europeans were all part of this group. But what did it meant to be a cultural creative ? According to the book their main traits were:
- Their deep love for nature and their serious concerned about its destruction.
- Increased awareness of the challenges faced by our planet, such as global warming, destruction of rain-forests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability, inequality.
- A willingness to take action into contributing for the solution of such problems by limiting economic growth, allocating.
- Strong feeling of connection with other human being and praising the values of collaboration, sharing and connectedness.
- Willingness to participate in volunteering work
- Being interested in spiritual development
- Interested and willing to take action towards more gender equality in business and politics
- Interested in the allocation of governmental resources in well-being, and interested in the rebuilding of the neighborhoods and communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future
In general, the cultural creative, as described in the book, tended to be somewhat optimistic about our future, and refused to listen to the cynical and pessimistic views given by the media, being aware though, of the need of their active participation in creating a new and better way of life in their countries, that down played the old stereotype of “what is success” and what is “to make it.”
The book anticipated more of what would come and consolidate a decade later: a critical mass of a population that was “culturally creative” which accelerated in number and effective action due to the improvements and innovations brought by technology, such as all the different social media networks and communication devices. These facilitated and made it a real fact, the metaphorical notion of our interconnectedness.
Various studies followed the pioneering work done by Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson. In 2007 Ron Rentel published Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs that mapped in more detail the various sub-types of the cultural creatives. One of such subtypes was the :
This book maps nine types of people that seem to be setting the trends in art, music, technology, fashion, health, and every kind of consumer product and service. The authors categories based themselves on thousands of hours of consumer research conducted by Consumer Eyes: a leading New York-based marketing firm. One of such categories was the Innerpreneurs. Innerpreneurs are the chief managers of their own “brand,” they find their inspiration within themselves
An innerpreneur is then an entrepreneur who uses her or his business to find personal fulfilment (creatively, spiritually, emotionally) and create social change.
Innerpreneurs find their inspiration within themselves and start their businesses as a way to achieve their personal growth rather than that of the company. Driven by a strong purpose, they find their personal fulfillment and satisfaction through their work. While entrepreneurs use their business for monetary gain, “innerpreneurs” use their business to find personal fulfillment (creatively, spiritually, emotionally) and create social change. Some of the traits of an innerpreneur are:
- high need for achievement and independence
- low need for conformity
- propensity for risk-taking
Further characteristics of an Innerpreneur are:
- they believe you should do what you are and what you love
- they see the world in a different way than most
- they let their values and passion for exploration guide their life
- they have an innate need to be creative and honest, and to follow their own unique path
- they want to make things different; they are attracted to industries that improve the world
- they may alternate periods of career focus with periods of reflection and/or adventure
Innerpreneurs are many times the ones leading social businesses, as they aim to make a difference, and are in a permanent process of learning and evolution. With their social businesses they aim to contribute positively to society.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.