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Ignite Your Team and Your Practice with Intrapreneurial Opportunities

burning match
By Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

Do you want to ignite your practice by engaging your top team members? To take your practice to the next level, infuse your culture with an intrapreneurial mindset!


“Intrapreneur [noun]: An intrapreneur is an employee who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a new product or service. An intrapreneur brings entrepreneurial thinking and skills to build within the structure of an existing organization.”1

Many years ago, in my first position with a private practice, I was excited, ambitious, and always looking for new challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, after a few years of working within the practice, I found myself looking to make a change. It may have been fortuitous that at the same time, the practice owner scheduled a lunch meeting and started asking genuine questions about my interests and my future.

Over a long lunch, she listened closely and acknowledged the importance of keeping me feeling challenged and growing in my career. She told me that she wanted me to be able to continue to grow within the practice, and then she introduced the concept of intraprenuerialism. She offered to collaborate with me to explore my passions and help me to build a business plan. She also assured me that she would provide both the coaching and the support I would need to execute a few of my best ideas. Over the next year, we decided on two mutually beneficial programs and services and started to grow new service lines for the practice.

One program resulted in a multimillion-dollar program that significantly added to the practice’s bottom line and continued long after I left. Another outcome was that I remained at that practice for over 16 years of service. I learned so much and contributed even more. It was truly a win-win!

Consider the importance of creating opportunities for intrepreneurialism for your practice. According to Forbes, one way to do this is to “evangelize upskilling, reskilling, and learning and development (L&D) initiatives.”2


Follow this simple six-step process to get started:

Step 1: Identify your team members who are ambitious and creative, but also restless. Keep in mind that these could be anyone on your team, whether therapists, assistants, or administrative staff.

Step 2: Connect with these individuals one-on-one and elicit their interests, ideas, and passions. Really listen and help them home in on the strengths in their current performance.

Step 3: Introduce the concept of intrepreneurialism and your commitment to help them grow — and in doing so, grow your practice. Share the advantages of intrepreneurialism, which include “the ability to gain greater job satisfaction, because you’re able to exercise your creativity, take a leadership position, build your credibility, and make a meaningful impact on the business, all within a reasonably safe environment.”3

Step 4: With each employee, brainstorm ideas of ways they can use their strengths that will also bolster your practice. Work together to identify one, or a few, that you can begin incorporating into their job responsibilities.

Step 5: Help each employee develop a business plan for implementing their new role in a way that will both increase profits and ensure they continue to derive satisfaction from their work at your clinic. Once the plan is completed, provide the coaching and support to help make it happen.

Step 6: Measure the ROI to ensure the plan is effective. You may need to revisit it to make adjustments or try a new approach, but with patience, you will find something that satisfies both of your needs — and then you will be able to see both your employees and your practice thrive!


Felt comfortable with the process above? Take intrapreneurialism to the next level by coaching your leaders to coach those beneath them to become intrapreneurs. Consider building a formal leadership program that teaches your team how to champion the ideas of others. 


1Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Essential English Dictionary. 2nd edition.

2Link J. “Intrapreneurial Leadership Is More Necessary Than Ever.” Published October 1, 2020.

3Chamorro-Premuzic T. Why You Should Become an “Intrapreneur.” https://hbr.org/2020/03/why-you-should-become-an-intrapreneur. Published March 26, 2020.

Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT, is president and consultant of Steffes & Associates, a national rehabilitation consulting group focused on marketing and program development for private practices nationwide. She is an instructor in five physical therapy programs and has actively presented, consulted, and taught in 40 states. She can be reached at steffbiz@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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