In many companies, there are godfather figures. These are people who have paid their dues and are safe from everyday petty politics. They are relatively untouchable and usually have the attention and respect of top management. Internal entrepreneurs should find a godfather to support their projects by providing advice, technical and marketing insights, and protection—if it comes to the point where you need protection.
An internal entrepreneur, sitting in the main flow of a big company, will die by a thousand cuts as each department manager explains why this new project is a bad idea. “The new always looks so puny—so unpromising—next to the reality of the massive, ongoing business.”* The Macintosh Division started in a building that was far enough away from the rest of Apple that it stayed out of the daily grind, but was close enough to obtain corporate resources. A separate building will keep your efforts under the radar and foster ésprit de corps among your merry band of pirates. The ideal distance...
tectonic shifts signal changes and may create an opportunity for your efforts. Effective internal entrepreneurs anticipate these shifts and are ready to unveil new products or services when they occur: “Look what we’ve been working on.” By contrast, corporate pukes say, “Now I see the shift. If you give me permission, six months, and a team of analysts, I can come up with a new product strategy.”
The day will inevitably arrive when a bean counter or lawyer is suddenly going to take notice of you and question the reasons for your project’s existence. If you’re lucky, this will happen later rather than sooner, but it will happen. Prepare for that day by (1) collecting data about how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve accomplished and (2) then sharing it openly.