Entrepreneurial Personality: The Human Side of Business
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The following is an abbreviated version of an earlier work Bibby Group published on the entrepreneurial personality. This subject is a significant part of the Focus Program for Emerging Entrepreneurs, as our years of consulting demonstrates that the human side of business may be the most interesting.
While certain adjectives might accurately describe some entrepreneurs, they are not a universal description of all. In fact, short of saying that all entrepreneurs work for themselves, it is foolish to define them as one personality type or with one string of adjectives. So, here’s a different look at the human side of business; the entrepreneurial personality.
Entrepreneurs are people, and no two are just alike. To think differently, the emerging entrepreneur can create an internal strain trying to act like or think like a person that is not them. Not only do different industries tend to attract different personalities, the drives or motivations of entrepreneurs in even the same line of business can attract different types of people. Acknowledging the presence of different entrepreneurial personalities helps people accept sub-sets of entrepreneurs and therefore, helps prospective entrepreneurs better accept their own potential if a stereotype is discarded. For students of the subject, and especially for people considering or actually pursuing an entrepreneurial lifestyle, grasping the nature of the entrepreneurial personality can be critical to one’s success or failure.
Then again, while there’s no ‘string’ of adjectives describing all entrepreneurs there is ‘one trait’ common to all.
All entrepreneurs can be properly defined by one special trait, but that trait is not aggression, dominance, leadership, intelligence, integrity, or loyalty. Any or all of those traits can be found in populations other than the self-employed.
The one element that separates entrepreneurs from all others is their extra measure of independence.
Of course, there are varying degrees of independence and varying degrees of executive talent, but those issues are associated with the different entrepreneurial “types” mentioned above. The key point is that entrepreneurs are different from other people and non-entrepreneurs cannot fully come to terms with that difference because they are not driven by the same need for independence. A different feeling exists inside. The banker, government administrator, or teacher who works with the entrepreneur may understand the business they are advising, but they do not understand the entrepreneur’s heart, and therefore cannot apply their advice directly to or for the business owner. A gap exists that is real, and that gap generally creates a divide between the entrepreneur and the rest of the world that is difficult to bridge. Less than 10% of us are involved in some type of entrepreneurial venture; the other 90% do not live in or understand that world. One might accept that NASCAR drivers love speed, but that’s a far cry from understanding what that need for speed feels like. It’s the implementation of tools and systems that requires the hands-on person. Coaching, teaching and advising are NOT the same as doing, and that point is often missed in the business of serving and helping entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneur is driven by independence and supported by varying degrees of knowledge and executive skills. Further, it is the varying level of aptitudes, knowledge and independence that determines entrepreneurial type. The Focus Program takes great pains to help emerging entrepreneurs analyze these issues in order to make better decisions.