What Type of Entrepreneur Are You?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs come in all different shapes and sizes, backgrounds and talents. Recent media portrayals may convince you otherwise.
Thrust to the small screen just this year are the founding stories of Uber, WeWork and the infamous Theranos, showcasing the extravagance and boldness of building a (sometimes fake) unicorn. The founders exhibit extreme traits of genius, arrogance, and everything in between.
While this may be entrepreneurship at its highest, it also creates a false idea of what entrepreneurship is. Entrepreneurs aren’t a homogenous group.
” There are many paths that entrepreneurs can take to become entrepreneurs. It looks different for everybody and what works for one might not work for another,” says James Camp, TechStars mentor and the founder of Nanoflips. Let’s look at a few types entrepreneurs.
The accidental entrepreneur
The pandemic brought us many horrible things but also opened the door to many “accidental entrepreneurs” — people who either became entrepreneurs out of necessity or were simply bored and found something interesting to work on. Take Connie Cen, a waitress who worked before the pandemic. She lost her job as a waitress during the shutdowns, just like many others in the service sector. For weeks, Connie logged onto her computer at 5: 00 a.m. looking to file for unemployment benefits. Connie was not guaranteed benefits because the virtual lines were so lengthy.
” “One morning, I just cried out my eyes out,” she recalls. “I knew that I couldn’t depend on the government or employers to make a living and be happy. Connie was frustrated and searched online for “how to make money online”. Within weeks, she had her first dollar. It only grew from there, until she sold her six-figure ecommerce business to an Inc. 5000 company. Now she runs Rocketeer Media, an email marketing and SMS agency. “I wanted to be an entrepreneur; in no way did i think I would become a therapist.” I fell into entrepreneurship.” Many successful entrepreneurs are like me.
The obsessive entrepreneur
Obsession is one of the more common traits I see among entrepreneurs. Many people live, breathe and eat their business. These people are insane to those who don’t have the entrepreneurial bug.
But, their obsession is what propels the business forward. Business is competitive, just like sports. Your ability to outperform your competition is enhanced the more reps you do. While others are sleeping, partying or resting, the obsessive entrepreneur is focused on bringing their vision to life and is willing to sacrifice a “normal” life for something they believe in.
Certain skills are so powerful, they can be the sole engine of a business. A friend of mine runs a media company. Their superpower is not the only thing they use every day. The rest of their time is spent on outsourcing or hiring menial tasks that slow them down or take away from the one thing that drives the business.
Generalists prefer the world of entrepreneurship. They are able to work in multiple areas with smaller and more flexible teams. They see business as an orchestra with each note and instrument affecting the whole.
In some circles, being called a generalist is not always a compliment. “I always wince when people ask me if my generalist status is true, as it has been defined to mean “someone who knows a little bit of everything.” Neil Deramchi, entrepreneur, says that it actually means “someone who knows a lot and can execute on that knowledge in a way that rivals that of a specialist.” Generalists know enough to be dangerous in many areas that help grow a business.
The allure to be a Jobs-ian entrepreneur is prevalent in tech circles, but few truly possess the ability to see and even shape the future.
While it’s a lofty label to put on anyone, I find that my friend Maddy Sukoru has the traits of a visionary. I asked him how he views his gift. He said that visionary is just an artist. It comes from a place where you are constantly questioning why things are done the way they are,” Sukoru, founder of the social commerce platform Groupshop, says.
Visionaries who are successful do more than rely on big ideas. They use a pragmatic approach to bring about their goals.
After about 10 years of starting businesses, I’ve realized I may be more suited to support a great founder or be an operator. Most successful entrepreneurs have people who help them bring their vision to life. It’s okay to not want to be entrepreneurs, or to burn out. You don’t have to be the face or the CEO of the company. However, you can still build from scratch.
You may identify more with one type than another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have traits from any other. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy. And while the media tends to portray entrepreneurs in a single way, know that the street vendor selling tacos is no less an entrepreneur than the startup CEO.
Related: The 5 Types of Entrepreneurs
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.