Entrepreneur personality types

There’s quite a bit about entrepreneurs as mavericks – in the world of finding the Next Big Thing, as well as running and leading businesses into the Next Big Crunch.

Stefan Stern, FT columnist, on maverick entrepreneurs even quoted folk in a Kingston Uni research piece saying things like:

“You can easily confuse a bullshitter with an entrepreneur.” 

 “They get angry and upset, so they go and step over the mark . . . life is actually easier if you get rid of them.”

Rubbish. The world would be a cruel, backward place without entrepreneurs! And, it’s not just a one dimensional set. There are a whole range of types… :

1. Gambling addicts – The guy who is convinced that the next big break is around the corner, hanging on the next deal, only a matter of time. Issue: If you do the same things, you get the same result… only if you change and modify your pitch or model can you really see things stop lurching from one ‘almost’ or ‘if only’ and turn the business into a properly funded enterprise with breathing space for the team to relax into it.

2. Denial – The founder who doesn’t acknowledge input from wise outsiders, always toughing out the questions with a rebuff that ‘we’re onto that’ or ‘we’ve been there already’… when you just know they haven’t necessarily considered it and that your idea is a suggestion for debate and brainstorming rather than a put-down challenge for them to come back on. Issue: entrepreneurs need to realise that people are mostly there offering a well meaning (if sometimes wide of the mark) helping hand. Listen and ponder, but don’t bit back as it looks defensive when you’re trying to look in control.

3. Butterfly – So many folk think that a business needs to have a host of clever bells and whistles, or break into a new market in a new way. Wrong. It’s all about how well you do it. I’d love, for instance, to start a fruit and veg stall or a greasy caff. Everyone needs food and will repeat purchase from good value places offering hearty or healthy sustenance. Issue: don’t try to be too clever until you’ve worked out how the ‘seemingly basic’ guys operate.

4. Tech head – Blimey, so many people want to give me demos of their clever kit. They get lost in a load of techno babble, when I’m just trying to work out if they’ve got the drive to battle through the miserable times (or have the dynamics of a solid partnership with their fellow entrepreneurs who sometimes seem ill-suited to each other, let alone the life of entrepreneur risk). Issue: it’s not about the product, it’s about how persuasive the whole team and story is).

5. Done the research – The guys with the polished pitch really shine out. What was it Mark Twain wrote: ‘I’m sorry I wrote you a long letter, I didn’t have time for a short one.’ Same is true of pitches and presentations. If you’ve not had time to rehearse – or you give away all sorts of autobiographical stuff which sets you in a bad light… then you haven’t pitched your idea to your mum, wife or closest non-business pals. Your own blushes will polish the pitch because you’ll know what you can’t explain to them without their quizzical look or embarrassed titter. Issue: Rehearsing shines thru.

6. Charisma clicking – I know in my gut when I can work with people. Sure, you can be fooled. And, the essential thing is to bring back your cynical guard. But, if the chemistry is there… if they appreciate where you are coming from and make allowances… you can start in no better place for the long journey to growth.

I’m sure there are more types to add in. Give me your thoughts…

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2 Responses to “Entrepreneur personality types”


  1. 1 John Whittington July 22, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Charlie

    Interesting post on Entrepreneur personality types. As someone who spends all my time coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs I’d be interested to know where on the Kingston Uni spectrum you feel you sit?

    And what you feel you’ve learnt about the role of personality type in leadership in this wonderful industry…..

    All the best, John

  2. 2 circus (alec/folarin) July 17, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    You may be subliminally showing your 70s cultural imprinting….

    Gambling addicts – Gambler – Kenny Rogers

    Denial- He’s Misstra Know it All – Stevie Wonder

    Butterfly – Take it easy – Jackson Browne

    Tech-head – Electric Dreams – Giorgio Moroder & Phil Oakley

    Done the research – A little less conversation – Elvis

    Charisma clicking – Charisma – Kiss


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