Finding The Right Business

What's Your Entrepreneurial Personality Type?

Personality Counts

With these factors in mind, we identified seven broad personality types. Four are Generalists--more strategic or leadership-oriented. They are the Trailblazer, the Go-Getter, the Manager and the Motivator. There are also three Specialist personality types. These are more tactical in their behavior-the true experts who enjoy the details and are typically very good at them. These three types are the Authority, the Collaborator and the Diplomat.

The four Generalist entrepreneurial personality types start, own and run the majority of successful businesses. A smaller but impressive number of businesses are run by people who possess one of the three Specialist personality types. Here's a closer look at the seven personality types our research has identified:

1. If You're a Trailblazer: You are very competitive, ambitious and goal- oriented--so much so that you tend to be aggressive and sometimes take a steamroller approach. You're restless and energetic, with a strong drive and a sense of urgency, regardless of the task at hand. You tend to have two speeds: fast and faster. Independent, persistent and decisive, you aren't happy unless you're in charge. Trailblazers are logical, analytical, practical and realistic--you tend to base decisions on facts rather than feelings. You are a calculated risk taker.

The Trailblazer's Business Strengths: Good industries for you could include the medical, technology, finance, legal and consulting fields. Being a strong strategic thinker, you focus easily on marketing and operations. Your challenge is likely to be working with people--you are usually a better leader than manager and need to surround yourself with others who can manage the people side of the business.

Trailblazers prefer being the driving force of a business. You typically wouldn't buy a franchise or distributorship, but you would start a company that competes with a franchise. You're highly innovative, especially when it comes to taking an idea to the next level.

2. If You're a Go-Getter: You have a higher-than-average level of both dominance and sociability and are very driven and independent. You are competitive, but your drive to succeed is sometimes tempered by your interest in and concern for others. In our research, Go-Getters represent the largest percentage of the founders. Your natural style lends itself to managing and leading both processes and people.

You show a great deal of initiative, coupled with a compelling sense of urgency to get things done. Go-Getters are typically good leaders and good managers, excelling at motivating themselves and those around them.

The Go-Getter's Business Strengths: You can do well in retail, but may prefer being the outside rainmaker. You work well in ambitious and unfamiliar environments. This means you can invest in, buy or start a business that's totally new to you and still make a success of it. You don't need to be an expert in the field to start the business--you are a good collaborator and can learn as you go.

3. If You're a Manager: You are dominant and independent. In your case, these two characteristics feed each other, so you can appear to be even more dominant or independent than you actually are. You are also very goal-oriented and can be quite analytical, focusing more on processes and outcomes than on people. You have a tendency to look at people as vehicles for helping you accomplish your goals. Consequently, you sometimes disregard or overlook the people part of the equation or unwittingly offend people with your straightforward style of communication.

Unlike the two previous entrepreneurial types, Managers have a higher-than-average level of relaxation and know that some projects simply take more time to complete and some goals take longer to achieve than others. You're loyal, sometimes to a fault, as you consider your employees to be an extension of your family. You can deal well with customers, especially repeat customers, so you'll probably be great at growing a business.

The Manager's Business Strengths: You like doing things on your own, are a great behind-the-scenes leader and love working with systems, concepts, ideas and technologies. You excel at competitive selling because you enjoy overcoming rejection and achieving goals despite obstacles. Managers enjoy working by themselves, and managing others can be a challenge, so you need to hire employees who are better than you at listening and working well with others.

4. If You're a Motivator: You have a high level of sociability, an above-average level of dominance, and are both driven and independent. This gives you the ability to work well under pressure and in autonomous situations. It also means that you will be a great consensus builder, a good collaborator and a driver of change. Just like the name suggests, you are the consummate motivator who does well working by, with and through others.

The Motivator's Business Strengths: Retail can be your game--or any environment where people are a large part of the equation. You do well in almost any business that involves people, as long as it's a somewhat non-confrontational environment. You can be convincing and avoid most confrontation by creating a strong emotional argument. Motivators do well in the toughest of customer service roles, as you are able to see both sides of the argument. You tend to deal with even the most negative arguments by using the three F's--feel, felt and found--saying, "I understand how you are feeling. In fact, I have felt the same way, but when I learned (insert your point), what I found was (again, insert your point)."

Motivators excel at leadership or sales. You do well in business with partners, or in a business that involves others. Motivators are good at nurturing relationships and often do best in a business that involves keeping clients for the long term. You thrive in a team environment.

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This article was originally published in the April 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: What's Your Type?.

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