Finding The Right Business

What's Your Entrepreneurial Personality Type?


5. If You're an Authority: You are the backbone of our society. Authorities are the loyal workers who make our world function--you make our products, service our systems, and always do it right. As an Authority, you may not always be the best founder of an entrepreneurial enterprise, but you can be an excellent distributor, franchisee or owner of an existing business--you can do well when you purchase an ongoing operation.

You're detail- and tactic-oriented and are motivated by doing things one way-the right way. You are very conscientious and cooperative, following rules, procedures and policies carefully. Very thorough with details, you're cautious, deliberate, logical and analytical. You're also relaxed, patient and accomodating by nature, and are a great team player who tends to avoid confrontation. Examples of businesses that fit this personality type would be dry cleaning stores and liquor or convenience stores, where the need for the product or service is strong. You grow your customer base, embracing them with loyalty--you see your customers as an extension of your family.

The Authority's Business Strengths: Authorities often refer to themselves as "accidental" entrepreneurs, because they may end up running a business that was never part of their original plan. Consequently, you're best served by going into a business that embraces your level of expertise or allows you to develop a new level of expertise. Because you are accommodating, you may dislike prospecting, so you may need to be in a business where customers or clients are driven to you. Most authorities need a partner with a stronger natural ability to prospect or network. You can be very successful buying a franchise or business opportunity, as long as the organization is well-supported with advertising and marketing.

6. If You're a Collaborator: The primary difference between you and Authorities is that you have a personality gift called sociability. It's this characteristic that allows you to use your influence to get what you want. It's all about people--you relish the people side of business.

You typically benefit from having a partner who is more aggressive about developing new business. Collaborators usually aren't comfortable with cold calling or pitching new ideas; you like to follow prescribed rules and guidelines.

The Collaborator's Business Strengths: You're good at running customer service-oriented or retail businesses, or any business where being convincing is an important aspect of getting the job done, and done right. From an entrepreneurial perspective, Collaborators do well within structured environments where people are an element of success.

Collaborators can be great salespeople in a warm selling market because they use their sociability to sell their expertise. Warm selling means you bring the prospect to you, often through a letter or advertisment enticing the prospect to contact you for more information about your product or service. Once prospects do get in touch, your expertise takes over, and you sell your heart out. On the other hand, cold selling, which Generalist personalities typically do well, involves picking up the phone and dialing for dollars, or hitting the streets looking for prospects door to door.

7. If You're a Diplomat: You are restless and enjoy working under a certain amount of pressure. You get things done quickly and work well with deadlines. You adjust easily to change and deal well with new situations. You have a high sense of urgency and like variety, and because of your compliance and your need to do things right, you work at your full capacity. You multitask and keep a variety of jobs going at once. Active and energetic, you vigorously attack the parts of your business that you enjoy. You can experience difficulty in delegating details, but do a great job when you can do the work yourself.

Diplomats are considered by many to be the best of the Specialist entrepreneurs, as they have both sociability and drive in their personalities. These are two important elements to success. Like most Specialists, you are not the greatest rainmaker, but once you have a client or prospect, you do a great job of keeping them.

The Diplomat's Business Strengths: You excel in retail or other people-oriented environments. Both outgoing and empathetic, you tend to be well-liked, but you sometimes have a hard time asserting yourself and holding others accountable. Therefore, to successfully lead a company, you typically need to hire stronger, more results-oriented personalities to be sure deadlines are met, commitments are kept and staff members follow through on duties.

Putting It All Together
Of the entrepreneurs we studied, more than 80 percent have very similar personality traits.

There's a great deal of truth to the notion that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Although our upbringings, belief systems, education, training and development affect our ultimate behaviors, our core personalities remain relatively constant throughout our lives.

The most important factors that distinguish entrepreneurs who barely make it from those who make millions are personality and--sometimes more important--the ability to harness personality, use it and learn from it. The most successful entrepreneurs know that the greatest knowledge is self-knowledge. They understand how to make the best of their talents and manage or compensate for their weaknesses or potential limitations.

Each of the seven entrepreneurial personalities is more compatible with some types of businesses than others. It's best to choose a business that is well-suited to your natural personality and behavioral style. Rather than swim upstream with the currents going against your success, why not go with the flow and focus on the types of businesses in which you can thrive?

By understanding your own personality, you can leverage your strengths, work to improve your weaknesses and limitations, and discover the type of business that will work best for you. Then you can either choose a business that fits your personality or know that you will need to surround yourself with people who excel in the areas where you're lacking.

Who Are You?
To find out what your personality type is, go to and complete an Entrepreneur Assessment. This will help you understand how your personality affects your business success. You'll also find other useful tests, excerpts from The Entrepreneur Next Door and more.

Bill Wagner is CEO and co-founder of Accord Management Systems, a behavioral consultancy specializing in helping fast-growth companies and entrepreneurs get the people side of their businesses right. His book The Entrepreneur Next Door (Entrepreneur Press) will be published in June.
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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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