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These 4 Personalities Make Up Your Startup 'Dream Team' Learning the psychology of your hires can help you place them in their ideal roles.

By Don Fornes Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When you're building a startup, smart hiring is essential. You need to find the right people and place them in the right roles to create a quality product, build a strong brand and reach the right customers. In other words, you need to create a corporate "dream team."

I learned this firsthand when starting Software Advice. Hiring was a challenge early on, but since then, we've grown our staff to over 100 people -- and for the top performers, we've gradually developed specialized roles that take advantage of their unique strengths.

In an effort to better understand some of these elite employees, I recruited a business psychologist, Dr. James Maynard. With the research help of Managing Editor Holly Regan, we identified four distinct personality types that are indispensable for turning your startup into a profitable business.

The matrix thinker: When you're first starting a company, you need people with big ideas. Matrix thinkers are creative problem solvers who are constantly scanning their environment for information. They are artistically expressive and "think outside the box." They often connect seemingly-unrelated concepts to deliver clever, revolutionary new ideas, products and processes. However, sometimes this quick thinking results in confusion, and immature Matrix Thinkers are prone to distraction, impulsiveness and chaos.

Related: Richard Branson on Finding Talented People Who Can Grow Your Business

Mature matrix thinkers, on the other hand, can synthesize the information they're taking in and communicate effectively with others. They make brilliant marketing strategists, web developers, creative directors or executive-level leaders. Of course, if you founded your company, you're the original innovator -- even if you don't identify as a matrix thinker, you probably share some of the same qualities.

The savant: Once you've got your big-picture strategies and campaigns worked out, you need people who can execute them. Savants are intelligent, hardworking individuals who are exceedingly talented in a single field. When free to follow their specific working routine, they can focus on projects intensely. Savants are often skilled writers, artists and engineers, and their prolific nature can make them your company's top producers. Their innate perfectionism, however, can be a double-edged sword, and immature savants tend towards social anxiety, communication problems and depression.

Mature savants, however, have realized their natural talent and are driven to succeed. They can become your best content creators, designers, graphic artists or editorial directors.

Related: Want to Work at a Startup? Here Is How.

The champ (and their chip): Now that you have a product to sell, you need someone who can effectively move it. The champ is your quintessential salesperson: zealous, dynamic and driven to be the best. Champs are confident in their ability to succeed, and they often do. They are great communicators who read people well and don't discourage easily. However, champs also tend to wear a chip on their shoulder. Often, this chip motivates them to keep selling, even in the face of hardship. But in immature champs, the chip can manifest itself through arrogance, resentment and clashes with authority.

Mature champs have learned to temper their ego, and can become high performing, charismatic leaders. In addition to sales, they flourish in management and executive-level positions.

The giver: After your champs have locked in customers for your company, you'll need someone who can assist them with their requests and problems. The giver is your ideal customer service agent, always putting the needs of the customer, the company and their co-workers ahead of their own. They are team players who always follow the rules, and they are the type of people you'll find coming in early and staying late. However, this mentality can result in them giving so much that they burn out. Immature givers may have unrealistically high expectations of their team members, and their tendency to avoid confrontation can result in passive-aggressive behavior.

Mature givers, on the other hand, know to speak up when there's a problem, and go above and beyond in service of the company. Besides their penchant for customer support, givers shine in executive assistance, marketing support and strategy and mid-level management.

If you're a startup owner, consider hiring a workforce psychologist of your own to help you analyze your staff and identify what makes someone a top performer. When you've got a team of high achievers placed in their ideal roles, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Related: How to Make Your First Hire Less Terrifying

Don Fornes

Chief executive at Software Advice

Don Fornes is chief executive at Software Advice, an online resource for software buyers based in Austin, Texas. He blogs at A Million Little Wins.

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