Five Distinct Entrepreneur Personality Types and How They Each Run Their Startups

Posted by Warren Bergen

True entrepreneurs wrestle the future and bring it to us as they are the commercialization propellant of innovation.

Entrepreneurs create efficiencies, make things easier/better and sometimes even save lives. They also bring us entertainment, fun, fashion and better pie. These are an amazing people to know because they are generally glass half-full, forward-thinking builders who want to make a positive change in the world.

As we previously had a bit of fun with venture capitalist personality profiles, in no particular order here are the top five personality profiles of entrepreneurs.


THE KING ALMIGHTY

Entirely infected by founderitis but completely unaware is the enthroned King Almighty. All hail. If you don’t recognize the genius, well you’re just too stupid to get it.

The King will generally hire backside smoochers and layers of palm branches while the actual talent scours their network for a way out. These Kings believe that they are better than their team at every discipline and would do it all themselves if only they could self-replicate. The King will repeatedly introduce a new team member as a most brilliant score, but is heard referring to the same individual as an idiot within six months.

While tirelessly boastful and seeking of the spotlight, there is intense insecurity which drives all behavior. The King works hard and often presents the world’s most incredible and groundbreaking advancements. Credible team members that do stay on, do so as they have bought the vision despite the prophet. However, when the wildly improbable success of the King does occur, it’s monumental. Here’s a snippet of an actual conversation with a King:

Me: Your name occupies 90% of all the leadership team boxes on the organizational chart.

KA: Yes. I am quite capable to get more done in less time than a team of other people.

Me: So, does the vice president of sakes ever meet with the VP of R&D?

KA: Yes. I have cross-discipline meetings all the time. I can have those conversations with myself and be quite effective.

Me: Does the CEO provide performance evaluations of all the VPs?

KA: Yes.

Me: How are they doing?

KA: When I find suitable replacements I’ll make those changes, but right now it’s a world class team.

Upside: The overblown sense of ability allows the King to conjure massive ideas and opportunities.

Downside: This scratch-and-win lottery ticket will almost never happen.

How to Spot: Screams at and berates the idiot marketing team for choosing the Aqua Sky Pantone 14-4811 when clearly Cerulean 15-4020 exudes the product promise so much more vividly. Losers.

 

THE ROCK

Near the pinnacle of the personality type hierarchy sits the Rock. What initially makes these entrepreneurs so particularly interesting is the degree of self-awareness they possess of their own strengths and weaknesses.

The Rock understands their strengths but is emotionally secure enough to recognize a weakness of financial skills, marketing, or channel management or any other of the multitude of skills required to build a company. To compensate, they study, target and recruit the very best talent they can find and give them sufficient latitude to do the job.

The Rock has removed the crushing element of ego from the project and continually seeks guidance from customers, board members, advisors, mentors and experts. Options have been provided to critical team members to lock them down through the build cycle. Company valuation has been established in a reasonable form so that the financing round can actually get done and the Rock understands that the investor is a customer buying an investment opportunity and that he/she isn’t giving something away.

In opposite fashion to the “big picture guy,” the Rock understands the forward-looking cash flow statement in intimate detail and has built contingency plans for when it doesn’t go according to plan. The Rock will generally tend toward organic growth over doing another capital raise for acceleration.

Upside: The logical plan of the Rock is welcome relief in a sea of hockey stick pitches and nosebleed valuations.

Downside: The 1987 Cadillac DeVille ride to success wafts lazily over bumps that shatter most other ventures and drifts quietly around the banked curve where others may have slipped over the edge in a fiery blaze.  It will take longer for the Rock to reach the checkered flag and many spectators will have long gone home. 

How to Spot: Wears water wings in the pool

 

 

THE SUN GOD

The first time you speak to a Sun God, you may not know it but you will be briefly interested because everything is just so completely awesome. The opportunity is endless because the product is perfect and all weaknesses and threats have been mitigated. The only thing that is missing is more capital.

There is always a monster deal in play and traffic almost took down the website three times since the product launch. Six months later, the monster deal has evaporated which is great because a much more monster deal is for sure absolutely imminent. Apparently the biggest name VCs have been begging to invest capital but the Sun God would rather take your money because you and the Sun God have that... connection (you know?).

“No, the development team isn’t behind schedule. They simply found a much more advantageous way to architect the system. It’ll payoff big time," the Sun God will say. "Hey, it’s too bad you weren’t here yesterday because the Wall Street Journal dropped in to profile our company. We gave them a tour but told them we’d rather have that publicity in the spring. It was cool though."

Upside: Even though the Sun God is speaking with Elon Musk, your call will be taken immediately.

Downside: Downside? What downside?

How to Spot: A spray of near-news press releases, a stream of company parties and 24/7 fist bumping

 

THE PINBALL

If you see the world through the lens of the Pinball, it is a fantastic and magical wonderland. Sure, the Pinball started the company with a great idea, but one of the awesome team members had this other mind-blowing idea that made us rethink everything. They were almost gaining a few customers with that and then, just last month in the shower it came to the Pinball like a lightning bolt. They realized that the market in China was so ripe right now, they just couldn’t afford to not go after it.

So we met with a few companies doing business over there and found out that if we license another company’s patent and integrate our code with theirs, we could satisfy the needs of a reseller who seemed really interested.

Actual conversation with the Pinball:

Me: We won’t be pursuing your deal.

Pinball: Well I’m kinda over that one anyway. I’ve got a whole binder of ideas at home. I can be back here tomorrow and we can go through all of them. I’m sure you’ll love something in there.

Upside: The Pinball is hyper aware of the most cutting-edge of everything. Use the Pinball to stay on top of the tiniest of trend shifts.

Downside: This is awesome, but if you don’t like it the next thing is even awesomer.

How to Spot: “When we were working on our Google Glass app for pet owners, we got this amazing idea. Instead of watching cat videos people will come to our site to watch videos made by my cat. It’s gonna be huge.”

 

THE HUSTLER

Sleeping under the desk is only uncomfortable if you let it bother you. The main advantage of this of course is that you can get so much more work done if you don’t have to commute from home and get in a couple hours work before the team starts to trickle in at 7am. This way, the Hustler can have the proposal crafted and waiting in the prospective customer’s inbox even though they had only said their goodbye’s after the last beer at 11pm. Gotta meet the team at 7:55am for a hallway quick hit and make it to the customer’s site by 8:20am. Remember to interview that potential hire en route by phone. 

The Hustler is a beautiful specimen. These rarified gems care deeply about the customers, company, team and investors. Their success rate exceeds that of their peers, but even when they fail they don’t blame others. Success is sought, not fame. Credit is deflected to the team. Empowerment is distributed. Behavior is consistent and the temper is usually quite even. The Hustler works harder than anyone else but will expect the same of the team regardless. The Hustler understands that the rewards will follow if he/she has first helped others. 

Upside: The Hustler makes sure that a lot of people benefit when the success does occur.

Downside: The board will need to reign in the sprinting Hustler to save them for the marathon. If they don’t, the Hustler will burnout and do the same to the team. If you see yourself here, please remember to get your rest, eat right and get enough exercise. A burnout is of little value to anyone.

How to Spot: The long-suffering spouse (if one still exists or ever existed) discreetly pulls you aside and asks if you like Thai food. The Hustler will text you at 1am, then be confused at why there’s no immediate response.

We do love you, dear entrepreneur, and wish you every success. While we all hope that the deal you’re in right now works out, make sure you take away and remember the lessons if it does not.

Learn, grow, and try again. The world needs you.

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Warren Bergen

Warren Bergen

Warren Bergen is the Vice President for Corporate Development with Alberta-based AVAC Ltd. and author of Swagger & Sweat, A Start-up Capital Boot Camp. more



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