There are four types of entrepreneurs; and, if you intend to start your own business, it’s important to distinguish which type you are as it can help determine your strengths, ideal industry to enter, and where you may need a wingman.
The term ‘entrepreneur’ is too vague in today’s society. Seems everyone wants to be one, but few recognize that there are different types. From my experience having worked with dozens of successful entrepreneurs over the last decade, I can tell you definitively that there are four specific types, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
So let’s determine which type of entrepreneur you are. From there, it may provide clarity on the ideal venture to get involved in based on your entrepreneurial DNA…
The Four Types of Entrepreneurs
The Scrambler: ‘Scramblers’ are entrepreneurs who work well in uncertain times, are unconventional thinkers, and thrive in innovative environments. I like to think these were the individuals who sparked the term ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ Scramblers work incredibly well on startup tech companies and engineering projects. They bring a creative mind to the ‘concept-to-prototype’ process often required when PhDs and engineers are hard at work. They bring a business case mindset to highly complex innovation, which is vital when building a disruptive technology; and they also perform incredibly well when things don’t go according to plan.
Scramblers are hard to rattle, which is a virtue of entrepreneurship, and they are extremely passionate about what they do. Scramblers are powerful presenters who love public speaking and perform very well in a boardroom or lab. They’re entrepreneurial chameleons in that sense: highly technical but charismatic.
The downside to Scramblers, however, is that they are terrible at organization. They’re so focused on solving complex problems and shooting for the stars that they often drop the ball on the organizational components of a business. Never to be left alone to handle finances or regulatory issues, Scramblers need a good accountant and manager to take care of the remedial tasks. Things like payroll, filling out forms and taxes annoy Scramblers to no end.
The Gunslinger: ‘Gunslingers’ are the entrepreneurs whose biographies often become best sellers because their rise to the top is full of drama and excitement. These are the greatest risk takers among entrepreneurs and have a unique ability to be completely comfortable throwing their life savings into a new venture. They are the Babe Ruths of entrepreneurship, often creating massively successful companies that change the way we live… or they strike out and go down in a blaze of glory.
Gunslingers only succeed when they have major skin in the game. If there is no personal risk involved in a venture for them, they’ll fizzle out from boredom. So investing heavily in their startup with their personal wealth is paramount to success.
Oftentimes Gunslingers start businesses that take on established corporations. They are the hardcore disrupters and unless there is some personal benefit (recognition, often from the masses), it’s just not a big enough venture for them to be satisfied. Driven more by accomplishment and recognition than money, Gunslingers often end up getting both from their business.
The downside is that Gunslingers usually take on so much risk early on in a venture that they unnecessarily put their companies in Jeopardy early. Fail quickly, so to speak, which is why they need a partner who puts up some resistance to their often expensive ideas early on.
A major positive to Gunslingers is that they never stop taking risks, even once they have made it. They never rest on their laurels and aren’t easily deterred.
The General: ‘Generals’, as you may assume, are incredibly organized and almost obsessive about the overall efficiency of the business. They thrive running large companies, but often find themselves stressed in times of uncertainty. They butt heads with Scramblers, but provide a very complimentary ying to that yang.
Weak at dealing with uncertainty, a General is not well-suited to run a tech startup, but ideal to manage money, people and procedural-intense companies.
Although stern, Generals are generous entrepreneurs with intense loyalty to their mission and supporters. As a result, companies they run typically have a very positive work culture, breeding ‘corporate patriots’. They are typically very strong at fundraising because they are always prepared and are great pitchmen given their attention to detail and strong ability to read people quickly.
The Mechanic: These types of entrepreneurs are extremely disciplined and have a system in place that they don’t deviate from. Mechanics make great venture capitalists as they understand which pieces are needed to make the operation run efficiently. They believe that any weak link can bring the entire ship down and therefor focus intensely on putting the right people in every role. From the secretary to the Chairman of the Board, Mechanics are meticulous in who they choose to bring on their team.
Mechanics rarely, if ever, go outside the box on their strategy. They’ve followed a formula to get to where they are and believe it’s gospel. Extremely opinionated, but practical in thinking, defines a Mechanic. Mechanics typically have impressive rolodexes and they correctly put a heavy emphasis on building relationships.
A Mechanics main goal in starting a business is mitigating risk as much as humanly possible. This makes them very shrewd dealmakers. Their primary focus is the bottom line.
CEO of a startup tech company is not an ideal fit for a Mechanic. There is too much uncertainty at that stage. They thrive in taking over at the commercialization phase when an efficient system is needed to increase revenue rapidly.
There you have it. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, understanding what type of entrepreneur you are will certainly help define the ideal venture for you. Furthermore, knowing what type of entrepreneur you are will highlight what type of business partner you will need.
So, what type of entrepreneur are you?