May 312012

What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You?

What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You?

I think there are two kinds of entrepreneurs, and sometimes, you can be both.  There is the kind that starts businesses, and there is the kind that builds businesses.

The kind of entrepreneur who starts businesses but usually doesn’t like running or building them are typically serial entrepreneurs.  How can you spot one?  They:

  • Have an idea a minute and a bit of ADD – they are attracted to bright shiny objects – they can’t focus
    • Would rather generate 1 good and idea and 19 bad ones than just 1 good one
    • Are always thinking about the next thing, only excited by the possibility of what could be, not by what is
    • Are more philosophical and theoretical than practical
    • Probably shouldn’t run businesses for more than a few months
    • Are likely to frustrate everyone around them and get bored themselves
    • Are really fun at cocktail parties
    • Say things like “I thought of auctions online way before eBay!”

The second kind of entrepreneur is the kind of person who can run businesses but may or may not come up with the idea.  Typically, these people:

  • Care about success, not about having the idea
  • Love to make things work
  • Would rather generate 1 idea and execute it well than 2 ideas
  • Are problem solvers
  • Are great with people
  • May be less fun at cocktail parties, but you’d want them on your team in a game of paintball or laser tag

It’s the rare one who can do both of these things well.  But you know them when you see them.  Think Dell or Microsoft…or even Apple in a roundabout way if you consider the fact that Jobs hired Cook (and others) to partner with them to run the business.

Filed under: Entrepreneurship

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  • Daniel Clough

    I'm without doubt the second one. I care much more about the end product, building great teams and achieving success. I care that people feel they are doing great work, are part of something special and love coming to work.

    I love it when I see the first kind recognise they are the first kind and put strong people round them. It can be tough when you see a company being run by the first kind – focus is almost always dilluted, a killer for any business.

    • Matt Blumberg

      As usual, I am with you 100% on both parts of your comments!Matt

  • Adam Menges

    Like both of you, I lean mostly towards the second option. I also believe the second type is by far a better one. Ideas are easy to come by, but great execution is not. An entrepreneur could set out with a good idea, but poor execution, and fail. However, an entrepreneur who focuses on success and execution, even with a bad idea, has a much better chance of making it. Also, for what it’s worth, if a entrepreneur focuses on success, it’s fair to say they’re not going to run with a bad idea.

    • Matt Blumberg

      Except for the occasionally *brilliant* idea — spot on.Matt

  • Wayne E. Pollard

    I am DEFINITELY the first one! For one business, a dotcom I started in 1998, I partnered with a buddy from college who has an MBA from Columbia. He and another partner actually ran the business while I handled the PR and was the "face" of the company. After our acquisition talks stopped when the dotcom market crashed, I sold my equity to my partners because I was in it for the exit; I had no interest in running a company.

    I'm now on my third business. Or is it my fourth?..

    Great post!

    • Matt Blumberg

      The world needs both kinds, clearly!Matt

  • Stu McLaren

    As soon as I read this I could definitely see myself initially as a starter.

    But, I've noticed that over the last few years I'm evolving more into a "builder". I think this is because I was getting burnt out of jumping from one idea to the next.

    One of the things that I've learned to do is channel my creative energy into making one idea 10X better. It's helped in the evolution.

    I still have a ways to go but I'm getting there :)

    • Matt Blumberg

      You can definitely transition from one to the other!