Have you ever thought about what kind of entrepreneur you are?
Starting a business is either a daunting project or a whirlwind of excitement. It depends on your personality and what you perceive are your natural instincts and strengths. While there are some qualities which naturally point to an entrepreneurial bent in an individual, the truth is that entrepreneurs are all unique.
When you envision an entrepreneur, you might think of a driven, smart, scattered and self-conscious flurry of big ideas walking around in a hoodie. Mark Zuckerberg personified this iconic representation. But you might also think of Barbara Corcoran, Elon Musk, or Martha Stewart.
People who start businesses possess many different strengths and weaknesses.
You can't put entrepreneurs in a tidy box.
Having worked with plenty of lesser-known entrepreneurs and self-made business people, I know firsthand that entrepreneurs come in all sorts of wrappers. They do share some innate common characteristics, like a tolerance for risk and an outlook that skews toward hope, but those qualities can be hidden underneath so many different countenances.
Since everyone operates from a source of power different from everyone else, I'm always wondering, "What is this person's superpower?" How will this pattern of decisions create an outcome different from another sequence of decisions? Why does one person focus on a certain aspect of business while another equally successful businesswoman couldn't care less?
Business scholars, researchers, and thought tanks are always coming up with reasons why companies thrive or fail. Books like Good to Great by Jim Collins (based on data compiled from dozens of companies) and The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries (a study of innovation); explore culture and ideas, while barely touching on the personality traits of the organization's founders.
You can study any industry leader and get their take on why they zigged when the rest of the world zagged; the backstory that compelled her to change career directions; or even how she picked herself up after failing the first 20 years of her money-making schemes. In fact, business biographies and leadership books are the most interesting reading you can do as an entrepreneur.
Before you explore why famous entrepreneurs do what they do, why not discover more about YOU?
You're the most interesting person in the room right now, just look around.
Do you understand why? Can you name what it is that others see when they observe you? And why do certain people resonate with you while others tick you off?
Knowing yourself takes a lot more than just taking a few tests, of course! But you'll learn a lot if you open up your mind and do the following.
As you start your business, or if you've never done it before, I recommend picking up a few of these tests in order to get a handle on your innate work style, your outward strengths and your inner gifts. These tests were created
If you're hesitant about doing this exercise, don't worry too much about it. Your beliefs about which "type of person you are" are always going to shimmy around a bit as you go through life. You are a human being and that means C-H-A-N-G-E. Always and forever. Don't set yourself up inside a pigeonhole for all time. Just get a snapshot of your preferences and behaviors, how you come off to others, and you'll have an excellent edge over the next gal whois trying to build a "BossGirl" business like everyone else.
The tests you must take as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey are:
Kolbe Indexes are fun and easy to complete online in less than 20 minutes. They are different from other self assessments because they don't measure how smart you are (thinking) or what your personality is like (feeling). Rather, Kolbe Indexes measure how you naturally DO things.
Strengths Finder 2.0 is a strengths and productivity assessment which predicts your top two strengths as a manger and gives you concrete ways for turning those strengths into high performance. It focuses on helping your bring out the strengths in others on your team.
The Fascination Personality Test® doesn’t measure how you see the world…it measures how the world sees you. Built on branding rather than psychology, it identifies your primary Advantage, and reveals your personality Archetype.
Now, smash the results.
The trouble with personality tests is that you may disagree with the results, or you may identify too much with them. Once you see where your strength and charisma lie, don't let yourself rest on those skills without attempting to progress in other areas. You can pursue excellence in time management, for example, even if you see yourself (or the test shows you) as a creative hot mess. There's always hope for change and improvement.
No pigeonholes! The innate qualities you possess are your easy-access gifts. These are the areas where you don't even have to try to excel, but they are not meant to be holding cells for your best lights.
It takes discipline to sharpen your strengths to serve others and your organization. Using that same discipline and judgement, you'll learn this crucial truth about people in business: Others may be completely different from you, but they are equal in their innate powers. While it's tempting to sit back and rationalize that "it's just the way I am," a wise and good leader allows for growth and recognition that all things change and improve with time and will. She'll also figure out the best way to maximize the natural abilities of others.
Start where you are, with who you are... then build from there.