Figuring out what kind of business to launch is hardly a science, but it should be considered logically.
Think about the basic entrepreneur make up. While naturally all entrepreneurs are unique under the sun, they do tend to conform with certain archetypes. Some entrepreneurs are really inventors, who view the challenges of building a business as a necessary evil. Others are really marketers who believe that they can entice customers to any offering. Some just want to change the world and make it a better place.
But why does this matter? It’s my view that if you know what your strengths are early, you’ll be better equipped to launch businesses that are more likely to survive and even thrive.
I’ve always wondered if there was some way that I could quickly deduce a new entrepreneur’s “sweet spot,” and optimize my mentoring to those strengths and weaknesses, maybe similar to the Myers-Briggs type indicator for business professionals. I just saw an interesting step in that direction via a new book “Entrepreneurial DNA,” by Joe Abraham.
His framework seems to be picking up some traction, and is already in use informally by several entrepreneurship platforms, including StartupAmerica, and CoFoundersLab. His methodology measures an entrepreneur’s fit or DNA in each of four quadrants — Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, and Innovator (BOSI), defined at a high level as follows:
1. Builder. These entrepreneurs are the ultimate chess players in the game of business, always looking to be two or three moves ahead of the competition. They are often described as driven, focused, cold, ruthless, and calculating. Many might say Donald Trump epitomizes this category.
2. Opportunist. The Opportunist is the speculative part of the entrepreneur in all of us. It’s that part of our being that wants to be in the right place at the right time, leveraging timing to make as much money as possible. If you ever felt enticed to jump into a quick money deal, like a real-estate quick-flip, or an IPO, that was your ‘opportunist’ side talking.
3. Specialist. This entrepreneur will enter one industry and stick with it for 15 to 30 years. They build strong expertise, but often struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace of competitors. Picture the graphic designer, the IT expert or the independent accountant or attorney.
4. Innovator. You will usually find the Innovator entrepreneur in the “lab” of the business working on their invention, recipe, concept, system or product that can be built into one or many businesses. The challenge with an Innovator is to focus as hard on the business realities as the product possibilities. Too many Innovators are like Dean Kamen, still struggling with the Segway Human Transporter, while holding 440 other device patents.
Of course, discovering your entrepreneur type is only the beginning. After that, it’s all about capitalizing on those strengths, shoring up your weaknesses and building a plan that works for you.
Overall, I see real value in using this methodology in conjunction with incubators, business accelerators and mentoring. I’m not yet convinced that anyone has a fully automated system that will nail your entrepreneurial DNA and help you succeed, despite the unpredictable business and personal realities.
But I see a real opportunity here for every entrepreneur to optimize his impact and his personal satisfaction with a minimum of effort. I challenge each of you to take a hard look at what makes you tick.
By Martin Zwilling