Back when I incorporated my first company a few years ago, I tried to learn as much as I could about the entrepreneurial process and mind set. I joined entrepreneurial organizations and attended events and seminars. One tool that stuck with me after all this time — and which I frequently return to — is a way of classifying entrepreneurs by personality type.
(To give my original source credit, the full test is available from Wealth Dynamics for $97.)
But the basic principle is to figure out whether you’re extroverted or introverted, and whether you’re a practical type or an intuitive thinker, and then use this information to decide what kind of company you want to start and how you’ll do it.
You might already know your personality type from workplace personality assessment tests, but if you don’t, here’s a free test you can take in a couple of minutes.
For example, in my case, I’m 67 percent extroverted (and only 33 percent introverted) and 53 percent sensing (47 percent intuitive).
Now look at the following chart:
If you were 100 percent extroverted and 100 percent intuitive (a big picture thinker rather than a down-to-earth practical type) then you might want to launch a company based around your star power — like Oprah, or Paul Newman.
On the other hand, if you were 100 percent introverted, and 100 percent sensing, you might consider building your company around your practical, technical skills — like Warren Buffett.
Myself, I’m pretty outgoing, so I’d be on the right-hand side of the above chart. Some days, I feel like a star. Other days, I feel like a dealmaker, bringing people together. But my primary strength is as a supporter, which is a common personality type of CEOs like Jack Welch and Meg Whitman.
Now, you don’t have to follow your personality type. But if you’re an outgoing, big-idea person like Oprah, you’d have a hard time forcing yourself into Warren Buffett’s shoes — no matter how much you might admire the man and his style.
Again, I’m not promoting their system. I’m just saying that if you’re looking to start a business, you might want to consider your personality profile before you rush into anything. And now is a good time to think about this, since the number of virtual world companies and users is growing rapidly, and it looks like we might be approaching an inflection point.
(Hopefully, not before I figure out my own business strategy!)
So, how would this work in practice?
Say, you like the idea of being the Yahoo of virtual worlds. You know, like my Hyperica directory — except more complete, up-to-date, and with a working hyperport grid.
If you’re a mechanic profile — big thinker, but an introvert who prefers to work with systems rather than people — you might want to create an automated method of collating all the destination information, build hypergate networks, and figure out how to track the popularity of grids — and suggest destinations to travelers based on their likes, event preferences, or where their friends are going.
If you’re a star, you’ll want to build the company around your personal brand. You might create a video program starring yourself in which you travel around the different grids and meet interesting people there and interview them.
If you’re more of a practical, down-to-earth, sensing type, then you might want to focus on the timing, instead. For example, rather than launching your own directory company, you might want to wait for the right time, and invest in the company that is doing the best job at it right before it goes big. If you’re a trader type, you’ll invest at the right time for the short term, and then sell at the right time to make your profits. If you’re an accumulator type, you’ll invest for the long term, and then watch your portfolio grow.
There’s also another way to use these personality types — to assemble your core team.
Too many entrepreneurs will pick a partner who is as much like them as possible. A star might team up with another star — then spend the whole time battling for the spotlight. Or two mechanics might get together, and constantly quibble about whose ideas are best. In addition, you’ll have the problem of who’s going to be the face of the company. If you pick the best engineer, then the time he or she spends on sales or marketing is time taken away from what they do best. If you make the guy who’s not quite as good do the sales and marketing — well, first, he’ll be even worse at the sales and marketing than he is at engineering. And, second, he’ll resent everyone for making him do something he hates.
Picking partners with different and complementary personality types, on the other hand, not only reduces these kinds of conflicts but also allows for an easier distribution of responsibilities. You can have an accumulator manage your finances. Mechanics and creators setting up your systems. Stars helping create a brand name and identity for your product.