Entrepreneurs come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, backgrounds and abilities. A startup CEO in Silicon Valley might look very different from a takeaway owner in the West Midlands. A financial company founder on Bay Street in Toronto might have a completely different life than a Bollywood dance studio owner in Mumbai. But successful business owners all have one thing in common—at least according to the co-founder of Apple.
What do successful entrepreneurs of all kinds have in common?
In an interview in 1995, Steve Jobs spoke about what makes successful entrepreneurs able to do what they do. He said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Jobs added, “It’s pretty much an 18-hour-day job, seven days a week for a while. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about, otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.”
For Jobs, as for many business leaders, what you look like or where you’re from isn’t nearly as important as what you’re passionate about and how you channel that passion into your business. For instance, are you the type of entrepreneur who cares deeply about social or environmental change? Did you encounter a problem in your everyday life and have a breakthrough idea? Are you an expert with a particular set of strengths? Are you the kind of person who loves coming up with new business ideas and business ventures? What kind of business owner are you and how does that influence your life and your business? Find out now!
Keep reading to discover four types of entrepreneurs and which entrepreneur type you belong to
Discover four types of entrepreneurs
We’ve broken down entrepreneur types into four categories: serial, specialist, accidental and activist.
Activist entrepreneurs make the world a better place
An activist entrepreneur or social entrepreneur is a person who starts a business to directly address a social or environmental issue. This founder type is passionate about making a positive impact on the world around them. Now, don’t confuse this entrepreneurial type with an altruist. Activist entrepreneurs want to make money and grow a business—they just want to save the world while they do it.
Who is an example of an activist entrepreneur?
Arguably the best-known example of an activist entrepreneur is Blake Mycoskie of TOMS. Back in 2006, Mycoskie was vacationing in Argentina when he met a volunteer at a shoe drive, and had an idea that put him on a path to success. The former Amazing Race contestant came up with the one-for-one business model that made TOMS what it is today: a multi-million-dollar brand that has donated well over one million pairs of shoes to people in need all over the world.
Accidental entrepreneurs turn problems into solutions
Do you have an MA—not an MBA? Did you never imagine yourself running a business until one day it just happened? Did you try to solve a problem and end up starting a company? You might be an accidental entrepreneur!
While some people grow up dreaming of business plans and becoming a seasoned business owner, others find something they’re passionate about and stumble into entrepreneurship—they are accidental entrepreneurs. These people aren’t graduates of Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School or the Haas School of Business, but they identify a problem, fix it and grow a company in the process. Plus, it turns out that the vast majority of these innovative entrepreneurs are happier as accidental entrepreneurs than when they were working for someone else.
Who is a good example of an accidental entrepreneur?
Let’s look at Sara Blakely of Spanx. In the late 1990s, the former Walt Disney World Resort employee was spending her days selling fax machines door-to-door when she encountered a problem and was inspired to solve it. Blakely wanted to wear a pricey pair of white pants that were hanging in her closet, but she couldn’t find any shapewear that both looked great and felt comfortable to wear underneath them—so she designed her own. By the end of the year 2000, Blakely had launched her brand and promoted it on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Two decades later, she’s been named the youngest self-made woman billionaire and her shapewear solutions hang in women’s closets around the world.
Specialist entrepreneurs wear two different hats
Are you really good at one particular thing? Are you driven by one specific goal? Does your business serve a niche market? You might be a specialist entrepreneur!
A specialist entrepreneur is both a business leader and an expert with a specialized set of skills. Specialist entrepreneurs often include professional people such as doctors, lawyers and chefs; tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics; and craftspeople such as cobblers, leatherworkers and potters. This kind of business owner is passionate about their speciality—often putting that first and their business goals second. They tend to be risk-averse and less interested in growing their business and more in maintaining it through customer service.
Who is an example of a successful specialist entrepreneur?
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey is an example of an atypical specialist entrepreneur who has grown multiple businesses and a multi-million dollar personal brand by putting his expertise to use not just in the kitchens of his many restaurants, but on television and in books. Over the years, his restaurants have earned a total of 17 Michelin stars, and he has become one of the most influential celebrity chefs in Britain (and arguably the world). Not bad for someone who started as a pot washer in a local restaurant!
Serial entrepreneurs take risks over and over again
Do you have lots of ideas? Are you always going after the next big thing? Are you 100% comfortable with delegating tasks? You might be a serial entrepreneur!
A serial entrepreneur takes an original idea and runs with it—and then takes another idea and does it again… and keeps doing that over and over again. They tend to be most excited about building a business. Once they establish a business, they often delegate leadership roles and move along. People in this category of entrepreneurship have a high tolerance for risk, often reinvesting their profits into new ideas. They take the chance of success and the chance for failure in stride—sometimes making huge gains and sometimes coming away empty-handed.
Richard Branson of the Virgin Group is the perfect example of a serial entrepreneur
Richard Branson is the quintessential serial entrepreneur. In the 1970s, he founded the Virgin Group. Today, the Virgin Group is made up of more than 40 companies in over 35 countries. But not every idea that Branson executes is a winner. Sure, there are the incredibly successful Virgin ventures such as Virgin Atlantic. However, Branson has also bet and lost on ventures such as Virgin Cola and, ahem, Virgin Brides.
So, what type of entrepreneur are you?
Are you more of a Mycoskie or a Branson? A Blakely or a Ramsey? Do you bring an idea to life and focus on it for decades? Or do you bring your vision to life and then move on to the next vision? Whichever category of entrepreneurship you fit into, one thing is for certain—if you’ve chosen this career path, it’s because you’re deeply passionate about it. So, keep on keeping on. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll be quoting your words in the opening paragraphs of a blog post like this one.
We hope you enjoyed learning about four common types of entrepreneurs and discovering what type you are
Knowing what kind of entrepreneur you are can help you achieve success. By understanding what led you to become an entrepreneur and what you’re passionate about, you can more easily grow your business and find like-minded individuals to collaborate with!
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