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AVODA Group

7 Ways to Make Sense of Your Entrepreneurship Journey

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Entrepreneurs who go through the self-discovery process and find out how they are built up for the entrepreneurial journey are better equipped to meet both the challenges and opportunities of entrepreneurship. While there is no cookie cutter “kind”, usually entrepreneurs are more likely to be one of the seven kinds. The goal of these descriptions is not to recommend the best “kind”. Rather, I would like to help entrepreneurs make sense of their core strengths and weaknesses to bring their ventures to fruition. Whether you are a visionary or a lone-wolf, the goal is to enable you arrive at a core understanding of who you are and how you can compensate for your weakness.

1.Visionary

The Visionary starts a business in pursuit of an idea or a cause, and not primarily for profit. The goal could be anything from “making tele-health affordable”, “starting a business that hires people with autism”, or “creating a flying car”. These entrepreneurs sell a vision to employees and investors. They tend to attract a team around them who also share the same vision and regard financial gain as a secondary motivation.

Strengths:

      • Tends to attract passionate, loyal teams and supporters
      • Tends to be charismatic communicators who always have an inspiring answer to the question “why do we do what we do?”
      • Often the most resilient kind of leaders in the face of setbacks and discouragement
      • Often has big, bold, long-term goals that are not dependent upon the success of one or two initial products or services

Weaknesses:

      • Sometimes, their startups are actually NGOs rather than profit-making businesses
      • Their businesses tend to over-rely on the charisma of their leader (personality cult)
      • The leader often is reluctant to step down even when it is necessary (“this is my vision, my business”)
      • The business has a difficult time pivoting when the need arises

2.Lone-Wolf

Lone-wolves become entrepreneurs out of a conscious or unconscious need to be different or free. They may have strong skills or unique backgrounds, but don’t (or feel like they don’t) fit the mould for most traditional employment categories. Often possessing a strong independent streak, they can feel dissatisfied just doing things other people’s way, or feel repressed in a structured work environment, and consequently end up starting their own business.

Strengths:

      • They often are consummate multitaskers
      • They can possess a wide range of business skills that traditional companies usually distribute among multiple different departments
      • They can work fast and effectively, even without much planning, especially in tasks that require flexibility and intuition
      • They usually have a large network of both high-level executives and fellow lone-wolves.

Weaknesses:

      • They can find it difficult to work effectively in a team
      • They can struggle with work that requires extended periods of self-discipline
      • Operating in teams of one or close to one, they usually lack resources (e.g. finances, time, availability, resilience and risk-tolerance)
      • Most businesses started by lone-wolves do not last, since their survival depends upon the mental, physical, and financial wellbeing of the founder.

3.Opportunist

Opportunists start businesses, often swiftly, in response to discovering one or both of two types of opportunities. The first is when they spot a gap in the market – an unaddressed need that could make money. The second is when they realize they possess a unique skill or capability for which there is a profitable market. In most cases, Opportunists build their startups very quickly, focusing entirely upon one single product or service. Many startups we see on Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sites are started by Opportunists.

Strengths:

      • If the Opportunist is right about the opportunity, the startup can begin to make revenue very quickly
      • The startup is focused; it exists to produce a specific product or offer a specific service, making it easier to valuate, define KPIs, and attract short-term investors
      • In a sense, the fast pace characteristic of such startups can make it the most exciting kind to work for or invest in

Weaknesses:

      • The success of the startup often depends upon the success of one single product of service
      • Startups launched by Opportunists often have short-term goals, making the startup vulnerable to the risk of becoming a “one-shot wonder”
      • Startups launched by Opportunists tend to attract less-loyal teams that value financial gain and materialistic motivators highly

4.Subsistence Entrepreneur

Often living in regions with high rates of unemployment, Subsistence Entrepreneurs start businesses because they have little or no other alternative. In their case, entrepreneurship is about survival and putting food on the table. They make up the largest group of entrepreneurs in the world, although reports of numbers can vary wildly due to the fact that most work in the unregulated, informal sector.

Strengths:

      • Some of the most mentally resilient entrepreneurs in the world.
      • Often very innovative and resourceful about survival
      • Can be very well connected in the local community

Weaknesses:

      • Usually does not have the resources to scale and grow beyond a subsistence level
      • Their informal nature means that they have no access to formal capital markets, such as banks.
      • The mortality of their businesses tend to be very high

5.Strategist

Although somewhat similar to the Opportunist in that they start businesses to address market gaps, Strategists think long term, often targeting or even creating future opportunities and trends that may not be immediately visible today. They research and plan meticulously, and they prepare and execute deliberately. Strategists tend to be shrewd macro-economic thinkers and calculated risk-takers. Finally, Strategists tend to be good at reading, convincing, and even manipulating people in line with their macro strategy.

Strengths:

      • Always tends to be prepared, thinking and staying several steps ahead of competition
      • Tends to plan for corporate growth over multiple sequential products or services (i.e. product life-cycle) rather than for short-term products or services
      • Tends never to take uncalculates risks, never acts randomly, and always places great focus upon metrics, numbers, statistics, and news.
      • Often finds diplomatic ways to manage the team as well as opposition. Often great negotiators.

Weaknesses:

      • Can over-plan, causing delay in decision-making
      • Can over-rely on data, metrics, and statistics.
      • Sometimes comes across as cold, efficient, and manipulative to other team members.
      • Can get irritated or unsettled when plans don’t go according to plan

6.Professional Serial Entrepreneur

These are people who start businesses as a career, often having multiple startups under their name, some of which they started sequentially or concurrently. For them, entrepreneurship is more about the thrill of starting a business than the vision of the individual venture. Starting a business is literally their area of expertise. After launching and divesting multiple startups, they tend to transition into becoming angel investors or advisors for venture capital or private equity firms.

Strengths:

      • They tend to be geniuses at making a business, product, or service investable and profitable
      • They have large networks of VCs, angels, and other funders
      • They tend to be very well diversified against adversity because they have multiple businesses in multiple industries or locations
      • They often have such enormous experience at launching new businesses that they can intuitively distinguish a profitable business idea from one that is not

Weaknesses:

      • Long term commitment in any one venture is usually limited
      • Relies often more on intuition than statistics and data
      • Usually impatient and has a big ego, and can fail spectacularly because of it
      • Not good at listening to advice, and believes in his/her own experience Liao knowledge and track record

7.Attention-seeker

Driven primarily by affirmation or compliments, Attention-seekers start businesses because they enjoy the attention and admiration it so often brings. People talk about an entrepreneur or his/her business most during three specific periods of its growth: the exciting start phase, the growth phase, and the success stages. Unfortunately, Attention-seekers tend to bask in glory during the first phase when everyone is talking about his/her exciting new venture, but quickly lose interest and energy before they can arrive at the second or third stages.

Strengths:

      • Good at getting people excited about something new
      • Usually great at promotion of ideas
      • Often very exciting to work with and impressive to others, at least initially
      • Can make very bold decisions, although often only in order to get attention

Weaknesses:

      • Ultimate goal is attention, and therefore can make bad decisions by sacrificing long term sustainability for immediate, short term attention
      • Interest and dedication in own venture tends to go up and down in step with other people’s interest level
      • After a few “exciting” ventures that subsequently fail, they lose credibility
      • Not interested in the boring, hard work (e.g. back office) that is actually essential to the sustainability of the business
      • Often egotistical and not good at caring for his/her team’s contribution or acknowledging it

As an entrepreneur, you probably already have a general feel about which kind you are and which perspective you usually choose to work with. I hope these seven descriptions allow you to zero down further on how you can complement your strengths with other kinds of entrepreneurs to not just achieve your goals but also scale your business and impact.

 

 

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Jun Shiomitsu

Founder & President at AVODA Group

Founder & President of AVODA Group. Prior to this, Jun was a banker for 13 years in Japan, the UK, and Switzerland, initially as the Assistant Vice President of the Treasury Department of Citibank Japan.

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