Understanding Your Personality Type Can Make You a More Successful Entrepreneur. Here's How.

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Entrepreneurs play a vital role in the global economy by spearheading innovation, fostering job creation and pioneering entire industries. By helping entrepreneurs understand themselves, insights into personality type can help them operate more efficiently, resulting in tangible advantages to the economy and society at large (not to mention their employees).

Psychometric assessment can be a powerful tool for providing insight into how entrepreneurs tend to operate and what makes them tick. A recent study by my firm found a relationship between an individual’s Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality type and the attributes they perceive as either aiding or hindering their success as an entrepreneur.

In this article, I’ll explore how type preference can give clues to areas that entrepreneurs can either leverage or that they need to pay attention to. But first, let’s look at some of the more general characteristics typically exhibited by entrepreneurs, and how they may impact performance.

Related: Your Personality Type Determines Your Leadership Potential. Here’s How to Find It – And Unlock Its Full Power.

General attributes contributing to success or failure

My firm’s research found that entrepreneurs displayed a notably greater inclination toward creativity, risk-taking, impulsivity and autonomy. Likewise, the businesses they lead tend to be less structured and hierarchical than typical organizations.

While there can be clear positive aspects to these characteristics and this approach to business, the study indicates that entrepreneurs might be placing excessive emphasis on passion, enthusiasm and cooperation. Conversely, they might be undervaluing the more practical aspects of business such as administrative tasks, attention to detail, marketing and sales. Similarly, those who expressed dislike for data, statistics, finance-related matters and networking tended to demonstrate comparatively poorer performance.

While these findings might provide a general starting point for self-improvement, I’ve observed in my own consulting that these sorts of descriptions are usually a little too vague to be actionable. However, when people begin to understand the nuances regarding how these descriptions may play out according to their own personality type, they can be addressed in much more tangible ways.

According to the MBTI model, personality can be described by preferences along the following dimensions:

  • Extraversion or Introversion (E-I), which describes people’s orientation toward the outer world and how they gain/focus their energy

  • Sensing or Intuition (S-N), which reflects one’s preference for how they take in information

  • Thinking or Feeling (T-F) which describes people’s emphasis on either the tasks and logical consequences or personal/social values in their decision-making processes

  • Judging or Perceiving (J-P), which describes whether people tend to orient themselves toward the outer world in a more decisive and planned or flexible and spontaneous way

Let’s explore, according to a few different MBTI personality types, inherent entrepreneurial strengths that can contribute to success as well as aspects that, if left unattended, could potentially hinder it.

The entrepreneurial approach of the conserver (ISTJ, ISFJ)

Those with favorite processes of Introverted Sensing often tend toward being detail-oriented, knowledgeable, structured, organized, focused, reliable, punctual and natural avoiders of procrastination. However, as the study notes, these individuals may want to exercise caution regarding their potential:

  • Propensity toward risk aversion that could lead to missed opportunities

  • Hesitation in making critical decisions and temptation to engage in less strategically significant activities as a form of displacement

For example, imagine an ambitious tech startup founder who possesses a wealth of knowledge in their field and is incredibly detail-oriented, organized and reliable. Despite these clear advantages, their risk-averse nature and hesitation in decision-making pose challenges as they navigate the unpredictable startup landscape.

Recognizing the need to fine-tune their entrepreneurial skills, they might seek out specific training focusing on strategic thinking and decision-making under uncertainty. Successful training would enable them to learn to reframe their perspective on risk, understanding that they can parlay their natural talent for detail and structure into calculated risk-taking. It would also help them learn methodologies to analyze and prioritize tasks critical to a startup’s success, avoiding the trap of postponing strategically significant actions.

As they apply these newfound skills, they’ll evolve into a more dynamic and well-rounded entrepreneur, striking a balance between their meticulous, detail-oriented nature and a more strategic, risk-embracing mindset.

Related: What Your Personality Type Says About Your Career Destiny (Infographic)

The entrepreneurial approach of the explorer (ENFP, ENTP)

At the other end of the spectrum, those with favorite processes of Extraverted Intuition may show strong social confidence, evidenced by a robust network of contacts. Moreover, they may be well-served by curiosity, innovation, willingness to explore novel approaches and embrace risks, adaptability and generally enthusiastic demeanor. However, they may also possess a:

  • Tendency to get easily distracted from the tedium of administrative tasks which could lead to overlooking errors, including in financial matters

  • Dislike for structured approaches that may produce disorganization

  • Susceptibility to distraction from critical immediate tasks by new and intriguing ideas

For instance, consider an entrepreneur leading their own innovative tech startup who’s known for their social confidence and an extensive network of contacts within the industry. Their curiosity, innovative spirit and enthusiasm that initially drove the creation of their company, however, walk hand-in-hand with challenges that make them less effective in managing the administrative aspects of the business.

Recognizing this, they seek training focusing on enhancing their organizational skills, attention to detail and time management.

During the training sessions, they address the inclination to overlook details in financial and administrative matters, focusing on tools and techniques for effective management. Additionally, they explore how to improve their approach to structured planning. To mitigate their aversion to structure, they focus on flexible planning methodologies and creating adaptable yet comprehensive plans that allow for creativity while maintaining organizational coherence.

As they implement these strategies and techniques, they develop an approach that is flexible yet structured, allowing them to maintain organization while fostering innovation and remaining diligent in overseeing detailed matters and administrative tasks.

Tying it all together with a personality type-based approach

These two scenarios are, of course, only descriptive of four of the sixteen MBTI types. But in either of these cases, understanding of type offers important clues as to how they’ll likely fall prey to some of the pitfalls common to entrepreneurs running their own businesses.

By understanding their key entrepreneurial strengths and vulnerabilities, they can take a tailored approach to their growth areas, while leaning into their strengths and preferences. In some cases, this involves identifying a somewhat modified approach to an area of concern that, rather than forcing them to be something they’re not, allows them to flex comfortably to be what their company needs.

Related: 10 Personality Traits of Legendary Entrepreneurs

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