Jun 4 2006

What Kind of Entrepreneur Do You Want to Be?

What Kind of Entrepreneur Do You Want to Be?

I had a great time at Princeton reunions this weekend, as always.  As I was talking to random people, some of whom I knew but hadn’t seen in a long time, and others of whom I was just meeting for the first time, the topic of starting a business naturally came up.  Two of the people asked me if I thought they should start a business, and what kind of person made for a good entrepreneur.

As I was thinking about the question, it reminded me of something Fred once told me — that he thought there were two kinds of entrepreneurs:  people who start businesses and people who run business. 

People who start businesses are more commonly known as serial entrepreneurs.  These people come up with ideas and love incubating them but may or may not try to run them longer term.  They:

– generate an idea a minute
– have a major case of ADD
– are easily distracted by shiny objects
– would rather generate 1 good and idea and 19 bad ones than just 1 good one
– are always thinking about the next thing
– are only excited by the possibility of what could be, not what is
– are more philosophical and theoretical
– probably shouldn’t run the companies they start for more than a few months, as they will frustrate everyone around them and get bored themselves
– are really fun at cocktail parties
– say things like “I thought of auctions online way before eBay!”

The second type of entrepreneur is the type who runs businesses (and may or may not come up with the original idea).  These people:

– care about success, not just having the idea
– love to make things work
– would rather generate 1 idea and execute it well than 2 ideas
– are problem solvers
– are great with people
– are maybe less fun at cocktail parties, but
– you’d definitely want them on your team in a game of paintball or laser tag

Neither one is better than the other, and sometimes you get both in the same person, but not all that often.  But understanding what type of entrepreneur you are (or would likely be) is probably a good first step in understanding whether or not you want to take the plunge, and if so, what role you’d like to play in the business.