What type of entrepreneur are you?

Posted on August 7, 2015 by Eleanor McKenzie
Writing on a notepad

I’m easily diverted by a Buzzfeed quiz. If you haven’t discovered them, these quizzes will reveal what your job was in a previous life, which actor/actress should play you in a film, what kind of phone is right for you and how many 80s hits can you remember. These quizzes are a wonderfully meaningless way of taking a break these days; in fact, I’d call them ‘the new cigarette break’, partly because they’re addictive and partly because they fill the space that used to be occupied by popping out for a smoke.

So, when I discovered The Five Types of Entrepreneur by Jane Gomez, who is MD of The Supper Club, I could feel a kind of Buzzfeed moment coming on. The Supper Club is for CEOs and business founders who want to network with peers who have the relevant and right level of experience. As The Supper Club’s founder, Duncan Cheatle, points out, there are lots of unhelpful networking events and not enough targeted and focused ones.

It’s now widely accepted that the over 50s are leading the new business start-ups in the UK and that entrepreneurs who have reached this age are twice as likely to succeed as a person in their 20s or 30s. We have preconceived ideas about entrepreneurs that start with them being young and probably risk takers who like innovation. However, as Jane Gomez points out, apart from the fact that the majority of entrepreneurs are more likely to be male—only 18% in the UK are female—most of them don’t conform to the stereotype and she has identified five types of entrepreneurial personalities: which one do you think you are?

The Cuckoo

This type of entrepreneur has the characteristics you might expect of somebody who is a business leader. The Cuckoo is always seeking new thrills, and looking for new homes of course. As Jane Gomez says, the Cuckoo has “fingers in many pies” and he/she spends life looking for new business opportunities. The Cuckoo is never afraid of testing the market potential of a new product or service; in fact, they live for the excitement that comes from sailing in uncharted waters. Keeping up with them can be exhausting, but if you enjoy the thrill of fairground rides, then working, or living, with them should be all the excitement you need. Jack Dorsey of Twitter is a prime Cuckoo example.

The Brains

The Brains is driven to find practical and scientific solutions. They are constantly on the hunt for innovative ideas that can be manufactured, or they create a cutting-edge way of delivering a service. Brains entrepreneurs tend to be perfectionists and may struggle if they are asked to deliver anything other than the best model or service. This is the entrepreneurial type most likely to include the slightly eccentric inventor. James Dyson is a typical Brains.


Businessman climbing stairs

The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper is one of the more common personality types. As in the famous poem, the Pied Piper in business life is an inspirational leader who has the kind of charisma that magnetically attracts followers. They not only inspire their staff and investors, they also create a loyal customer following. The Pied Piper has excellent people skills and they’re usually found playing a central role in their business, because there is nobody better at selling their product than them. There is a risk that a business based on such a strong personality will collapse if they leave. Alan Sugar and Richard Branson are both Pied Pipers.

The Disruptor

The Disruptor likes to break the rules. They skim read the ‘business rule book’, take what they want and throw the rest away. The Disruptor is likely to be highly creative and value that above all else; they are also likely to be dreamers and to think in a very right-brained way compared with other, more conventional entrepreneurs. They are innovative and are always looking beyond what already exists; they want to solve problems that consumers didn’t even know they had. Steve Jobs was the ultimate Disruptor of our generation

The Campaigner

The Campaigner falls more into the category of social entrepreneur. They want to change the world and they are extremely passionate about their cause. They are likely to have the same kind of charisma as the Pied Piper, because they will need to inspire people to follow them. Jane Gomez says that although it feels like this personality is new to the entrepreneurial scene, they have actually been around for some time. Some of them manage to combine a cause with a thriving commercial enterprise; Anita Roddick and the Body Shop is a perfect example of this.

I’m sure there are entrepreneurs who don’t fit into any of these categories, but no doubt any of you starting up a new business have qualities from several of these. I might just have a bit of Campaigner in me, but I have yet to find my entrepreneurial cause. I’ll keep checking out Buzzfeed for inspiration.

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.