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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Determining Your Entrepreneur Style and Getting Past Your Business Blind Spots

By knowing your brain type and acknowledging your blind spots, you can begin moving towards your vision of success. Which entrepreneur brain type are you?

Michael Cooper




There are times when you may feel overwhelmed, work harder instead of smarter and generally fear that you’re doing it wrong. The truth is, whether you would like to admit it or not, entrepreneurs and executives have blind spots – everyone has them.

Understanding and acknowledging your blind spots is the quickest way to transcend them and start seeing success. To determine what course of action you need to take, first, figure out your brain type.

You can identify your brain type by determining what motivates you, what fears rule you and which information you naturally seek.

The below brain types are based on research done by William Moulton Marston in 1926, the DISC assessment and from my own experience working with and observing entrepreneurs over the past 15 years.

1. Controller + Managers

Motivated by: Status, control, results, looking good and making the right impression
Fears ruled by: Lack of control
Basic information needs: The what and when

2. Innovators + Influencers

Motivated by: Flexibility, blazing a trail, discovery, exploration and recognition
Fears ruled by: Lack of respect
Basic information needs: The what, when and why

3. Nurturers + Harmonisers

Motivated by: Being included, helping others, nurturing others and close relationships
Fears ruled by: Being excluded
Basic information needs: The what, when why and who

4. Systemisers + Analysers

Motivated by: Preparation, accuracy, security
Fears ruled by: Being wrong
Basic information needs: The what, when, why, who, where and how

These brain types classify how we think and make decisions. On top of identifying what motivates and frightens us, they also identify how we store and recall information, what our response is to stress and conflict, and what we naturally avoid and ignore.

Each brain type has specific blind spots – less than optimal habits built into our personal operating systems that cause us to ignore specific business requirements and responsibilities.

Failing to recognise our blind spots can keep us from moving forward professionally.

The good news is now that you have determined your brain type, you can recognise and address the blind spots holding you back from your true potential.

Controllers + Managers blind spots:

Fixating on results, obsessing about time, making too many assumptions, needing to win (while needing others to lose) and taking control from others

How to see success:

  • Gain alignment on goals and structure
  • Tap into people’s passions and talents and get out of their way
  • Allow for failure and learn from it
  • Stop competing and focus on serving customers’ needs
  • Empower employees to make decisions (and mistakes)
  • Coach your employees to grow

Innovators + Influencers blind spots:

Doing too much, avoiding structure, starting too many things, hiring for potential, underestimating and overpromising

How to see success:

  • Recognise and harness your gifts and talents
  • Develop the minimal structure that allows you to thrive
  • Partner with finishers to complete what you start
  • Hire for proof of competence
  • Estimate everything
  • Evaluate your work load before saying yes to anything
  • Restructure your business and personal boundaries to get your needs met

Nurturers + Harmonisers blind spots:

Obsessing about relationships, caving in to pushy behavior, helping others to a fault, avoiding self-promotion and decision making

How to see success:

  • Focus on results
  • Neutralise pushy behaviour by respecting your boundaries
  • Help others after you get your personal needs met
  • Value your contributions and go after your career goals
  • Develop criteria to help you make decisions

Systemisers + Analysers blind spots:

Managing time ineffectively, following rules to a fault, fearing intuition, analysis paralysis (perfectionism), avoiding emotion

How to see success:

  • Focus on deadlines and adjust work accordingly
  • Get alignment on priorities
  • Ask which rules can be broken
  • Make assumptions and state them clearly
  • Determine when things are “good enough” for others to evaluate/give feedback
  • Pay attention to the emotions around you and what they’re telling you


Michael O. Cooper equips right-brain entrepreneurs, creative professionals and agencies with the business mindset, strategies and skills to thrive in a constantly changing environment. He is the founder of and serves as executive coach, facilitator and trainer for design, software, public relations and communications firms, as well as TED Fellows


Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Why Optimism Isn’t Enough – You Need To Also Accept The Brutal Facts

Entrepreneurs tend to depend on optimism in the same way that fish depend on water. It’s absolutely crucial for survival. In fact, it’s arguably the single most important character trait that a successful entrepreneur can have, but it also has a dark side…

GG van Rooyen




A realistic path to success

  • Lead with questions, not answers
  • Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
  • Conduct autopsies without blame
  • Build red flag mechanisms.

No matter how bad your day’s going, it’s probably nothing compared to your average day at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. This was the euphemistically-named prisoner-of-war camp (actually called Hoa Lo Prison) where American soldiers were interned during the Vietnam War. Pilot Jim Stockdale was shot down on 9 September 1965 and sent to the prison. While there, he was tortured, denied medical attention, kept in a windowless cell and locked in leg irons at night. Stockdale spent almost eight years in the prison, and while many other American soldiers died there, he survived.

This brings us to the topic of optimism. You don’t survive eight years in a prison camp by giving up hope. Despite almost impossible conditions (and odds), you need to stay optimistic. Stockdale never lost hope.

“I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade,” Stockdale later said about his time in the prison.

Related: Shark Tank Funded Start-up Native Decor’s Founder on Investment, Mentorship And Dreaming Big

The Stockdale paradox

So, Stockdale was an optimist right? Yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Jim Collins interviewed him while writing his seminal book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. After hearing how Stockdale refused to give up hope and stayed optimistic throughout his internment, Collins asked him who didn’t make it out alive.

“Oh, that’s easy,” he replied. “The optimists. They were the ones who said: ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say: ’We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

From this, Collins identified one of the key things that differentiated great companies from others: The ability to accept brutal facts. Greatness demands optimism, but not in the face of obvious disaster. Collins called this the Stockdale Paradox.

Too much optimism

What happens when a bunch of executives enter a boardroom with their charismatic founder? The founder is optimistic, inspiring… and demanding. He has absurd expectations. He wants the impossible. (Steve Jobs was a good example, who employees said had a ‘reality distortion field’ around him). The executives are eager to seem equally gung-ho, of course, even those who know that a crucial deadline won’t be met, so the brutal facts are ignored.

“We’re going to be shipping product by Christmas,” they all say. And Christmas comes, and Christmas goes. Then they say: “We’re going to ship by Easter. And Easter comes, and Easter goes. And then Thanksgiving, and then it’s Christmas again…

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

An overdose of optimism is a dangerous thing. While optimism is a crucial tool in the entrepreneurial kit (especially when it comes to motivating employees), it can lead to disaster if administered too liberally. Like morphine, a sensible amount can take the edge off a scary reality, but too much will distort reality to such an extent that you become oblivious to existential threats.

And how do you keep your company off the morphine? Collins suggests four things: Lead with questions, not answers. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion. Conduct autopsies without blame. Build red flag mechanisms. If you do this, optimism becomes a powerful tool, and not a ticking time-bomb.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Alan Knott-Craig Weigh In On Living Your Entrepreneurial Dream

From raising capital to getting the most from your employees, business ownership is all about living your dream.

Alan Knott-Craig




How do I chase my dream? — Sam

First, you need money. Moola. Cash. Capital.

Chasing your dream without enough capital is akin to having a premature baby. All the baby’s energy goes into survival rather than growth. Start-ups are not about survival (paying the bills). They’re about growth (getting rich).

Before you chase your dream, make sure you have enough capital. Keep your lifestyle simple and living costs down. Save up enough to last two years. Or marry rich.

I’m considering selling my business. I need help. — Clark

Before you enter M&A conversations, first decide: “Am I a seller?”

You won’t find it easy backing out during negotiations. Don’t start a process you can’t finish. Don’t look for buyers if you don’t want to sell.

Most people I know that sold their business regret it, unless they had a very specific reason: i.e. the business was about to die, or the business can’t grow without a big brother, or they want to leave the country. If that’s your reason, go ahead and sell. If it’s simply to have a pile of cash, reconsider.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

What are you going to do with the money? Put it in your bathtub and wash yourself with notes? Buy fancy cars? Buy a fancy spouse?

Lots of money in your pocket can only tempt you to the dark side. Eventually you’ll get bored and you’ll want to start a business again, and you’ll start all over. If you don’t need to, don’t sell.

How do you instil an ownership mindset in your staff? — Johan

It’s hard to work with people that have no drive. Some people just come to work and go home with no planning or vision or energy. Start with getting rid of the bad apples, then start fine-tuning recruitment to only let in the folks with a good attitude.

Use some of these methods to motivate and encourage buy-in from staff:

  • Ask staff for feedback.
  • Do not tolerate mediocrity.
  • Make sure everyone knows their job.
  • Share information. Keep everyone in the loop.
  • Look after your staff and they’ll look after you.
  • Lead by example. Pick up litter. Be first to office. Be last to leave.

How do I determine what venture to dedicate my energy to and when do I know when to stop pursuing one of the opportunities? — Mike

Go with whatever gets traction first. Ruthlessly scratch everything else off your to-do list. Generally speaking, go with the business with the most tried-and-tested business model. 

I left my former employer to move away from the legal side of things. I know that I have the technical skills in this area and I have used that in completely running the legal side of the micro lending venture, but the ultimate aim is to be an entrepreneur/businessman rather than constantly seen as the ‘lawyer’. Do I discontinue the legal consulting or slowly taper off? — Mike

If you can live without the sideline income, do so. Focus 100% on business. If you need the money, keep selling hours on the side.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig’s Answers On Selling Internationally And Researching Your Idea

I have a very successful farm store. I’m considering expanding countrywide. Any advice? — Elo

Ask yourself “why?”

If the answer is to get rich, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scale your successful farm store.

Maybe a better option is to take the free cashflow of your farm store and invest it in a different business. An annuity revenue business. A business that will make money while you sleep, rather than only when you’re behind the till. Cash cows are hard to come by. If you don’t want to lose your cow, don’t try to scale it unless you’re 100% sure you never have to sell it.

Can you help me flesh out the detail of a pitch to investors? — Mamkhele

There’s only so much you can rely on others for. At some point, you need to man up and do the work yourself. You need to answer the questions yourself. The answers for all pitch-related questions are on the Internet. Google it. No one will save you, only you will save you.

Listen to this

Alan’s audible book Be a Hero: Make Life an Adventure is now available on and

Read by Alan himself, Be a Hero is a collection of stories on how to make your life an adventure by changing your mindset and tackling adversity.

Go to or to download your copy. Be a Hero is also available in Kindle and paperback through

Read ‘Be A Hero’ today


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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

What Real Entrepreneurs Do When They Hear The Word ‘No’

Are you strong enough to push through early struggles?

Jason Saltzman




In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jason Saltzman sits down with two founders to hear their stories of perseverence and resilience.

Raul Tovar is the co-founder of WindowsWear, a fashion tech company based in New York City that archives display windows. He moved from Mexico to New York determined to make something of himself and resolved that he would not go home empty-handed.

Jordan Wan is the founder and CEO of CloserIQ, which builds sales teams for startups. He started his business through tragedy – losing his mother and his marriage in the early stages.

You might think these difficulties – whether moving, or being told their ideas weren’t good enough, or working through tragedy – would be enough to make them give up. But they didn’t. They only spurred them to greater success.

Related: How To Start A Business With (Almost) No Money

Click play to learn more.

This article was originally posted here on

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