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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

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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 InnovatorsandInfluencers.com and serves as executive coach, facilitator and trainer for design, software, public relations and communications firms, as well as TED Fellows

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gavin Rens

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:46

    It’s good to recognize my type (innovator/influencer), and the blind spots are spot on.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success

What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?

Marc Wachsberger

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South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.

Be smart about scale

When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.

At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.

However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.

Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick

Know your talents – and your limitations

There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!

Use your skills – but know when to hand over

My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.

In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks

This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

Lisa Illingworth

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“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.

The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.

Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.

In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.

Related: 5 Infamous Risks Every Entrepreneur Must Face

Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.

I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.

None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

Nicholas Bell

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For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.

Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…

1. Believable vision

Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.

2. Be inclusive

You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.

Related: 4 Ways To Improve Your Budgeting Skills

3. Communication is critical

If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.

4. Be visible and transparent

You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.

5. Be practical

You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.

Related: Crucial Skills You Need To Be An Entrepreneur

6. Build opportunities

As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.

7. Be human

It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.

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