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Is entrepreneurism a gene or skill?

So, what if you aren’t born with the entrepreneurial qualities?

Recent findings and emphasis on personal development show that people can learn an entrepreneur’s (E’s) progressive traits and can borrow on E’s native talents.

There are several entrepreneur types that bring different strengths and experience while they learn new skills. This is a list of Positive Potentials LLC’s2 observations from serving E’s across two decades of business coaching:

1.    The Widget Maker—This type is often mistaken as a classic entrepreneur. These proud, diligent people are adept at doing one thing well—making widgets—Widgets are products and methods that can range from baking cookies to custom car production. The outcome is something they have perfected and want to take to market—They want to reproduce it and sell it. Although they may have no real business sense or experience, they forge ahead, often without a business plan, and launch their idea until they run out of money or personal energy.
Another E in this category is the Episodic E, who may be, for example, a car mechanic.  S/He sees an opportunity to work on windmill turbines and opens a “green” shop or a former shoe sales person starts a boutique. They work on what they know within a comfort zone. Sometimes, they have little awareness of the moving parts of a business because they only focused on their part in it. These E’s must add business skills and hire talent especially if migrating from a non-business field like a mechanical environment.
They are comfortable and adept with their skills, limited by what they know, but may not take time or fear advanced training so they move from one episode to another as part of a long learning curve. Their shops can be chaotic and may waste resources, because they do not have a plan or marketing skills. For example, lawyers and doctors are historically inexperienced business people.
2.    The Innovator—This E likes to tinker. These are not people who want to open a storefront; they want to “build a better mousetrap.”  Often, they will consider selling their idea to Wal-Mart, but do not know how to protect and secure their idea with registered patents or how to attract investors.
They are focused on continuous improvement often coming from a manufacturing or systems background. They believe “necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention,” and use their creativity to solve problems. They are creative people because they see and love how things work.
3.    You’re Fired —This is the reluctant E. Today’s uncertain economic and job climate can create this type of entrepreneur, because they may not have chosen to leave but they were downsized. They gather severance, savings and gumption in an attempt to duplicate the job they just lost.
Their perspective is limited because they only see a tiny part of the working business. This E requires support people to draft a written business map to keep the E on course and add talent to fill in the gaps.
4.    The Last Hurrah—”If not now, then when” logic? Often a mid-life crisis triggers this E, who is restless and sees a last shot at a long-held dream. For example, in the 1990’s, while the economy was stable, “40-Somethings” saw an opportunity to use their 401k’s to start a business if they resigned.  For example, independent coffee houses and bookstores popped up nationwide from these E’s efforts. They may have had access to other resources through their professional networks, too. The Boomers are classical examples of this type. After the economic downturn, many Boomers found themselves unable to retire, so they are back in the job market and ready to pour their energy into a new enterprise.
5.    Buy A Job/Be Your Own boss—This E is slow to action and can be motivated by fear or external pressure, and a “I’d-better-do-something” attitude. These are ideal franchise prospects or owners. They like a template business model. It appeals to those who want order for security, not creativity. They want the illusion of being their own boss, but, in reality, they are bound by the franchisers rules with little flexibility to improvise.

They may hire people to organize offices and billing issues so they do not get bogged down with the details. The good news for them is they can better manage their process adopting E traits. Learning offers them a better degree of competence to check the work of others they hired without being an entrepreneur.
These visionary E’s hold and share a strong mental picture that s/he translates into the support of followers. Their persuasive communication style serves them to sell the dream born out of their passion. An example of this “charismatic selling” is the rise of multi-level marketing companies since 1990 that hype success with images of wealth, fancy cars and exotic travel as payoffs. One must ask what they are really selling.
Importantly, people serving entrepreneurs are wise to understand them and can benefit by teaching them how to marketing, deliver services and hire a lawyer. Service providers who help their E’s achieve their visions, have no loyalty issues, especially when times are tough.
Tip—Identify where the gaps are in your process to start a business. Find support to complete the gaps and write out your plan. The magic begins when you can visualize the outcome and know what resources you need to get started.
A positive first step is to seek out the free programs like at Glendale Public Library for more information www.GlendaleAZ.com/library. Good luck. -MC


·  Kauffman Foundation       www. KauffmanFoundation.com
·  Malcolm Baldrige Quality Principles— http://www.nist.gov/index.html

·  Entrepreneurship.org,      The Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship (PDE)

·  The Phoenix Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com

·  Coaching Programs          EMBA (Entrepreneurial Mastery of Business Assets)

·  ASU Technopolis

·  Positive Potentials’            EMBA Certification Program™

·  Fast Track                        Stealthmode Partners

1 Michael Gerber, The E Myth Revisited, (New York, 1995), pp.19-33.

2 Michelle Cubas, Positive Potentials LLC, https://www.positivepotentials.com, All Rights Reserved, 2000.



As a credentialed business coach and analyst, one of my primary functions is to work with individuals and company managers to clarify where they are presently, where they would like to advance, and what tools they have and need to achieve their desired outcome.

I use a variety of tools to assess perceptions including Platinum Rule instruments, my experience and training in assessing behavior. My preferred tool is the EQ-i®, emotional intelligence inventory. I have specialized training on the EQ-i® and DISC Inventories and access to multiple other sources including a company culture index. I prefer the EQ-i® because it is the least judgmental instrument I have found. It focuses on strengths and areas of development related to the goals set by the individual. For example, people are more likely to apply the EQ-i®’s information rather than label themselves by the Myers-Briggs categories.

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