Are All Entrepreneurs Wired The Same?

The first time I heard this question I didn’t really care what the answer was. I already knew it. What jumped out at me was that I’d never heard the question asked before. Since I spent 14 years in the financial services industry—one of the most entrepreneurial environments—it was shocking that it never crossed my mind to wonder.

People who are not entrepreneurial know they aren’t. They would rather work where there is stability. Predictable paychecks, working hours and job expectations are what support their lifestyle. They tend to think that entrepreneurs are a bit crazy.

Nope. Not The Same

Working for many years, with dozens of entrepreneurs, solidified my belief that, yes, entrepreneurs are a bit crazy. And yes, I knew that they are different than most people. Beyond that difference, though, it was only the personalities of entrepreneurs that were different from each other. Or so I believed.

Then I listened to Joe Abraham, author of Entrepreneurial DNA, on a live webinar. He revealed to an audience of stunned business coaches (at least I was stunned) that there are actually 4 very distinct types of entrepreneurial DNA. Having coached many executives, Mr. Abraham had reached a tipping point of frustration. In a brief period of time, he’d coached key executives at three similar companies. These executives had very similar roles. Their coaching goals were nearly identical. In short, he was coaching three entrepreneurs looking for the same outcomes. So, he applied the same coaching guidance to all of them.

It made sense for him to expect that their coaching results would mirror each other.

But that’s not what happened.

Weeks later, a puzzled Joe Abraham sat at his desk, doodling on a sheet of paper. The question nagged at him:

Why is it that when I’m coaching the same type of executive, in the same type of industry, for the same type of coaching goals, one person makes huge progress, one makes small steps, and one fights me?

Four Types of eDNA

As Joe scribbled more notes down on his yellow pad a picture emerged. It wasn’t about personality types, after all. That was not a robust enough lens to look through.

It didn’t take long before Joe had developed a full-bodied view of entrepreneurs through the lens of their entrepreneurial impulses, preferences, and reflexes. In a word, their entrepreneurial DNA, in four varieties: builder, opportunist, specialist, and innovator.

As I heard him discuss the 4 types, I kept thinking how incredibly helpful it would have been to know this during my career as a 1st-level field leader. It was sort of like watching years of work experiences play through my memory. Except now I was seeing through corrective glasses, where everything finally grew amazingly clear. What had confused me in the past, now made sense. Almost painfully. There was so much more that I could have done to assist those I’d led. In just a short webinar, I now had much more insight and it would have helped me coach them to greater success. It was exhilarating to hear him share his victories of coaching people with this new-found eDNA clarity. His results were amazing.

Round Peg, Square Hole

Of course, he has already published a fantastic book that goes into this in great depth. But here’s a taste of what a huge difference understanding entrepreneurial DNA can make, through my coaching lens.

The financial service industry—whether it is in the investment, insurance or banking arena—must have specialists in order to win.

Specialists make up more than half of all entrepreneurial DNA, so it makes sense you’d find them in virtually all business enterprises. The reason specialists are so important in financial services is this: what matters most to a specialist is delivering a great client experience.

That impulse is a very good thing for the company in which the specialist works, and it is certainly good for the client. The financial professional is fulfilled in their work. It shows.

The Problem of Not Knowing What You Don’t Know

There is also a problem.

Financial service companies aren’t really looking to hire specialists. They want to onboard a boatload of opportunists, because what matters most to opportunists is making something happen, landing the big sale and, sometimes, even crushing their competitor.

The opportunist’s impulse is also a very good thing for the company. In fact, opportunists are essential to their ongoing viability.

However, it is rare to find both opportunist and specialist eDNA in one entrepreneur. So financial companies, without clearly understanding this, unintentionally build expectations that are nearly impossible to meet:

Bring on this (big) number of new clients every year while taking raving-fans care of the clients you already have.

For most financial professionals, this is a daily struggle, trying to behave in a way that often feels very uncomfortable. For their field leaders, it is maddening. This is why I found Joe’s presentation to be a revelation. It explained why so many really great people I’d worked with hadn’t made it. They couldn’t continually fight against their strong Specialist DNA, trying to be the Opportunist the company demanded they become.

Proper Alignment

Would you expect a greyhound to behave like a beagle? Are golden retrievers known for their guarding skills?

Obviously, the challenge of being encouraged to play to one’s entrepreneurial strengths is in every industry.

Aligning your work to your entrepreneurial DNA dramatically improves success, just like proper alignment in a car makes it drive straight, efficiently and easily.

Happily, entrepreneurs can quickly discover their eDNA. So the first step to alignment is easy.  They can take a free Entrepreneurial DNA Assessment. Joe Abraham went deep into testing his working theory about eDNA. The result was 3+ years of research, with thousands of entrepreneurs participating, and led to the confirmation of BOSI (the 4 eDNA types). The assessment shows individuals where they land in a behavioral quadrant that segments entrepreneurs into those 4 very different types. More extensive assessments are available for individuals, as well as work teams.

Finally figuring out which type of entrepreneur you are—Specialist, Builder, Opportunist or Innovator—can be liberating. Understanding your eDNA instantly provides eye-opening insights into the predisposed strengths, challenges and best practices for entrepreneurs who are wired the same way you are.

The basic eDNA assessment is free, and it takes only a few minutes to complete. There is a lot to gain. So why wait?

Once you have completed it, compare your eDNA profile to those in your peer network. This brings powerful insight that you’ll be able to leverage into a better community. You’ll have richer networking experiences and build a stronger corporate team.

Click on the image and discover your Entrepreneurial DNA.


NEXT TIME: 5 reasons why knowing just the basics of eDNA will immediately improve your business success.