Every new entrepreneur faces one common problem when trying to start a business.
What Type of Entrepreneur Should I Be?
- Will I make and sell products?
- Will I sell other people’s products, earning middleman income?
- Will I provide services?
On the surface, this problem looks pretty easy. “Hey, why not look for the one where you’re sure of making loads of money?”
Sure, you could. But this is one easy way to fail. A straight path to be a part of the grim statistics: globally 92% of startups fail every year.
And many of these founders go back to look for an entry-level job.
Want to change the narrative?
Learn all the types of entrepreneur there are. Then choose one where your innate talents gives you an edge over the competition.
So What types are there?
- The Innovator
- The Regular
- The Inventor
1) The Innovator
Innovators introduce a new way of doing something. And then finds a way to make this new way profitable.
The innovator crushes competition through finding a better way. Copying what others have done is what most businesses do. The Innovator does the exact opposite by blazing new trails.
Two classes of innovators exist. The specialist innovator and the execution-driven innovator
The Specialist Innovator
Specialist Innovators spend all their careers in one industry.
One unique feature of this type is the long apprentice system.
In an apprentice system, novices spend many years under a master. During these years, masters help novices focus their talents and innate skills to achieve simple goals. Little by little, novices get better and better as masters help them polish their skills to a shine.
Once they are ready, masters let them go on to become new masters. The term master is a little outdated these days.
So we call masters specialists.
They are specialists because they’ve mastered an area so well that no newbie can compete with them.
Two examples of the specialist innovator could help make the concept clear.
One is the knowledge entrepreneur. These types are experts in technical fields. Fields like software development, medicine, engineering or accounting.
Second is the skilled entrepreneur. These types are the skilled artisans and traders who spend many years learning the trade.
The Execution-driven Innovator
Execution-driven innovators are super practical.
Their process is simple.
First they look out for some profitable problems in the society. Then sift through a mass of possible solutions to these problems.
Their goal at this stage is to choose from what is out there. During this selection phase, they reject most of the existing solutions. Settling for one that is feasible.
The final lap which is what they do better than anyone else. They get so many people to use and depend on this solution. Forever.
A living example is the richest African, Aliko Dangote.
2) The Regular Entrepreneur
This is the most popular type.
Regular entrepreneurs run undifferentiated businesses.
Business for them is an avenue to make quick money.
Solving specific problems for society is not their bit.
The innovators and inventors can go ahead and deal.
Regular entrepreneurs are of two types. One is the imitator entrepreneur. The other is the bureaucratic entrepreneur.
Imitators have less mental stress. They copy to the last detail what works for others, bringing zero of their own ideas to the business of making money.
Sadly, most new entrepreneurs are imitators.
Perhaps this stems from a failed education system. A system where passing an exam depends on the ability to copy the ideas of professors word-for-word.
In such a system, to explore contrary ideas is to court an “F”. And many with this thought process go on to start businesses, doing what they know how to do best. Imitating!
There are more examples of the imitator types than any other type.
Super markets springing up everywhere like weeds. Importers of cheap products from China. Friends selling undifferentiated commodities on their Whatsapp status.
The competition in this class is super crazy. To keep up, most new entrepreneurs of this type use dodgy practices. Going from problem solvers to common criminals.
Bureaucrats believe that “what worked in the past will work in the future.” A bureaucrat only worry is how stable an industry is. Opportunities with too much risk are no-go areas. What matters to bureaucrats is a stable return on investment. Nothing else.
This is the regular path for some new entrepreneurs with a little money to their name. The focus here is to grow wealth little by little. Problem solving is not what they worry about.
Examples are plenty.
Vendors or contractors to large corporations. Traders in organized markets like Alaba. Franchisees (people running a business under a successful brand name). Major distributors for FMCG companies. Salary earners investing in mutual funds and treasury bills. Rural and semi-urban farmers using basic farming tools.
3) The Inventor Entrepreneur
Inventors who go on to become successful business owners are rare.
The richest entrepreneur in the world, Jeff Bezos, is a perfect example of an innovator. According to a Harvard article, Bezos has 46 patents to his name. And some of his personal qualities are rare to find in any new entrepreneur.
You can read the article here.
So you know the types.
What type of entrepreneur should you be? Pretty simple.
It depends on a number of factors. Top of which is your education, experience, network, and capital base.
What I think? If you’re young, you can’t go wrong or broke as a specialist entrepreneur. Just choose a sector you can master in a few years. Then let the 10,000-hour rule do the magic.
Have you made the wrong choice? Is your entrepreneur type not helping you grow your business? Unlike your genotype that is set at birth, you can change your choice today.
A popular Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”