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Entrepersonality
Are you hard-wired for business ownership?

Article Link: http://www.iqmag.org

By Britta Reque-Dragicevic

tear2Honeybees swarm around their hive in apparent pandemonium. Dare to examine them closer, however, and you may notice that some bees only gather nectar or fertilize eggs. Others care for the young or stand guard. Very few ever ascend to the queen’s throne. Each type of bee is predisposed toward a unique and valuable role in the colony-much like the personality differences between brazen entrepreneurs and those of us who play it safe.

In his 2006 book titled The Entrepreneur Next Door, author Bill Wagner asserts that there are not just one, but four personality profiles that lend themselves to entrepreneurial success. Based on a study of more than 1,500 accomplished entrepreneurs, Wagner linked business success with the common traits of those he described as Go-Getters, Trailblazers, Motivators, and Managers. In contrast, his Authority, Collaborator, and Diplomat personalities did not lend themselves as naturally to the leadership demands of start-up success.

According to Wagner, that’s not to say that a worker bee could never be a queen, metaphorically speaking
“After defining key personality traits, we found that 70 percent (of those we studied) had personalities that were very well-suited to their businesses,” says Wagner, “but it was the 30 percent that didn’t have the ideal personality that intrigued me. They had a high level of self-awareness that allowed them to accommodate who they were and who they needed to be to become successful.”

He points out that being aware of your entrepreneurial personality can help you make beneficial business decisions such as hiring complementary employees, maximizing strengths, and minimizing weaknesses.

How do Minnesota entrepreneurs apply their hard-wired traits to launch and run winning businesses? We asked four of them to peg their own personality profiles and reveal their secrets of success.

Paul Streitz
Advanced Lighting Systems, Sauk Centre

Go-Getter
31 Percent of All Entrepreneurs

Traits
Extremely independent, competitive, ambitious
Seeks out challenges and tough problems to tackle
Takes great risks to achieve great rewards

Achilles’ Heel
Team-building

Industry
LED and Fiber-Optic Lighting Systems
(www.advancedlighting.com)

Beginnings
I was working as a flight attendant. On a layover, I saw a guy installing fiber-optic lights in a casino. I asked if I could sell his products on commission only. He said, “Why not?” I hit up every airline passenger and landed a big one-Chuck E. Cheese’s. After three years, I started Advanced Lighting. I fought cancer for two years and it gave me the motivation to press forward, not knowing if I would have a chance to do something like this again.

Entrepersonality
I take calculated risks-I don’t jump in without weighing the consequences. I tend to stay ahead of my competition, coming out with new products before they do. I never do anything halfway.

Arch-Enemy
Growing at a pace the lighting market wants to grow without having the investment dollars to follow.

Moment of Truth
When we lit up the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Words of Wisdom
Value each customer, vendor, and employee as if they are part of you. It always comes back to you in repeat business, good service, and loyalty.

Jack and Betty Thomas
Mann Lake, Ltd., Hackensack

Trailblazer
29 Percent of All Entrepreneurs

Traits
Extremely goal-oriented, strategic thinker
Relishes having autonomy, authority, and influence
Highly energetic, with sense of urgency

Achilles’ Heel
Collaborating

Industry
Beekeeping equipment and supplies
(www.mannlakeltd.com)

Beginnings
We got started in 1984 when we attended a beekeeping tradeshow and found that there was room for growth and improvement in the industry. We entered our business when the main competitor had the market tied up for one hundred years. With aggressive marketing, new products and an emphasis on service, we pulled the rug out from under them in just four years.

Entrepersonality
We match the Trailblazer type well. We didn’t want to be tied to someone else’s clock.

Arch-Enemy
At first, it was finding the right people to help our company grow. Employees were disciplined or dismissed if they did not follow our rigid standards of excellence. Now we employ forty-five to fifty-five people and many have been with us for ten-plus years.

Moment of Truth
When the industry started looking at us for developments, products, and expert opinions.

Words of Wisdom
Have a live person answer your phones all the time. Be extremely visible at conventions, trade shows, etc. You won’t learn anything by staying home. Listen to your customers, find their problems, and solve them.

Krystal Quade
Rock On Enterprises, Waite Park

The Motivator
13 Percent of All Entrepreneurs

Traits
Extremely energetic, self-starter, driver of change
Urgency to get things done quickly
Emotional communicator, team-player, and salesperson

Achilles’ Heel
Staying focused

Industry
Wholesale rock, aggregate, and materials trucking (www.rockontrucks.com)

Beginnings
I wanted to earn a little extra money, because I had just taken a drastic pay cut moving from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud. I got started when I was twenty-five with one truck and one trailer. Now at age thirty, I have grown to own five semis and thirty trailers and broker work for fifty owner-operators.

Entrepersonality
Personality helps, but knowledge is still most important. I motivate a mostly male-oriented business by encouraging my workers to focus on meeting their own goals and by offering rewards for them to strive for. I also choose employees who are driven, so to speak.

Arch-Enemy
Earning respect in a male-dominated construction industry.

Moment of Truth
When I felt secure enough to finally quit my full-time banking job in 2003.

Words of Wisdom
Taking risk is okay, but never put all your eggs in one basket. Try not to burn bridges, because you never know when you might work with that person or business again.

John Herou
E-Ride Industries, Princeton

Manager
6 Percent of All Entrepreneurs

Traits
Extremely assertive, confident in own ideas
Takes time to think things through, process-driven
Persistent enough to stay the course and get results

Achilles’ Heel
Listening to others

Industry
Electric vehicles
(www.e-ride.com)

Beginnings
I began the original company in 1989 after designing a golf “car” for my four kids. Someone saw my kids driving it around and asked if they could buy one. I started making luxury golf carts that sold around the world to many dignitaries and celebrities. When the market dropped off in 2001, I reformed the company around a new prototype for a low-speed, electric neighborhood vehicle. We now make the largest electric vehicles in the United States, which are used on college campuses, golf courses, airports, military bases, in neighborhoods, and industrial settings.

Entrepersonality
I like to think of myself as a positive person who simply will not give up. I believe things can work if you put your mind to it. That’s how I’ve always been.

Arch-Enemy
Financing. That’s the biggest obstacle for many entrepreneurs.

Moment of Truth
When oil prices rose and people became more aware of global warming, all things combined for the right market for this.

Words of Wisdom
Be persistent and don’t ever quit. We laid everything on the line for this business. IQ