By Terry Tateossian, founding partner of Socialfix Media, MIT blockchain and AI-certified consultant, speaker and activist.
Each entrepreneur is unique, with their own qualities, challenges, life circumstances and paths. Yet, even the most unique and divergent-thinking people tend to fit into certain archetypes that represent patterns, motivations and characteristics. I define an archetype as a pattern of behavior that occurs across cultures and geographies. Some people are mission-driven and make business choices that are aligned with their principles and values. Others are inventors and innovators who constantly branch out into uncharted territories.
We all have traits ascribed to archetypes that determine the roles that we play as individuals and business leaders. Identifying which of the archetypes we match most closely can help us build our business strengths and talents. Entrepreneurs have many faces. Figuring out which archetype most closely matches your characteristics can make you more aware of your full capacity.
1. The Expert
These entrepreneurs know their trade and become the best of the best before moving to a more competitive environment. They build strong expertise in applying theoretical and practical knowledge and use tried-and-true approaches to solve feasible and relevant problems. They are good at recognizing meaningful patterns and handle complexity well. They are able to identify relevant and important information and filter out the irrelevant.
The downside for experts is that they often struggle to learn the business side of things.
2. The Innovator
Innovators combine a blend of mental resilience, creativity and risk-taking to deliver innovative solutions that can be breakthroughs in their industry. Businesses, systems and processes that solve problems and customer pain points are the main directions I’ve seen innovators gravitate toward.
Innovators are pioneers who have the vision, passion and ability to challenge the status quo. On the downside, they risk running out of money if they invest heavily in innovation and don’t get products to market before the competition does.
3. The Visionary
This archetype has a big vision, charisma and plenty of great ideas. They tend to be enthusiastic about their cause and take steps to make their visions succeed. Naturally, visionary leaders are also focused, as focus is crucial for achieving success. And they have the charisma to inspire others.
Some visionaries are tacticians. They are good at identifying opportunities and innovative ways to achieve their goals. Some are bridge builders who have a talent for creating relationships across lines of difference. And some visionaries are dreamers. They are dreaming of that big product launch or writing that best-seller. However, they may have an unrealistic sense of their abilities, importance and superiority and turn down new opportunities they believe are beneath them.
4. The Builder
Builders are motivated to create, build and turn circumstances to their advantage. They are often described as ambitious, resourceful, organized and disruptive. Think of the greatest leaders in world history, the empires they created and the monuments they built. They were women and men with strategy, clarity, discipline and the ability to inspire subjects to hold the empire together and build palaces, temples, mausolea and pyramids. The same can be said for today’s builders of business empires. They are likely to be confident, ambitious and focused. Empire builders act strategically, delegate tasks and have the ability to inspire teams. Yet sometimes builders become fixated on controlling resources and exercising influence instead of allocating resources strategically.
5. The Delegator
After building their empire for decades, builders are mainly focused on solidifying their power and influence. Delegators, however, are no longer solidifying control and influence but are actually delegating control. Think of people such as Bill Gates or Elon Musk. They have CEOs, CFOs and product, operations and sales managers who are running the show.
Delegators are not only able to successfully pass on responsibility and authority but also think longer-term and set their own course. They see opportunities that others missed, pursue their dreams no matter the circumstances, and view failure as a detour on the road to success.
Which Archetype Are You Most Like?
All entrepreneurial archetypes have strengths, but they also have an Achilles’ heel. There are archetypal identities characterized by permanence, control and stability but also by suspicion and the inability to seek help. All archetypes have strengths and shadows. So, if your light side is in excess, you are better positioned to achieve your bigger goals and get a sense of fulfillment from your work. And if your dark side is in the driver’s seat, this can be detrimental to your business performance. Fortunately, experience has shown me that behaviors and traits can be learned and cultivated.
If you are a visionary and dream big, for example, you may find it difficult to set realistic goals and expectations or focus on your intention to live your dreams. So, to turn your goals into actions, you may need someone who can help you cultivate the self-discipline and focus you lack. This can be a mentor, coach or partner who guides you through the process of learning structure and strategy so that you set realistic goals and targets and stick to them.
If you are a builder, self-discipline, focus and the ability to structure processes are skills you already have. You know how to delegate tasks strategically and have a team of experts to take on some of the heavy lifting. What you may need to learn is how to delegate control, authority and responsibility and not just tasks. To do this, consider investing in training and courses led by successful entrepreneurs or joining a mastermind. You’ll find mastermind groups that specifically focus on delegation, how to identify opportunities to delegate, how to communicate them effectively and what language you should use to define the desired outcome. You may also consider investing in employee training, either through course attendance or a formal training program within your organization, so that the people you’re delegating control to can become more proficient in decision-making processes and you feel good about passing on control.
People have the capacity for reflection, self-awareness and self-management. With mindfulness and a commitment to managing the traits that can derail your business growth, you can make your efforts count and be the hero of your story.