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This article was published on May 24, 2011

7 Types of Entrepreneurs; which one are you?

7 Types of Entrepreneurs; which one are you?
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

‘Entrepreneur’ is a pretty broad, and often abused, word. How do you define it and what do you need to do to call yourself one? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that there are a lot of different types of entrepreneurs. Here are a few typical entrepreneurs you might meet. Which one are you?

The Manager Entrepreneur
This is the type of person who becomes involved with startups once they have received a fair bit of funding and are just beyond the first high-risk stage. These people often call themselves entrepreneurs because they are close to entrepreneurs and have worked at startups. I think it is safe to say these entrepreneurs are more like managers then entrepreneurs and they might be very good at it too.

The Setup For Failure Entrepreneur
This is the kind of entrepreneur that has failure written all over everything he does. All he does is complain, and when he takes on a project it is too ambitious and destined to fail even before he starts. he never gives up, of course, but you wish he would.

The Lifestyle Entrepreneur
Some people just want to live the life and act the part. They promote entrepreneurship, have lots of ideas about entrepreneurship but they don’t actually do anything. Well, maybe consult a bit on the side.

The Cash-flow Entrepreneur
This entrepreneur doesn’t think about anything except money. In general that can be a good thing for an entrepreneur but some people overdo it. Entrepreneurship is about the bottom-line but also about innovation, inspiring your team, thinking ahead and building something out of nothing. Spending your days with a calculator counting your money might feel productive, but is it entrepreneurial?

The Wannabe Entrepreneur
Every now and then I meet people who work at a company, have been working at companies their whole life, and will probably always work at a company. Within minutes they tell me they are entrepreneurs too. Deep inside, waiting to burst out, is their entrepreneurial spirit. All they need is a great idea, enough money to stay alive for, oh, one or two years, and the assurance that money will soon start to flow. Unfortunately that isn’t exactly how being an entrepreneur works and precisely the reason these people still work at a big company. Becoming an entrepreneur is as much a profession as any other and generally with a lot more risk. The wannabe entrepreneur will most likely never progress beyond the wannabe stage. And that might be the best for everybody.

The Headlines Entrepreneur
Some entrepreneurs are in it strictly for the fame. They rush from one headline to another and are more focused on making it to the front page of the newspaper than actually doing business. Your company is doing well when you get lots of customers, make a lot of money and your investors are happy. Headlines are great to show off to your mother.

The Better World Entrepreneur
This entrepreneur isn’t into entrepreneurship for the money but to make the world a better place. This is an awesome goal of course but often quite contrary to being a good entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong: being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to screw the world. But your first focus should be in making your company more successful and then using your success to make the world a better place. Not the other way around.

Did you recognize yourself in one of these stereotypes? Not 100% right? Me neither. But I guess we aren’t perfect and maybe we all have a little bit of the Headlines Entrepreneur inside of us. And sometimes it is good to take some distance to prevent you from becoming the Cash-flow entrepreneur but without becoming the Lifestyle Entrepreneur.

Again, being an entrepreneur is not a clearly defined thing. We balance our lives and try to stay away from the extremes. Some days we are managers and other days we are motivators or there to inspire.

Being an entrepreneur means being different kinds of things at different moments. That makes it a challenging but never boring profession.