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Understanding the Brain of an Entrepreneur for the Sake of Your Sanity

Understanding the Brain of an Entrepreneur for the Sake of Your Sanity

Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth, wasn’t the first or only person to point out that entrepreneurs tend to fit a specific psychological profile, but he might be the most famous. He made his mark (and his fortune) by helping entrepreneurs leverage the strengths of that profile and mitigate its weaknesses.

Part of that mitigation involved bringing on a team of people who fundamentally think differently, and thus are strong where the typical entrepreneur is weak. Although this solves one set of problems, it opens a new set of personality conflicts between dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneurs and the people they work with.

For better and worse, here are some of the key features of the entrepreneurial mind, and some expert ideas on how to make those features work in the business and with your boss. Entrepreneurs are…

Comfortable with Uncertainty

People who thrive on a reliable, stable environment are usually content to work a regular job, with regular paychecks and a regular time of day to clock out and go home. Entrepreneurs tend to be happier – or at least less stressed – when things aren’t predictable. In most cases, this is because the entrepreneur has at least the beginnings of a plan for every conceivable outcome.

As an entrepreneur be mindful that uncertainty bothers other people, and spend time communicating your plans for likely outcomes to your team.

Working with an entrepreneur, you can help by watching for areas where uncertainty is an objectively bad business plan. Work out ways to help stabilize those situations.

Even More Comfortable With Mistakes

According to most entrepreneurs, a mistake is just a way to spot-check training and systems to find where they can be improved. They’re willing to commit to something just to see if it works. This creates a wonderful environment for coaching and training, because nobody’s expected to do things right on the first try. On the other hand, mistakes are sometimes so costly they’re better avoided altogether.

As an entrepreneur, temper your tendency to move swiftly past mistakes. Take the time needed to analyze the error and learn what lessons it has to teach.

Working with an entrepreneur, avoid the temptation to do “rough draft work” in an environment where mistakes are quickly forgiven and forgotten.

Hit-and-Miss with Their Focus

Entrepreneurs are passionate people. On the plus side, this means they’re capable of long hours of laser focus on the things which interest them. On the negative side, they become easily bored with workaday tasks that don’t light up their creative side.

As an entrepreneur, use systems to help you stay focused on the vital tasks that don’t hold your interest. Use every tool at your disposal to stop procrastination before it starts.

Working with an entrepreneur, find ways to take the work your favorite business owner finds boring. As much as possible, clear up her calendar so she can focus on the passions that drive the business.

Tool-Oriented When Assessing Money and Obstacles

Money and challenges tend to carry emotional weight with most people. They’re tied to the two core emotions from which all other emotions derive: love and fear. Entrepreneurs tend to view both more dispassionately, instead considering money a way to achieve future goals and obstacles as a means by which to grow stronger.

As an entrepreneur, understand that money and obstacles are really important to most of your team. Give them the time and attention others feel they deserve, even if it sometimes feels like you’re speaking a foreign language.

Working with an entrepreneur, pick your battles. Let most of the money and obstacle conversations slide, but be prepared to insist something receive full attention when it’s vital. It’s up to you to know the difference, because your entrepreneur won’t.

Are (Sometimes Too) Optimistic

You have to be an optimist to take that first leap to start a business and trust your livelihood to its success, but entrepreneurs go beyond viewing the glass as half full. They often make plans based on abilities beyond what the company can do, because they are certain the team can develop the needed resources in time to get the job done.

As an entrepreneur, celebrate this trait. It’s your vision that makes you a successful leader and business owner. While you’re at it, spend a little extra time sharing your plans for making your optimistic dreams come fully true.

Working with an entrepreneur,  do your best to stay in an optimistic mindset. Yes, your boss will need the occasional reality check, but most of the time the vision and energy are valuable in their own right.

Not every small business owner is an entrepreneur by nature. Gerber pointed out that many are technicians – people who are extremely skilled at a set of tasks; they run a business because it’s the best way to make a profit from those skills. Technicians have their own psychology, advantages and blind spots. But if you resemble many of the marks above, you’re an entrepreneur.

What Do You Think?

What are some other habits and characteristics of entrepreneurs you’ve noticed? How do you leverage the positives and mitigate the negatives day to day? Share your experience and knowledge with the Kabbage community in the comments below.


Kabbage Team

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