Finding your path —Entrepreneur, Pioneer, or Achiever

Lot’s of people are becoming entrepreneurs these days. After a short Google I found out that statistics in Holland show that half of all starting entrepreneurs are under the age of 35. A new generation of innovators and game-changers. Pretty neat! Right?

Through this quick article I hope to help people with some insights about finding their own path to success in the startup world. Because the question is.. Is every innovator be suited to becoming an entrepreneur?

Anyone can cook

I think a great way of sharing my opinion on this matter is through the brilliantly crafted Pixar story “Ratatouille”. In this story a chef named Auguste Gusteau releases a book called “Anyone Can Cook”, which is disregarded by a powerful critic because he believes that the title statement is wrong. But through the film the very same critic is introduced to extraordinary cooking talent originating from a very humble place, and becomes convinced of the statement — but from a different angle:

“Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

The way I like to read this is that when you are on a path that fits you, you can become great; no matter who you are. Yet, the same statement comes with another insight. Are you meant to be an artist? or are your talents meant to be used in another way? What is your path?

Entrepreneur, Pioneer or Achiever?

From my experience there are three main types of entrepreneurial characters — each of which is important to a new business, so long as they are allowed to flourish in the path that fits them. The three character types are:

  • Entrepreneur: people who understand the political games and business chess moves needed to bring a great idea to market. They are realists, strategists and problem-solvers. They look to connect the right people at the right time and know how to work their way around obstacles.
  • Pioneer: people who are always looking to improve and create better situations. They do not like to be complacent, and spend most of their time exploring, learning and making new connections.
  • Achiever: people who take the insights of the pioneer and the guidance of the entrepreneur and actually make stuff happen! This can be by building the product experience, the product story, the company culture, or even the space you work in.
From left to right: Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Jony Ive (with hair!)

Many people who start a business may be entrepreneurial, but are not necessarily the Entrepreneur.

I for one am a Pioneer, and not so much an Entrepreneur. However, when I started of my businesses (Nupky and OOOH studio) I did not know there was a difference; or how important it was to your own job satisfaction. This resulted in a very unfortunate situation where I was working entrepreneur hours and speed, but not feeling fulfilled enough in my work.

So if you are considering starting a business, find out which of the three types of person you are and then gather the missing character types around you. A strong team will support you and make the startup experience something worth remembering!

The 5 skills of starting up

Lastly, is starting a business meant for you at all? In spirit of a fun-to-read clickbait article, I have gathered together a list of difficult situations that every entrepreneur will face. If you see yourself having all of these traits, then please do become an entrepreneur! We need the innovators!

1. They are comfortable with financial insecurity

Many people think that financial up’s and down’s are something that happens at the start of a business, and that over time your finances become more balanced out.

From my experience and the experience of other entrepreneurs I know, the only thing that changes over time is that the peaks and valleys become exponentially larger and are simply spread over more time. Instead of being up €30,000 one month, and broke the next month, you now have one quartile where you are up €2 million, and the next where you have €0,5 million in debt. With good financial and business planning you can balance this out more, but this is never a certainty.

All entrepreneurs achieve a certain comfort with this so they can function.

2. They negotiate with confidence

No business deal is done without negotiation. What value is your client getting from you, and what value are you getting from them (usually money). Negotiating is about being confident in your financial worth at all times, and making sure that you both get the best possible deal .

3. They are naturals at acquisition

Many people get stressed applying for a job. The way it makes you feel when the company won’t reply and you have to email them again for a response. Or god forbid, call them… Are you hassling them?

As an entrepreneur you need to feel comfortable doing this, and often times not even realize that you are doing it. You are simply being social and sharing what business you do with everyone. This is because applying for a job is almost identical to acquisition; except an entrepreneur will do that every day of the year (yes even on holiday) for many simultaneous jobs.

4. They make hard calls

This will likely be a weekly, if not daily occurrence as a business owner. It may be the moment you tell your main client that their offer is not good enough. It may be the moment you fire an employee. It may be the moment you invest in a large change with no guarantee that it will become a succes.

This is where you need to be rational, yet also trust your gut. This decision might be hurtful to someone, and you need to be ok with that.

5. They have limited work/life balance

This one may be obvious, but it should be said. You are going to be working evenings and weekends. Your life becomes your business, and honestly it becomes hard to think about other things in your life. However, if your business is also what you love doing then the idea of a split between work and life is no longer needed!

That’s all folks! Best of luck with your own path :)

P.S. It seems that Tom Kelly wrote about this in a book he wrote: The Ten Faces of Innovation. In his version the Entrepreneur is known as the Organising type, the Pioneer is known as the Learning type, and the Achiever is known as the Building type.