Small Business Academy

11 Jul

7/10/2012

Small-Business-Market-Research-Team5

Who Are Your Successful Small Business Cast of Characters?

Whenever I try to picture what an innovator looks like, I get the same slideshow of images across my mind’s eye: that photo of Einstein, Edison with his light bulb, Steve Jobs onstage introducing Apple’s latest iThing. All have become the icons of innovation and even a bit cliché. Successful small business owners, like innovators, tend towards one or more of five character types. Knowing which one best fits you and which ones you need to add to your cast of characters could move you faster towards your success goals and keep you from making costly mistakes.

Innovation is not just about that golden “ah ha!” moment in front of your bathroom mirror while brushing your teeth or a doodle on a napkin over coffee with a friend. It’s about the nitty-gritty work that comes after the idea: getting it created, accepted, and implemented. Who are these faces and most importantly where do you the small business owner fit in? Thinkers need doers to get things done, and idealists need number crunchers to tether them to reality. All play crucial roles in developing an idea, pushing it through the proper channels, developing a business strategy, and overseeing product development, and market execution. So here are the five personality types of successful business innovators.

Movers and Shakers: With a strong personal drive, these are leaders. A major incentive for this group is the idea of creating a legacy and wielding influence over others. These are the ones who like being in the front, driving projects forward (and maybe promoting themselves in the process), but at the end of the day, they provide the push to get things done. On the flip side, they can be a bit arrogant, and impatient with teamwork.

Creators: Persistent and open to all new things, creators are perhaps the perfect combination for bringing a new idea through the various phases of development and execution. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” is perhaps the best way to describe them. They’re perfectionists and tend to be workaholics, most likely because it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and hard work to push through an idea or initiative that hasn’t yet caught on. They take deep pride in their achievements, but they also enjoy sharing their expertise with others; they’re that intense colleague who feels passionately about what they do and makes everyone else feel guilty for daydreaming during the meeting about what they plan on making for dinner that night. Because they’re so persistent, even in the face of sometimes considerable pushback, they’re crucial to the innovation cycle and tend to be risk-takers.

Star Pupils: Do you remember those kids in grade school who sat up in the front, whose hands were the first in the air anytime the teacher asked a question? Maybe they even shouted out “Ooh! Ooh!” too just to get the teacher to notice them first? This is the segment of the executive population those kids grew into. They’re good at…well, they’re good at everything, really: developing their personal brand, seeking out and cultivating the right mentors, identifying colleagues’ best talents and putting them to their best use. They’re the stem cells of the business world. Somehow, they seem to be able to rise through the ranks and make things happen, even when corporate culture seems stacked against them. Unsurprisingly, successful business owners tend to be Star Pupils..

Controllers: Uncomfortable with risk, Controllers thrive on structure and shy away from more nebulous projects. Above all, they prefer to be in control of their domain and like to have everything in its place. As colleagues, they’re not exactly the team players and networker’s. Controllers are more insular and like to focus on concrete, clear-cut objectives where they know exactly where they stand and can better control everything around them. Controllers thrive on having complete control over all aspects of their sphere. They may be the business owner who has built an entire company around their personality.

Hangers-On: Forget the less-than-flattering name; these business owners exist to bring everyone back down to earth and tether them to reality.. Like Controllers, they don’t embrace unstructured environments, and they tend to take things one step further, hewing to conventional wisdom and tried-and-true processes (e.g.; Microsoft) over the new and untested (e.g. Apple). This is not necessarily a bad set of characteristics to have in someone who has to be the one to remind everyone else of budget limitations and institutional processes.

No one group can be considered the purest “entrepreneurial group,” but Movers and Shakers and Experimenters may be the closest. They have the strongest tendency to be internally driven, in control and bridle the most at others telling them what to do. Younger, more innovative small businesses generally need Movers and Shakers at the top, channeling the energy of Experimenters into a vision that can be implemented. As organizations grow larger and more established, however, they need Star Pupils who can translate that vision into a strategy and lead it forward, Controllers who can marshal the troops to execute it and Hangers-On who can rein it in. A firm reaching maturity has greater need for strong processes, as well as those who value control.

As we’ve seen time and again, unbridled innovation is a wonderful thing. But it’s what comes next that’s arguably more important. To get an innovative idea off the ground, it’s crucial to have a cast of characters who can keep that tension between risk-taking and reality at a healthy balance midway between the sky and the ground — where innovation can thrive.

Please leave your comments or questions below. I do my best to read and respond to each one.

 

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