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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Types of entrepreneurs I have met

Inspired by this story about how a cashier has written a book on her perspectives of the shoppers she serves, I decided to tell my perspective of the type of entrepreneurs I have met. As part of my job, I have met hundreds of entrepreneurs in Singapore and they are a mixed bunch. I thought it would be interesting to pick out a few categories and talk about them.

The Know-It-All
Hands down, the most irritating of the bunch. They assumed they know everything, even in the face of strong evidence. What are their characteristics? They counter every point you made, they interupt you even before you finish, their arguments are illogical, they are too absorbed in their views etc. When I encounter such people, I count that day as an unlucky one. Fortunately, they are not many of them around.

The Clueless
These types come in without knowing anything. They don't know their potential users, they don't understand the market, they seldom talk to real people. In order words, they live in their worlds. Unlike the first group however, they are open to listening. What I usually advise them is to be real. Get out of their heads and start talking to potential users. Gather real feedback rather than imagining everything in their minds.

The Money Minded
Everything is about $$ to these guys. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but you get the feeling you will not see anything special coming out from them. They might able to survive. Heck, they might even be doing well. However, they will not be the ones that create new markets or the next big thing. Those things are reserved for people who put value creation and their passionate ahead of money.

The Passionate
You can't help but to be touched by their passions. They may not have the most complete plans but they are willing to work at it and listen to all views. These types are typically a joy to work with. The only exception is when they are passionate about the wrong things. That is when they might become type one.

The Inspirational
They are the highlights of my job. Talking to them is like taking a live lesson. You get to hear deep insights about the markets they serve, the experimental models they are playing with, the lessons they have learned etc. They are what makes this job worth it. Every session with one of these type expands my horizon. You can't get better lessons than these.