Gary Bizzo: 6 Types of Founders — Are You an Innovator or a Hustler?

Gary C. Bizzo  |

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There are as many reasons for starting a company as there are stars in the sky. I’ve mentored hundreds of people, young and old, who simply wanted to start a business and be their own boss.

While startups tend to be started and run by twenty-something entrepreneurs, it’s not necessarily just for young peopleright out of school. A startup founder can be the man tired of working 14 hours a day by himself in a dead-end job with no respite. It’s the woman who came to my office telling me she had six different businesses opened and closed within seven years but knew all she needed was the right help. That "can’t give up" attitude will eventually win over.

I’ve seen a 65-year-old baby boomer wanting to supplement a meager pension who had an "idea." He won’t necessarily create your typical startup in current terms, but he will be an entrepreneur working for himself on his own future. How about the 50-year-old man who has ulcers because of his 30-year-old bully for a boss? Or the single mother who had that great arts and crafts idea for kids that only a creative mother could conjure up?

I’ve had a client who loved people who always wanted to open a coffee shop, but had that nagging doubt startup founders get. Another client, who hated people but thought a coffee shop was a moneymaker, followed her. Another client was a young woman with lofty ideas, who wanted to start an airline - she did! Some succeed but many are left at the curb with little to show but debt.

What type of person succeeds in a startup? I guess it depends on your idea of success, but there are specific types who get in the news, make millions and drive the dream of success for the rest of us.

If you analyze those we look up to like Gates, Jobs, Oprah or Musk, a personality profile or pattern develops that helps you understand why these founders are so successful.

- The Innovator

- The Leader

- The Driver

- The User Entrepreneur

- The Accidental Entrepreneur

- The Hustler

Princeton Professors Kuenne and Danner posit in their book, Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017) that “the personality of the leader or founder is the driving force in building any new business." It is probably an obvious statement but some founders would surprise you.

The Innovators are most likely going to be running that new disruptive hi tech company in Silicon Valley. They are somewhat unconventional visionaries, but being so enables them to see things in a slightly different way from the rest of us. The co-founder of Google, Larry Page, was called the Innovator in Chief by the New York Times. In 2019, Page was number 10 on the list of World’s Billionaires. I guess you could put him in the same league as Jeff Bezos for innovation because there is nothing bigger than the largest search engine or the largest shopping platform. These confident entrepreneurs run enterprises that by all accounts are both well run and (mostly) a great place to work.

The Leader founder has also been referred to as the Captain by others. The concept of running a business as a team may sound egalitarian but it is often fraught with issues. It’s the "we" not "me" scenario often including management by consensus. Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba, is this type of entrepreneur. The leader must be decisive when needed and able to empower people under him. It takes a strong leader to give away power while controlling the big picture. I have seen businesses flounder with consensus management.

Drivers tend to make the world go round faster and lead us off to far away lands. Take Elon Musk, a genius maybe, successful yes, but a good businessman? I don’t think so. This type of founder is impatient and demanding. They tend to look for perfection in others that they believe they have. Their intensity and need to over control things makes it tough for an employee to follow. From some of Musk’s recent behavior, it's clear that this genius can show signs of fracture when things don’t go his way. However, they still make billions – hmm!

I love the User Entrepreneur. According to The Kauffman Foundation, 46.6 percent of startups launched in the U.S. that are still in business after five years are founded by “user entrepreneurs.” These founders see a problem that they have encountered and fix it, as simple as that. Sara Blakeley is the poster person for this type with Spanx. She famously said, “I shopped for body shapers for the first time in my life and I was horrified. They were thick – it was like wearing workout clothes and they all had a leg band on one side that showed through the pants.” There had to be a better way, and she found it!

Some say Facebook’s Zuckerberg is a user entrepreneur because he tried to develop the friend app in college to meet girls. He may be more of an opportunist if you believe what you see in the movies. Come to think about it, Steve Jobs saw an IBM computer that gave him the vision to create the Macintosh. There are lots of anecdotes about people hating the way things are done and "fixing" them like the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wipers or the BIC pen company to replace fountain pens.

The Accidental Entrepreneur seems to found a company because he or she thought it was needed by society or maybe the entrepreneur could do it better than others. Jessica Alba started the Honest Company that proposed ethical consumerism. There are a few vulnerabilities that have become apparent recently, but the company still thrives with a great message. Some refer to this type of founder as the crusader complex. The unassuming yet powerful founder of Greenpeace, Paul Watson, fits the mold. Although Greenpeace is a non-profit, this type of guy could have started a breakfast cereal company and people would have followed him.

Then there are, as in every industry from time immemorial, the Hustlers. I know there are many examples of modern day hustlers but going back a few years, Sam Walton of Walmart comes to mind as well as Warren Buffett sitting on $112 billion at Berkshire Hathaway. You don’t become the "Oracle" or "Sage" of Omaha without grit and sacrifice.

My friend, Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”, is another hustler. He’s made a fortune and a huge publishing career based on this one classic book.

Just when you think there is no way a company can introduce a better mousetrap, one comes to market. It goes to show that innovation is definitely tied to the founder and his or her personality, but so much more goes into making any business successful — sometimes in spite of personalities!

Gary is CEO of Bizzo Management Group Inc. and Bizzo Integrated Marketing Corp. in Vancouver. London-based Richtopia placed Bizzo on the Top 100 Global Influencers in the World for 2018. He is an Adjunct Professor of Integrated Marketing & Consumer Behavior at the New York Institute of Technology, MBA School of Management (Vancouver Campus).

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Equities Contributor: Gary Bizzo

Source: Equities News

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer. The author of this article, or a firm that employs the author, is a holder of the following securities mentioned in this article : none

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