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Are You Unlocking Your Entrepreneurial Style?
The following extract is from Unprepared to Entrepreneur.
It took me a few months to appreciate my entrepreneurial style. This style, flair and pizazz were new and uncomfortable. I didn’t know what kind of entrepreneur I was, I wasn’t prepared for the logistics and, well, my business model was far from being complete. For many founders, the business model evolves as they grow. Establishing your entrepreneurial style is key to keeping your business innovative – otherwise, you can lose your passion, drive and style.
Initially, when I decided to create the Like Minded Females Network, I teamed up with a friend and envisioned a global not-for-profit model that focused on reducing inequalities faced by women and marginalized communities in tech, digital and entrepreneurship. Our key themes included positive change, social good and social mobility.
In 2019, I decided to leave the toxic corporate world and build this dream life. After 12 months of transitioning from just a thought, to a passion project, to a side hustle, to the dream life I had envisioned for myself, I thought I would be happy and fulfilled. Turns out, I was bored and frustrated by month three.
But why? I started to chase the money and base each decision on finances. The idea wasn’t a pyramid scheme in the making, and it also wasn’t a business that could sustain its growth. Within three months of becoming an ‘entrepreneur’, I had shifted my focus to money. In all the books I have read and podcasts I’ve listened to, I couldn’t find anything that spoke about losing your passion so early on. I remember feeling lost and entertaining the thought of shutting down.
A stroke of luck arrived in the form of a UK-based business accelerator course for ‘social impact’ companies. They offered me a spot. It was the first time I had heard of such a thing. I walked in on day one as a limited company and left the same day as a community interest company (CIC). It took me eight hours of hard work and no technology to return to the core objectives of the business.
I re-identified my entrepreneurial style: a combination of a hustler and social entrepreneur. Once I was able to define my entrepreneurial style and the business model’s direction, the other business areas became more precise, relevant and easier to navigate.
Styles of entrepreneurship
There are five styles of entrepreneurship we should consider:
An innovative entrepreneur is someone who is continually coming up with new ideas and inventions. They often aim to change the way people think or live. These people are motivated, passionate and obsessive. The thing that makes innovators stand out is the originality of their ideas.
A hustler entrepreneur is continuously working towards the bigger picture. They often start small and work hard to solve problems with their own resources rather than raising capital, and pool resources in creative ways to meet their needs. More often than not, what drives their ambitions is a lack of something.
A social entrepreneur is someone who wants to solve social problems with their products or services. Their goal is to drive positive change in the world rather than achieve big profits or wealth. These entrepreneurs tend to start not-for-profit organizations or charitable companies and dedicate themselves to social good.
An imitator entrepreneur uses existing business ideas and aims to improve them. Their purpose is to make sure products and services are better and more profitable. This entrepreneur is a combination of innovator and hustler. They are ultimately solving problems with a prototype that already exists. Imitators are self-confident, determined and learn from others’ mistakes.
An intrapreneur fosters an entrepreneur’s characteristics for a large-scale organization to create and lead improvements to increase profitability. This person has the security of a salary, the backing of an established brand and the freedom to innovate services or products. Gifford Pinchot coined the term intrapreneurship in 1973. In his 2017 blog, he shares four more ways to define an intrapreneur: ‘employees who do for corporate innovation what an entrepreneur does for their startup; dreamers that do; drivers of change for good and self-appointed general managers of new ideas’. This entrepreneurship style is essential to highlight. It’s a viable alternative to independent entrepreneurship, especially if you conclude that you aren’t ready to build your own business after reading this book.
These five types are not rigid – there is no right or wrong route to entrepreneurship. However, it’s important to allow yourself to think creatively while building your business.