The path to entrepreneurial success isn’t straightforward. There are sharp turns, detours, switchbacks, and dead ends. Knowing what type of entrepreneur you are can help you stay on track. Your type depends on what motivates you and what kind of energy you have. It’s sort of like picking electives at school based on your natural disposition, goals, and interests.
Generally speaking, there are six types of entrepreneurs. You probably won’t fit neatly into one category, so give some thought to all six and consider which combination of types feels right to you. And remember this is not an exact science; you can always switch gears. These six entrepreneurial types are meant to help you focus on what you want and how to get it.
The Small-Business Entrepreneur
This is the most common type of young entrepreneur, and it’s not hard to understand why: anyone can start a small business. In fact, most businesses are considered small businesses. As of 2019, small businesses (those with 500 or fewer employees) make up a whopping 99.9% of all business in the U.S. and 99.8% of businesses in Florida.*
Most small businesses start as a way for young entrepreneurs to maintain their freedom while earning money doing things they love. The small-business entrepreneur prefers to be their own boss. Employees are usually friends, family, or other members of their immediate community.
Small business entrepreneurs may start their enterprise because they need the money to support themselves or a family. They often start their small businesses to avoid working for someone else and because they want to do something that aligns with their personal interests.
The Startup Entrepreneur
After the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the late 90s/early 00s, startups rose in popularity. Most startups are technology-oriented and focus on filling a gap in business, culture, or some other field.
Startups generally require capital to get started, either through self-funding, investors, or professional venture capitalists.
While young entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to be tech-savvy to become a startup entrepreneur, they at least have a basic understanding of how to market their idea and gain investors. They should also be willing to look at a more long-term business plan, as they will need a little bit more help getting their business off the ground. Once they get going, though, startups are easier to grow and scale-up than small businesses.
The Social Entrepreneur
Very popular with Gen-Z, social entrepreneurs are first and foremost focused on making the world a better place. Money helps them achieve this goal, but they are not in it for big profits. Many previous recipients of a Kantner Foundation Scholarship have at least some degree of social entrepreneurship in their businesses.
As the name suggests, social entrepreneurship is all about helping others. This appeals to those who are drawn to causes such as feeding the homeless or cleaning up local parks. By creating a business around their cause, they help raise awareness and money.
Profit may not be the ultimate goal of this type, but that doesn’t mean social entrepreneurs ignore it entirely. Keeping a business running means re-investing some of the cash they raise into the costs required to stay afloat.
This one is kind of like startup entrepreneurship, but with less focus on tech. Innovative entrepreneurs have tons of ideas for new inventions and services. They are highly motivated and passionate about solving problems.
Innovators’ brains work a mile a minute coming up with ideas. They’ve never met a problem in any field they couldn’t solve. They think big: they may have started out as a small business entrepreneur, but they aren’t satisfied staying that way.
Innovative entrepreneurs also want to make life better and/or easier for people. In that way, they’re not unlike social entrepreneurs. However, they generally don’t focus their entire business on a single cause, and they’re also more profit-oriented than social entrepreneurs.
Despite some negative connotations associated with the term “hustler,” these entrepreneurs are the raw fuel of the business world. Hustlers have more time than other entrepreneurs, they work harder, and they are determined to make it no matter what.
Hustlers are willing to start small because they believe in themselves and in their ability to accomplish their goals. Setbacks mean nothing to hustlers because they have thick skins and know that it’s all part of doing business.
This type of entrepreneur usually combines aspects of the other personalities, but they are more driven, energized, and persistent. Hustlers are dreamers AND doers.
Modelers see something that works and want to make it their own. Or they see a product they know they can produce better.
Modelers have the advantage of already seeing what has worked and what hasn’t and can therefore avoid obvious pitfalls. They travel a road that’s already been paved.
While it’s great to model success, this type of entrepreneur needs to be careful not to copycat. The best thing a modeler can do is to look at what worked in the past, then adapt it to their own strengths. What worked in the past may need a big update or may not be socially acceptable in their community. Yet the basic template still works.
Modelers have the ambition of hustlers and the creativity of innovators.
The type of entrepreneur you are depends on several things: your natural disposition, the culture of your immediate community, any economic needs you have (or want), your goals for the future, and access to resources. As stated above, most of you are probably a combination of two or three of these types.
Start by being honest with yourself. A little introspection can go a long way into helping you figure out your entrepreneurial type. Not everyone has the time or energy to be a hustler, and that’s fine, but maybe you want a hustler on your team. There’s room for everyone at the entrepreneurial table. In fact, it takes all types of entrepreneurship to make the world go ‘round. Whatever your style and goals are, that’s what the world needs.
Once you have some idea of your entrepreneurial style, use that to figure out how to achieve your goals. Your business plan will look differently depending on whether you need to help contribute to the family finances or want to make a huge profit. That’s what these six types are there for: to help guide you along the way to success, whatever that success looks like for you.
Will you be one of the next recipients of a Kantner Foundation college scholarship? If you are a Florida high school entrepreneur, click here to learn more!