Guest Post from Ja-Naé Duane and Steven Fisher. Authors of The Startup Equation

Have laptop and Starbucks app, will travel. That’s been our motto on many a freelance excursion. Of course, not every gig is worth it, and we’re not talking money. We’re talking chemistry. Some clients are a great fit, some are atrocious to deal with. You’ve got talent. You’ve got a portfolio. Don’t just work for the highest bidder. You’re more than a freelancer for hire. You’re an enterprise of one, an entrepreneur on the front lines of our new economy. You owe it to yourself to choose wisely when it comes to clients; to ensure you have a solid connection before you take the next freelance project on.

Finding good clients requires a little introspection. You’ve got to know yourself, who you are as an entrepreneurial provider of freelance services. To get an idea of what we’re talking about, just look at Stephen Colbert. Last fall, he took over as host of “The Late Show” on CBS. He announced that he’d drop the character he’d portrayed on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” and just be himself. So who was the real Colbert? Unsure, Colbert took the Myers-Briggs personality test. Turns out he has a lot in common with Fox Mulder from the TV show “The X-Files.”

As Mom used to say, we’re all unique, like a bunch of different snowflakes. But personality matters, and successful entrepreneurs understand who they are and what brings them happiness. When we wrote The Startup Equation, we knew we had to answer the question: where does personality fit in the entrepreneurial life?

9 Personality Types, 1 Billion Entrepreneurs

By 2020, we’ll see one billion entrepreneurs around the world. Many of them will be freelancers. Contracting out to experts is becoming more and more attractive to companies throughout the economy. Among that billion entrepreneurs, we’ll see a mix of nine distinct personality types. We talked to entrepreneurs around the globe. After sifting through it all, here’s what we found:

  • Perfectionist: leads by example and prefers doing over feeling
  • Giver: takes identity from helpful authority and strives for respect
  • Performer: captain of the winning team who values self-survival
  • Romantic: competes in emotionally intense lines of work
  • Observer: emotionally controlled and effective decision makers
  • Trooper: the faithful and courageous skeptic
  • Epicure: seeks stimulation and diffuses fear
  • Boss: lusts for life and assumes leadership
  • Mediator: relaxes friction and keeps the peace

Most entrepreneurs usually identify with one of these options as a primary type and another as a secondary personality. For example, Steve Jobs was a Boss with an underpinning of the Perfectionist. Kanye West is a Romantic with an underpinning of the Epicure. It’s important to remember that every entrepreneur is an individual snowflake. But even though no two are the same, the entrepreneurs who succeed come from these archetypes.

Personality Drives Approach

Once you understand your personality, it’s time to consider the seven different approaches to launching and running a business. And make no mistake, as freelancers we are all micro businesses.

  • Essentialist: starts a company out of necessity
  • Do Gooder: wants to make a big social impact
  • Expert: the most informed members of a field who want to build their own thing
  • Artist: obsessed with creating
  • Franchisee: uncomfortable with risk, likes the idea of making more money
  • Builder: stereotypical entrepreneurs who are the most likely to launch a business
  • Lifestylist: loves the freedom of running their own business

Personality and Approach are both part of the Foundation function in the Startup Equation. Just remember that Personality is a constant and Approach is a variable. Your approach can change, but you may need to adapt your plans to accommodate your personality. For example, Kanye West launched his music career with the Essentialist approach. He later built a fashion empire using a Lifestylist approach. Lately he’s been talking about running for president, something that sounds like a Do-Gooder approach. (Of course, he’s currently $53 million in debt, so the man is clearly approaches life as an Artist).

To help you understand what will work best for you, we include a step-by-step process in The Startup Equation to identify your entrepreneurial personality. We then walk you through it to choose the approach that best fits you. All told, there are more than 61 combinations of personality and approach. At every phase of establishing and growing yourself as a Business of One, know that the combination may need to change. But choose the right combination, and you can launch yourself into the stratosphere.

You have the power to drive a company’s success. Your writing, developing, social media management, strategic thinking, or graphic design can help a company crush its competition.

So take the time now to understand who you are as an freelancers. The more you know about yourself now, the greater the odds that you’ll choose the right clients.


About the Authors

Steve and Ja-NaeJa-Naé Duane and Steven Fisher are both serial entrepreneurs who know how hard it is just to startup a business, yet alone the right one for who you are as an entrepreneur.

Both Ja-Naé and Steven have experienced the entrepreneurial highs of success along with the lows of failure. They have a unified passion to help make sure you don’t make the same mistakes they did.

The Startup Equation distills their vast experiences down to what works and why.