Innate preferences mean that some personality types are more likely than others to start their own business. Last week, we looked at NT (Rationals) and NF (Idealists), the types most likely to leap into entrepreneurship, and discovered the types of businesses in which they might excel.
This week, we’re shining the spotlight on Artisan (SP) and Guardian (SJ) temperaments. As a general rule, these types have a lower orientation for the type of risk-taking, impulsivity and autonomy associated with the “founder’s brain,” and are more adept at working within established structures than going it alone. This doesn’t mean that Guardians and Artisans do not start their own businesses – they just do it in a different way.
I know generalities can be dangerous. I want to reassure you that people of every type can and do make the leap into business ownership – fear not, SJs! The trick is figuring out the traits that will help you to be a successful business founder, and traits that might make you less successful. If would-be entrepreneurs are aware of these, it can give them a head start.
Now I have that off my chest, let’s take a look at the types of business that a savvy Artisan or Guardian might start.
Charming, driven and popular, ESFPs generally succeed in any business where their outgoing nature is allowed to shine. Public relations, travel and real estate agency – any type of agency, in fact – suit you well, as what you’re essentially selling is yourself. It’s important that you don’t choose a desk-based business. Owning a restaurant or an entertainment business (event planning; children’s entertainer) would be far more interesting to you than sitting behind a computer developing code.
Talking of boredom, it really is your Achilles heel. You’ll need to learn some discipline if you are to succeed in business. Since you may find it hard to focus on two things at once, consider quitting the day job and plunging head-first into your new venture. When an ESFP is bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and gets the right systems in place, they tend to go all-in and become serial business founders. Look at Richard Branson!
The ISFP is perhaps the best type at taking an established system and turning it into a profit, so look for opportunities in franchising or distributorship. You’re good with people but not so great with unpredictability, so the right business is working directly with customers in areas of very little risk. An ISFP starting up a dance, theater or performing arts company, photography business or something else with a creative bent may also end up happy and successful, since you really like the aesthetics and customer service aspects of the job.
On the downside, the idea of chasing invoices, keeping track of taxes and insurance, and “doing the books” can be overwhelming to you. Besides franchising, you might consider buying a business from someone else which already has these processes in place. It’s also a good idea to create your business around something you are familiar with. You learn best by experience, and using the skills you already have will help to reduce the learning curve.
ISTPs are quiet, “doing” people who have a very hands on and down-to-earth approach to life. This means you’re good at rolling up your sleeves and getting on with things! Plumbing and electrics, automotive repair, physical therapy, painting, roofing, landscape gardening, computer repair, website design, and hosting gym classes for kids/adults are great small business ideas for you. Basically, you’ll enjoy anything that involves working with your hands.
If possible, work for a business owner doing something practical you enjoy, figure out how the business is run, and then start a business yourself. It’s important you build your venture around something you’re good at and are accustomed to doing yourself. In other words, don’t try to learn the complexities of a new product, industry or service sector – you’ll get frustrated with the amount of book learning you’ll have to do.
ESTPs have tons of street smarts. You’re very good at taking a seemingly complicated situation and making it straightforward for the customer and there’s a real place for this in the business world. You are going to be happiest working both hands-on and directly with people. This means that the same types of jobs that suit an ISTP will also suit you well; more extraverted options include marketing, distribution and anything with a heavy focus on sales.
Unlike the ISTP, you thrive on competition and risk-taking, so look for opportunities you can scale. For example, you might start out as a one-man roofing contractor, but there are options for hiring laborers, marketing like a demon, and dominating your own corner of the market. Sales targets and monetary incentives were designed for you, so don’t be afraid to dream big.
Efficiency is your middle name, ESTJ. You live by clear rules and structures and making sure that people follow the correct procedures. These traits mean that you excel in a number of professions from sales and marketing to finance, real estate and business management. You enjoy working with people and achieving goals despite obstacles, and you can deal well with customers. These skills mean you’ll be great at growing a business.
As to what type of business you should start, think about working your way up in a company and gaining experience as a decision-maker in your chosen field. From there, you’ll make your escape by setting up as a consultant/advisor in the same sector. That way, there’s an existing structure in place to create your new business – it isn’t in your nature to pluck something out of thin air. Another option is to consider buying a franchise – you’ll be able to follow (and enforce) a clear set of processes that have been proven to work, so you won’t get stressed trying to follow a new and unvetted solution.
ISTJs like serious work where experience and authority are respected such as law, accountancy, architecture and medicine. You’ll likely thrive in these professions and may not be as inclined as others towards starting up on your own. In fact, ISTJs rarely will take the plunge into business ownership unless it embraces their current level of expertise.
Many ISTJs become “accidental” entrepreneurs, because they may end up buying an ongoing operation that was simply too good an opportunity, and too safe a bet, for the risk-averse ISTJ to miss. Franchising businesses are also worth looking at because they come with an established business model and brand name. Franchises give you independence with guidance, which is exactly what you need.
Specific business ideas can be anything from a vehicle repair company to your own accountancy or law firm – anything that builds around an existing trade or skill. You might want to partner up with an Intuitive type who can help you to prospect, network and figure out what people want and how you’re going to sell it to them.
You were born to socialize and take care of others so whatever business you choose, make sure it focuses on doing nice things for people. Consulting, real estate, interior design, corporate training, wedding planning – any type of customer service-oriented agency suits the ESFJ well, since this allows you to use your personal influence to grow your profits. The main point is that it’s low risk, and directly and visibly affects people's lives.
Branching out on your own can be fairly scary for you, and you’ll do better if you have a consistent client base already in place. You’ll need to be sure there’s as little risk as possible before starting up a business. A good path is to work within a company until you are ready to start your own, then you can take all your contacts with you. Think about building up some steady work and clients in your spare time while holding down your day job. You’ll need to know that your business idea has legs before you go all in.
ISFJs make great employees, loyal and caring, and don’t feel compelled to start a business very often. When you do, you do it very slowly and with a lot of planning! Of all the types, you are the one most likely to slowly phase out of your day job while putting more and more time into the business. That way, you’ll already have a bit of security in place before you fully lift your feet off the ground.
As to the type of business you’ll be running, it definitely will be helping others in some way. A boutique bakery, coffee shop or clothing store works well, since these are service-oriented businesses where your hard work and attention to detail should be noticed and appreciated. Other options include child day care, adult home care, event planning, teaching/tutoring and physical therapy.
Putting It All Together
Personality isn’t good for identifying entrepreneurs since everyone can start a business if they put their minds to it. But it can be good at predicting the types of businesses you’ll be passionate about giving your heart and soul to.
What I hope this article shows, is that you don’t have to be an NT/NF-type to be an effective business founder. As long as you choose a business that is well-suited to your personality, you can leverage your strengths, work to improve your weaknesses and excel in the type business in which you were born to thrive in.