In theory, entrepreneurs are risk-takers. But is that true? It’s true that businesses can accelerate profits by choosing calculated risks. But if that happens, that makes the business a risk-taker, not necessarily its owner.
Do you remember back to when you made the leap from an employee to a business owner? You took many steps to mitigate risks. Lined up lots of work, maybe a longer-term whale client or two, and saved up enough to live on for a while. That’s the (solid) advice from authorities like Alan Weiss.
Bill Gates took almost no risks when he started Microsoft. He didn’t even have a career to jeopardize. Yes, he dropped out of college but it would have been easy to resume his studies. If the idea of “Micro-Soft” had occurred to him after he’d graduated and landed a secure, high-paying job, Microsoft might not exist.
That’s because like many entrepreneurs, Bill Gates is risk-averse. How do I know this? Well, I don’t really, but Crystal does. Crystal evaluates LinkedIn profiles (and resumes, they say) against 4 well-known personality tests: DiSC, Enneagram, Strengths Finder, and Meyers-Briggs (or their variant of it).
The verdict: Bill is extremely risk-averse – and, naturally, even more skeptical.
In fact, according to Crystal’s DiSC assessment of Bill Gates, his archetype is a hybrid of “Skeptical” and “Analyst”.
Sidebar: An Analyst is probably exactly the type of person who’d be effective at creating a national policy for responding to the COVID pandemic: “
Bill tends to be an objective thinker who prioritizes accuracy and results. He will likely pay attention to small details and take a systematic approach to solving problems.”
Looking at the DiSC array of personality types, you’d think high-profile entrepreneurs would be “Captains” or “Drivers”. And many are. But while most CEO’s of large organizations fit this type, they run the gamut. And that’s even more true for independent, innovation-based businesses like yours.
I know that CEOs of large orgs run the DiSC gamut because I used Crystal to profile about 30 of them for an ABM-style B2B marketing campaign. For each personality type, there’s a preferred method of communication. Some people are phobic of enthusiasm; others soak it in like a sun-basking chihuahua. Some people appreciate brevity and the omissions of niceties and greetings; others find it unpardonably rude.
And that’s the point, really, where our marketing is concerned, where we’re trying to figure out how to talk to people.
Some Bills prefer:
Quick note to...
While others prefer:
I hope you are well, I'd like to...
And still others:
Great idea for you...
I’m not saying you need to run personality profiles on Crystal, although I’d try it at least once in your prospecting. I am not even saying it matters that much whether you omit greetings. But it matters when it comes to choosing what ideas to put in front of your ideal customers – and how to present them. Do you offer a dry case study with lots of data or do you tell your story?
For most, it’s probably the latter, actually. Even “Drivers” like stories. Harvard professor and Obama advisor Marshall Ganz frames your business-relevant story as, “the story of self”.
On the other hand, you might object, just be yourself. But the story is a story, not a rant or an emotions dump. In marketing, we are putting on a show, to a certain extent, to bring our business to life. How you might feel right now isn’t part of the plot.
Don’t be yourself in your marketing, save that for your close friends and family. Be the leading act for your business and talk to people they want to be talked to.
Footnotes & Errata
- In Million Dollar Consulting (the only book of Alan Weiss’s you really need to read), the strategy is to save up enough to live on for a year so you have the leverage to turn down prospects who aren’t an ideal fit; of course, he also assumes you have a prestigious MBA and have worked in investment bank of Big 5 consulting. If that’s not you, you might need to demonstrate your expertise in your content marketing ↩
- Dozens of personality tests have been invented, dating back to 1919 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_test#Examples. Crystal has also created one – a variant of the Clifton Strength assessment, including a “Values” test ↩
- For Ganz, a story of self is a personal story that shows why you were called to what you have been called to. https://workingnarratives.org/article/public-narrative/ ↩