Are you an entrepreneur? Knowing your MBTI type could be useful

Posted 22 March 2017 by
John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership, OPP

Are you an entrepreneur? Your answer might depend on what you think the question means. A typical textbook definition of ‘entrepreneur’ might be ‘the founder, owner and manager of a small business’,i but that isn’t necessarily what people think of. When we asked people if they would consider themselves to be an entrepreneur, 40% of the group agree or strongly agree – but only half of these fitted the textbook definition.

MBTI personality type and entrepreneurship

So what’s going on? Well, there seems to be a gap between the image of the competitive, ambitious, maverick entrepreneur and the reality of the sort of person who actually goes on to found and run their own business. Our research found that a need for autonomy was one of the biggest single differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs also tended to see themselves as more creative, impulsive and prepared to take risks, but did not see themselves as any more competitive than others. However, when we looked at the group who considered themselves to be entrepreneurs, but who did not own their own business, this group were, indeed, more competitive. 

It isn’t surprising then that people with some personality preferences are more likely to be entrepreneurs than others:

Explorer and Conserver MBTI and entrepreneurship

But although people’s type preferences mean that some are more likely than others to become entrepreneurs, our research showed that people of every type can and do start their own business – and crucially, there were no personality differences in success (as measured by rising or falling financial indicators). People of any type can be successful as entrepreneurs.

Of course, people of each type will typically have features that will help them to be successful entrepreneurs, and features that might make them less successful. If entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs are aware of these, it can give them a head start. For example, for the Analyst, which is my own leading Core Character:

MBTI personality type Director entrepreneurship

If you have started or are thinking of starting your own business, you can download the guidelines for your Core Character here. You might also find these useful if you are coaching entrepreneurs.

Of course, there are some attributes that will tend to contribute to entrepreneurial success, whatever your type. Across all types in the group, entrepreneurs tended to see some attributes as consistently contributing to success. Some may be skills that can be developed; others may be something that an entrepreneur relies on others to provide. We’ll be talking about this and other aspects of the research in a webcast on 19th April, or download the research paper here.

Entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the world economy;ii the new businesses they create can drive innovation and will often result in the formation of new jobs. Entrepreneurs who know their MBTI type can draw on self-awareness in order to become as successful an entrepreneur as possible.

Zhao, H., Seibert, S. E., & Lunpkin, G. T. (2010). The relationship of personality to entrepreneurial intentions and performance: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Management, 36(2), 381-399. 

ii Kelley, D., Singer, S., & Herrington, M. (2016). Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2015/16 Global Report. GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

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