Book Excerpt: The Entrepreneur Next Door: Discover the Secrets to Financial Independence

By Bill Wagner
Entrepreneur Press; 2006
Chapter 1

America is in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution. Every 45 seconds, a new business is born. Tragically, two out of three perish before their third birthdays. Yet, despite this stark reality, half the U.S. population entertains the idea of self-employment; 700,000 Americans take the leap every year. Today, there are more than 16 million small businesses operating within the United States.

Through extensive research and testing, my wife, Renee, and I, cofounders of Accord Management Systems Inc., now know how and why some entrepreneurs become multimillionaires, others do moderately well, some barely survive and most don’t. The Entrepreneur Next Door describes the natural entrepreneurial personality types (born leaders), the corporate leaders often referred to as intrapreneurs, and those who would like to be in business but have not had the opportunity, the wherewithal, or perhaps the inclination. I will refer to this last group as “wantapreneurs.” Wantapreneurs are often successful business owners but not necessarily founders or born leaders. They are able to leverage their strengths and compensate for their limitations.

You’ll also find out what happens when entrepreneurs become their own worst enemies. Most entrepreneurs don’t achieve the level of success, financial or otherwise, that they dream or scheme about, and not surprisingly, these entrepreneurs have some personality traits in common. This book discusses the pitfalls and potential land mines that go hand in hand with the various entrepreneurial personalities and offers insights for solving these challenges.

For example, consider some very successful, and very different entrepreneurs:

  • Bill Gates of Microsoft displayed the big-picture thinking necessary for success even though he may have initially lacked the education or experience to accomplish his goals.
  • Conrad Hilton knew little of the lodging and service industry when he decided to build his first hotel. He had unwavering determination, self-confidence, and a strong belief in himself.
  • Wayne Huizenga of Waste Management and Blockbuster Video fame seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to starting companies. His string of successes has spanned the trash-removal business, video rental, music sales, professional sports, and most recently, automobile sales.
  • Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines solidified his initial idea by writing it on a napkin. For 30-plus years his company has maintained profitability.

These examples are simply a few who made the headlines. There are millions of other successful business leaders and owners that have several things in common: an entrepreneurial or wantapreneurial personality and enough self-awareness to choose or manage a compatible business and hire those who possess the traits to maximize business growth and success.

The American marketplace abounds with more opportunities than ever. Potential entrepreneurs have a broad spectrum of options to choose from. They can become founders of their own enterprises, buy franchises or distributorships, buy existing businesses, or create their own brands of products or services. Success on each of these entrepreneurial paths requires a slightly different personality, and matching the personality to the opportunity increases the chances of success.

Because of the uncertain economy, lack of corporate security, economic layoffs, and downsizing, the motivation for people to go into their own businesses is greater than ever. Even with the current employment climate, people have greater motivation and sometimes greater flexibility to move among jobs. The abundance of possible business ventures makes the dream of owning a business attainable for more people.

Nevertheless, even with the entrepreneurial revolution in full swing, there’s a critical shortage of insight into the mind and personality of an entrepreneur. America’s television stations, bookstores, radio stations, and newsstands are filled with innumerable “experts” offering basically the same sound-bite information about what entrepreneurship is and how one can succeed as an entrepreneur.

Unfortunately, the commonly accepted plan for entrepreneurial success works primarily for people who possess an entrepreneurial or a leader personality. The experts profess a singular solution that works best with that singular personality. That’s great if you happen to be among the small percentage of the population that has an innate leadership personality, but if you don’t, the chance that those how-to-succeed-in-business books will work for you is minuscule at best.

The Greatest Knowledge Is Self-Knowledge

The most important factors that divide entrepreneurs who barely make it from those who make millions are personality and, sometimes more importantly, the awareness to harness it, use it, and learn from it. The most successful entrepreneurs know that the greatest knowledge is self-knowledge. They’re not necessarily blessed with a higher intellect or more charisma than others, but they understand how to make the best of their talents and how to manage or compensate for their weaknesses, what is called developmental considerations or potential limitations.

The Entrepreneur Next Door offers an in-depth character study of the seven archetypes that move and shake our world. Our research shows that most entrepreneurs who reach and surpass their lofty goals are natural leaders, strong problem solvers, and work well under pressure. But we’ve also learned that people who don’t have these innate abilities can become very successful if they choose the right businesses for their personality types and surround themselves with the right people in the right positions. This is a major point.

Through research data, survey results, true stories, and hypothetical scenarios, you will discover how every personality type can grow a lucrative business. The information in this book, coupled with the results of the behavioral assessments provided, will give you priceless insights into your own personality and heighten your self-awareness. You’ll find out what makes each of the seven personality types tick and what business might be best suited to your type. The behavioral assessment we used to determine the personalities of our 1,500-plus entrepreneurs was provided by The McQuaig System™ of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

We discovered that people with natural entrepreneurial personalities have a high level of dominance, are independent self-starters, and believe in themselves and their abilities. They don’t depend on the opinions of others and often believe that others don’t understand them or what they’re trying to achieve. People with wantapreneurial personalities are more accepting, accommodating, and agreeable, tend to be more compliant, want to do things the right way, are more relaxed, and sometimes have higher sociability than those with classic entrepreneurial personalities.

Winter 2007

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the bottom line

Successful entrepreneurs share a number of common personality traits, and these traits are the predominant indicators of their success, outweighing education, family ties, skills, and experience.

The most commonly accepted plan for entrepreneurial success only works for a small percentage of the population, those that have a natural (Tier I) leadership personality.

People who choose business ventures and jobs that are in sync with their true personalities tend to experience the greatest level of success and fulfillment.

Every personality type has the potential to grow a successful business.

The Five-Tier Pyramid (Personality, Job Behaviors, Actions, Metrics, and Results) represents a proven cognitive approach to success.

The ability to modify or mitigate personality depends on the strength of each innate personality factor and the degree of change a person wants to make.

If you have the right personality to do a particular job, your chances of success are five times greater than if you do not.

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