Work

February 8, 2019

Why Some Entrepreneurs Struggle With ‘Monogamy’

By Katie Moritz

Entrepreneurs tend to have a problem with a wandering eye.

No, no, it’s not what you think. If you’re dating a small business owner, you don’t need to be worried about the sanctity of your relationship.

But if a business could get worried, it would be shaking in its boots.

Credit: Adobe
With so many exciting ideas to develop, it can be hard for intuitive entrepreneurs to stay focused on just one.

That’s because a lot of entrepreneurs have a tendency to bounce from one opportunity to another. They’re attracted to the new and exciting, the uncharted territory. They’re stoked to launch a project, but once it becomes a routine, they’re looking around for something new.

If you feel singled out right now, you are likely one of two types of problem-solvers. Research by Keith Brigham, professor of entrepreneurship at Texas Tech University, Ritch Sorenson, Opus Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas and James Hoffman, dean of the College of Business at New Mexico State University, suggests that the tendency to be enticed by new opportunities is shared by intuitive entrepreneurs, rather than analytical ones.

“Extremely intuitive entrepreneurs, who tend to go with their gut in making decisions, also tend to be better at starting ventures than maintaining them,” the researchers wrote for FamilyBusiness.org.

“Analytical types, who are comfortable making a move only when the numbers confirm it’s the right thing to do, tend to stay put because they feel more secure with the management structures and metrics that their maturing business needs.”

Think about the way you think

The researchers looked at 280 entrepreneur-run businesses and found that most entrepreneurs skew intuitive. The most intuitive ones “had started several businesses or, in the most extreme cases, were running two or more businesses at the same time,” they wrote.

But the good news for analytical folks is that new businesses need both types of thinkers to survive, Brigham said. So, there’s not a “good” or “bad” way to be an entrepreneur. Analytical entrepreneurs can shine especially once a business is up and running.

“After a business is launched, the analytical types are better at managing it, making it more efficient and planning for the future,” Brigham said in an article about the research.

“You need to recognize your style and make sure you are in the right place.”

It can be hard to tell what kind of thinker you are, especially since, as psychology professor David Ludden pointed out in Psychology Today, the traits aren’t mutually exclusive. If you’re not sure what your dominant problem-solving style is, you can take the quiz here and analyze your results here.

Stack your deck

While there’s no right or wrong way to think or launch a business, you need to get people on board whose problem-solving styles complement your own.

“If you are building a team, strive for cognitive diversity,” Brigham said.

“That means if you are an extreme intuitive thinker, you may need more help from accountants and attorneys as your business grows. If your style is more analytical, hire more visionaries.”

Oftentimes, thinking styles aren’t taken into consideration when a new business is launched. That can lead to issues down the road.

“Entrepreneurship is a lot like dating,” Brigham said. “The entrepreneur and the investor love the newness and novelty and often have blinders on.

“But if you look at startups, about half of them fail – just like nearly half of all marriages. That’s because the need for day-to-day management eventually kicks in and it doesn’t fit with the founder’s intuitive thinking style, which craves novelty rather than systems.”

This article is part of America’s Entrepreneurs: Making it Work, a Rewire initiative made possible by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and EIX, the Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange.

Katie Moritz is Rewire’s senior editor and a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for a newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to balmy Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she works on this here website. Reach her via email at kmoritz@rewire.org. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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