Perhaps you’ve asked yourself what traits or personalities do successful entrepreneurs possess. Were they merely lucky to be born with one or another personality type, or did they just make the best of what nature had given them, whatever it had been? Let’s look at what pros and cons are tied to different types of temperament in business.
In the most widely used typology, whose foundation had been laid already by Hippocrates, people can be divided into four types based on their “humors”—in the original sense, liquids that, in ancient Greece, were presumed to reside in our bodies and whose imbalance led among other things to different types of temperament in people. This theory was followed up by others and the typology, although no longer associated with the original theory, remains used even today. So let’s have a look at what (dis)advantages the four basic personality types face in entrepreneurship.
Their main advantage is their composure, so that others can’t easily read them. They adapt well to changes and new situations. It’s easy for them to act kind and friendly toward clients or competitors. They also tend to be good in PR, communication and marketing. On the other hand, they may lack the ability to understand others deeply or empathize with other people, including clients or rivals.
These impulsive and active people can easily grow enthusiastic about new things. Cholerics also tend to act quickly on these impulses, which is a great advantage in fields where change is a daily bread and it’s necessary to react quickly to it. However, they are easily thrown off balance and into fits of anger when things aren’t going as they should, which can be harmful in workplace and client relationships. They can achieve extreme performance in their enthusiasm, but also perceive failures more dramatically.
It may seem as though melancholics are quite unsuitable types for starting and running a business. The current commercial environment isn’t very compatible with their pensiveness, disposition to pessimism and solitude. However, they too can be successful in entrepreneurship. Their reliability and stability as both business and relationship partners is appreciated. They are persistent and frequently achieve stable long-term success by their tenacious work.
Their essential positive trait is calmness. What can be disadvantageous is their lower inclination to become enthusiastic about their work and keep the enthusiasm aflame despite initial setbacks. They tend to be meticulous and loyal. But their penchant for reacting to changes with a latency, if at all, can prove problematic.
The two “fast” types—sanguine and choleric—have an advantage in their faster tempo, the “calm” characters rather in their thoughtful approach to conflict situations. This is reflected in the initial growth of the business: it can be fast and followed by a time of uncertainty whether the invested funds and work would ever return, and on the other hand, it can grow slowly if steadily due to hesitation—sometimes unwarranted—before each vital step.
People often think that some personality types are just unsuitable for entrepreneurship—but that is simply not true. It’s rather a question of adapting our work to our personality, so that we can best use our positive traits and conceal the negative ones. No one is born with a recipe for success.