The Entrepreneurial Dichotomy
by Julie Weishaar
May 28, 2024
The Entrepreneurial Dichotomy

Stereotyping might be considered unfair in some cases, and sometimes it is, especially regarding entrepreneurs.

You cannot assume any one individual type is a certain way.

Don’t assume that just because someone belongs to a group known to have specific stereotypical characteristics, they are all the same.

Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

Instead, there is often a common characteristic that usually defines a specific group of people. The operative word is “usually.”

There are always exceptions. Entrepreneurs tend to share common personality attributes that are often double-edged swords.

It is important to distinguish between entrepreneurs and those who are self-employed.

The entrepreneur wants to grow companies. The self-employed wish to earn their income working for themselves.

Not all small business owners are entrepreneurs. But, all entrepreneurs start out being small business owners.

Below are some common characteristics of entrepreneurs. I have included some explanations of how one attribute can be both positive and negative at the same time.

Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs Have a Strong Sense of Urgency

Entrepreneurs thrive on activity. They are enthusiastic about developing and implementing their ideas. They are creative.

But, they can also be impatient, intolerant, tense, and uneasy when others do not share the same sense of urgency.

Or if others do not respond as quickly as the entrepreneur wants.

High Level of Intelligence

Entrepreneurs are incredibly knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. They must be able to run their business successfully.

However, this high level of intelligence sometimes does not correlate with other important aspects of running a successful business.

For example, many entrepreneurs lack effective communication skills, resulting in poor customer service.

Entrepreneurs are Autonomous

Many entrepreneurs do not function well in structured organizations.

They don’t like to be constrained by strict company-specific rules and regulations.

Protocol, in particular, involves answering to an authority figure other than themselves.

Most believe they can do the job better than anyone else. They have a strong need to do things their own way.

And with the freedom to choose and act according to their own criteria.

They are often creative geniuses who have unique and innovative ideas.

However, they cannot always communicate these ideas clearly so that anyone can execute them effectively.

Entrepreneurs know exactly what they want. They can become extremely intolerant and impatient if their employees cannot read their minds.

Self Confidence

Entrepreneurs are self-confident. They must be to think they can make it in the business world.

However, there could be negative consequences when that self-confidence steps over the boundary into arrogance.

Arrogant people do not consider anyone else’s ideas valuable because they know best.

They are challenging to work with and inflexible because it is their way or the highway.

Entrepreneurs must be their own biggest fan. This is because they often work alone or with a small group. Self-confidence can be a triple-edged sword.

Interpersonal Relationship Issues

“Work—work—work” is the mantra of entrepreneurs. They are overachievers who never find enough hours in the day to get their work done.

Their strong work ethic frequently interferes with their personal relationships and their interpersonal skills.

Entrepreneurs are single-minded about their business. They will do whatever it takes to be successful, and they expect everyone who works for them to do the same.

Needless to say, personal relationships often suffer when all one does is work.

Also, many entrepreneurs have lousy people skills. They are often more concerned with what their employees accomplish than with how they feel.

This insensitivity and lack of empathy are not received well by employees.

Need to Control

This is usually the primary reason people become entrepreneurs. They are risk-takers whose primary motivation is growth.

Coupled with high intelligence levels, a strong work ethic, confidence, and a strong sense of urgency, the entrepreneur’s need to control can be highly effective.

But, their lack of empathy, inability to delegate, and intolerance may have negative consequences.

In all fairness to the entrepreneur, they need to feel comfortable with others’ skills to delegate tasks.

Confidence in a person’s ability to get a job done is a prerequisite to delegation.

But, inadequate interpersonal skills can get in the way of ascertaining employees’ competence.


Success is the goal of the entrepreneur. Sometimes, success is achieved at any price, but success is the only acceptable result.

Many entrepreneurs lack managerial experience. Therefore, they are unable to effectively mentor subordinates and foster a team spirit.

This can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration on the part of the employee.

The entrepreneur does not understand and will not accept that employees do not always share the same drive.

They question why their employees are not willing to live by their “work – work – work” mantra.

Why should they? They do not own the company.

Entrepreneurs are:

  • Highly motivated
  • Goal-oriented
  • High-energy
  • Super-focused
  • Visionary
  • Driven

They are self-confident people who set high standards for themselves and for those who work for them.

But they can also:

  • Be intolerant of minor mistakes
  • Have over-inflated egos
  • Be unwilling to consider someone else’s point of view
  • Incapable of developing and maintaining solid interpersonal relationships

The same characteristics that can lead to the entrepreneur’s success might also lead to failure.

Practical Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

See the infographic below for tips on how young entrepreneurs can avoid the pitfalls, low points, and age discrimination when trying to start their own business.

pitfalls young enterpreneur

Originally published 09/01/2020; republished 01/07/22 to update content; Republished May 28, 2024, to add video.

The Entrepreneurial Dichotomy

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