Types of Business Owners - Caleb Jones

In working with scores, or even perhaps hundreds of business owners (I never counted) over the last almost 25 years, I’ve noticed that most business owners break down into the following categories. They are listed in no particular order.

The Visionary

Visionaries are guys with huge, grand plans. They are usually extroverts, highly intelligent, super motivated, very well-spoken and do well in front of groups. They are strongly passionate and are very good at getting others excited about their ideas. Many Silicon Valley startup guys are in this category, as was Steve Jobs and Walt Disney.

The problem with the Visionary is that he’s locked into the big picture and often screws up on the details. Usually Visionaries need to partner with more nerdy, anal people to actually get things done. Visionaries are also often highly emotional, have big tempers, and get really pissed off when the things don’t go their way.

The Grump

This is the reluctant business owner who secretly hates his own business. To him, his entire business is a huge pain in the ass and he’d rather just retire or do something else, but, for whatever irrational reason, he thinks he can’t.

He is always suspicious of everyone. He can’t stand his employees and wishes they would all just go away. He’s always expecting his vendors to rip him off and he treats them accordingly. His employees tiptoe around him in a near-constant state of terror.

Grumps are super meticulous and anal. They will spend hours of their time trying to save $40. They are hard workers, but almost always work on the exact wrong things. The irony is that sometimes Grumps can be very successful financially, but they’re always stressed out and never really happy.

The Spastic

The Spastic is the extremely excited extrovert who is constantly bouncing around from one project to the next. He’s always happy and excited, but his business is usually a mess. His office is a mess, his desk is a mess, his books are a mess, everything’s all screwed up, and his exasperated employees, as much as they love him, have to work very hard to keep him in line and keep everything afloat.

Everyone loves the Spastic, including his employees, vendors, and customers. He’s the nicest, most fun guy in the world. But people who look at the internal workings of his business are amazed he’s still in business with all the constant chaos. Spastics waste thousands upon thousands of dollars a year in wasted expenses and wasted time. Like the Visionary, it’s usually a good idea for a Spastic to somehow partner with a more organized person to help keep him in line.

The Tactician

Perhaps the opposite of the Spastic, the Tactician is a mastermind at both planning and execution. He researches, makes detailed plans of action, then he puts his head down, works hard and focused, and implements his plans just as he designed. Because of their focus on both planning and action, Tacticians are usually very successful. They don’t fart around and are highly efficient and effective.

The downside of Tacticians is that unlike Visionaries, Tacticians can sometimes lose sight of the big picture and can spend years of their lives diligently working on the wrong projects. They are also highly robotic and don’t naturally engender a sense of camaraderie like the Spastic does; Tacticians will quickly fire employees and customers alike without a second thought so they can get back to work on their master plan, and they can really rub people the wrong way if they aren’t careful. They tend to be lone wolves and can miss out on huge business opportunities that involve working with others. (FYI, I am a Tactician.)

The Worker

The Worker is a simple, hard-working, blue-collar type who woke up one day and found himself running a business. He didn’t really think it through as a goal like most other entrepreneurs; instead, it just kinda happened.

Workers are usually very friendly, very pleasant to work with, and are down-to-earth people. Their companies are usually well-run but they never really take off or do anything amazing. A business run by a Worker will tend to stay small and simple.

Workers tend to lack both vision and management skills. They don’t delegate well and often work very hard on tasks they shouldn’t, stressing themselves out.

The Salesman

This is the pure sales guy who started a business. He has a fantastic personality, is a great salesperson, and a real go-getter. He usually dresses very nice, is often good-looking, and is usually an extrovert (though there are introvert Salesmen as well).

He’s the front man of the company, and spends most of his time out in the world doing deals and closing sales. He usually has someone back at the office who actually runs the internal workings of the company, which is good, since the Salesman has no interest in that kind of thing. They aren’t nearly as big of thinkers as Visionaries, they tend to be a little more realistic in their goals, and have little to no actual management skill, but they tend to combine the strategic thinking of the Tactician with the work ethic of the Worker to great effect.

Your job is to identify which of the types you likely are (or will be) and be aware of both your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner, since you will have both.

8 Comments on “Types of Business Owners

  1. Interesting article!

    Off topic:

    Caleb,you said in the latest podcast,that your biggest life regret was that you didnt live in Asia for 2 years, when you were in your 20s.Could you make a post about travelling on another part of the globe and doing what you wanted to do,but you didnt do it?

    I am in a similar position and I think that a lot of men have the same desire to go to another part of the globe and live there for a while.If you have gone to Asia,how would you sustain yourself?What would you do there?

  2. The Office (US TV show) main characters arranged in CJ’s Six Types:

    The Visionary: Robert California, Ryan Howard, Jo Bennett, David Wallace

    The Grump: Darryl Philbin, Stanley Hudson, Toby Flenderson

    The Spastic: Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, Holly Flax

    The Tactician: Dwight Schrute, Jan Levinson, Angela Martin

    The Worker:  Pam Bessly, Oscar Martinez, Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration

    The Salesman: Jim Halpert, Todd Packer

  3. Could you talk more about the diferences and the similarities of the Spastic vs the Visionary? Any example?

  4. thanks for great post to know your strengths weakness compared with others

    interesting are all these offline biz owners ?(location dependant product/service)

    any quick takes on disc mbti for these biz personalities

    could you compare types of info marketers

     

  5. Caleb,you said in the latest podcast,that your biggest life regret was that you didnt live in Asia for 2 years, when you were in your 20s.Could you make a post about travelling on another part of the globe and doing what you wanted to do,but you didnt do it?

    I am in a similar position and I think that a lot of men have the same desire to go to another part of the globe and live there for a while.If you have gone to Asia,how would you sustain yourself?What would you do there?

    Good idea. Added to the topic list.

    Could you talk more about the diferences and the similarities of the Spastic vs the Visionary?

    1. The Visionary sticks with one project or business for a very, very, long time until he’s successful. The Spastic can’t do this. He gets bored and/or discouraged much too quickly and is constantly bouncing around from one business/project to the next.

    2. The Visionary can convince people of his vision much better than the Spastic.

    3. The Spastic is much more likeable and easier to work with than the Visionary.

    interesting are all these offline biz owners ?

    No it’s a mix of both.

    any quick takes on disc mbti for these biz personalities

    I could analyze that, but I don’t think I want to. (It would be pretty obvious too.)

    could you compare types of info marketers

    Same categories, more or less.

  6. Can you change type?  If I’m being honest I probably most closely align with The Grump, but don’t want to be that way.

  7. Can you change type?  If I’m being honest I probably most closely align with The Grump, but don’t want to be that way.

    Of course you can. Look inward. Set a Mission. Design your ideal life. Set some goals. Radically change what you’re doing in your business. Do everything I talk about.

    I was a partial Grump myself at one point and I did all that, and now I’m the happiest man I know. The transition isn’t easy, but it can be done.

  8. There are mixes/ hybrids of these of course.

    There is DEFINITELY the “analytical detail-oriented introvert” who misses the big picture, as you stated. I have huge elements of that.

    However there is also a “Philosophy, Big Picture” introvert. They are the idea person, philosopher, love solving problems and creating plans, but not executing them. Kind of like the Dreamer/ Visionary, but they are 100% introverted personality.

    Usually in these personality categories, there are different axes. The ones that is always well established is introvert-extrovert, that is an established spectrum.

    There is also one that is ideas — numbers — people — and different people have more affinities towards different elements.

    What I’ve heard in the past is that it’s ideal to obviously partner (or hire) a person most that is almost your opposite working style, to detect your blind spots. We prefer people with our thinking style (an analyst works well with analysts) but it magnifies blind spots and weaknesses.

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