Entrepreneur Personalities: The Butterfly vs. the Bee
As a business owner, self-knowledge is critical to your success. Read on to discover whether you’re a bee or butterfly type — and what that means for your business.
Most small business owners tend toward one side or the other of this continuum: either you’re constantly evaluating and reevaluating your business, or you feel like you’re too busy running your business to do so. Either extreme can be challenging–if you’re always reevaluating, you may not be willing to stick with a plan long enough to get results. If you’re too busy working in your business to work on your business, you might look up years down the road and realize you’ve gotten distracted from your main goal.
Which of those feels most familiar to you?
Before you start to judge which of these is better, let me be clear: both of these personalities are useful in business, in the right roles. The first personality type is the butterfly; flitting from one pretty flower to the next. They have a goal, but they’re easily distracted by new things. These are also the visionaries–the early adopters–quick to modernize, innovate, spot new trends, and implement them.
The second personality is the bee. They are so focused on achieving their goals that they rarely look up to reassess. If you’re the leader of your business, you probably (hopefully) act as the queen bee–leading the efforts of your workers. The worker bees, quite simply, keep their heads down and get things done.
Understanding your own personality is critical when building and overseeing your team. If you are a butterfly, you need a queen bee who will keep you focused on the task at hand (i.e. making honey). You also need worker bees to support you in implementation, since that’s probably not your strong suit. If you’re a bee however, you need a butterfly on your leadership team to drive innovation and ensure you stay relevant. The butterfly will help you capitalize on timely opportunities that you might otherwise miss.
If you’re a butterfly, ask yourself the following questions: do I know where my business is headed? Is its current trajectory going to efficiently bring about results? Am I constantly reevaluating my business because I get bored easily? I’ll admit, I have occasionally fallen prey to this “shiny new thing” syndrome, as have most of my “butterfly” clients. As entrepreneurs, we can get so excited by innovation and new ideas that we want to try everything, disregarding what we’ve already set in motion. The danger is that if you don’t give your plans enough time to work, you’ll never actually get results. Moving on before those plans achieve anything is worse than having no plans at all. It gives your team the feeling that they’re standing on shifting sands, and the boring view of running on a treadmill instead of down the field towards the goal.
If you’re a bee, ask yourself these questions: when did I last reevaluate my strategy? Am I open to new ideas and trends? Do I have someone on my team who keeps up with the latest and greatest technology? When did I last make time in my workday to brainstorm? Does my certainty and focus ever verge into arrogance? Most of the successful “bees” I know are relatively happy with the status quo, and reject the idea of changing course because what they’re doing is working. I admire that level of focus. The critical question for those bees however, is: how long will this strategy be effective? One bee-type company that comes to mind is Borders Books. They were my favorite bookstore, but they didn’t evolve with the times and move into digital content. Their strategy was working so they kept at it …until it was too late.
Now that you’ve identified which way you tend to lean, make sure you have complementary personalities on your team. Be proud of your strengths and monitor the areas you’re weak. Consider the strengths of those around you, and if you don’t have colleagues who fill in your gaps–get some, quick. Whether direct hires, mentors, consultants, or members of your board of directors, butterfly and bee executives need each other for a beautiful, blossoming, and well-pollinated garden. Remember, the smartest person isn’t necessarily the one with the highest IQ, it’s the one who surrounds herself with the best team.