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Personality Traits of Online Business Owners
What type of person starts an online biz
Everyone fantasizes about starting an online business but very few pull the trigger and make it happen.
There are a few personality traits that are very common among most online business owners that I’ve interacted with. Obviously I’m not a psychologist and this is based on my personal experience, but I think that there’s some truth to it.
If you nod your head while reading this article and think, “yep, that applies to me”, then you’re definitely on the right track. If you don’t see yourself in any of the following traits then it’s not IMPOSSIBLE to make it but you’re going to be battling against your own nature every step of the way.
If there’s one personality trait that’s completely non-negotiable in any type of business owner (not just online businesses), it’s industriousness.
Industrious people live primarily to work and always have to be doing something useful. They do not like to sit around. They are very dutiful. They don’t put things off, or mess things up. They finish what they start, and they do it on schedule. They are always considering how to accomplish more in less time, with fewer resources. They have remarkable focus.
If you’re not a naturally hard-working person then it’s impossible to make it with an online business.
You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder forcing you to do the work like you would as an employee in an office. There are no managers pinging you on Slack to make sure you’re meeting your deadlines.
It’s just you.
If you’re the type of person who can grind away for hours despite the fact that a big screen TV with Netflix is waiting for you in the other room then you’re definitely well-suited for running an online business.
If you’re the type who gets easily distracted and wastes your entire day surfing the internet and watching YouTube videos instead of working then you won’t.
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The vast majority of the human population is NOT conscientious enough to succeed with an online business. It requires extreme self-discipline and willpower. If that doesn’t come naturally to you then you should consider doing something else with your life.
Introversion is another personality trait that’s pretty much a requirement for online business owners.
People who are moderately low in extraversion are better suited to occupations that require work alone or with a few other well-known individuals (such as computer programming or accounting).
Jobs involving sales, persuasion, work in groups and public speaking are unlikely to appeal to them, and they are less likely to be successful at such things (particularly if they are also high in neuroticism).
People moderately low in extraversion are relatively unlikely to be impulsive, even when offered the opportunity to do something exciting or fun. They are therefore less likely to sacrifice the future to the present, when something social or group-oriented beckons.
They find it relatively easy to be alone to study and work. They are not easily distracted by opportunities to chat, joke and socialize.
There’s no way around it. Online business owners spend A LOT of time alone hunched over a computer. It’s just part of the game.
If you’re someone who NEEDS to be around people all day long then this 100% is not the life for you. If spending hours staring at a screen while doing keyword research, writing, editing, etc. sounds like torture to you then you should get a job in sales or some other role that requires you to interact with others on a regular basis.
If you’re comfortable spending tons of time by yourself not talking to anyone then an online business is perfectly aligned with your personality.
Introversion doesn’t mean that you have poor social skills or that you hate people. It just means that you draw your energy from being alone rather than from being around others.
Obviously you still need social skills for things like Zoom calls, so if you’re completely socially retarded then you should probably work on that.
I’ve definitely noticed a tendency towards disagreeableness in online business owners. This one doesn’t apply 100% of the time. I have seen some slightly agreeable people do well, but it’s less common.
People with very low levels of agreeableness are seen by others as markedly competitive, colder, tougher and very much less empathic.
They do not easily see the best in others, and are not particularly tolerant (an attitude that is much valued by agreeable people).
They are very much less concerned about the emotional state of others, are uncommonly willing to engage in conflict, and will happily sacrifice peace and harmony to make a point or (if conscientious) to get things done.
People may find them painfully straightforward and blunt. They tend very strongly towards dominance, rather than submission (particularly if also below average in neuroticism).
By disagreeableness I don’t mean being a raging, belligerent asshole.
I’m referring to the personality type who cares more about getting things done than they do about being liked by everyone.
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If you have employees then they’re likely going to be unconscientious people who can’t wait to clock out so they can go home and veg out in front of the TV. They don’t care about your business as much as you do (obviously since they don’t own it). If you want to get results out of them sometimes you’re going to have to crack the whip.
If you care more about getting your employees to like you then you do about having them perform at their maximum capacity then your business is going to suffer. Again, not saying to be a raging asshole who yells at people. You can (and should) be kind and disagreeable at the same time. I’m saying that you have to care more about reals than you do about feels.
Being disagreeable also helps when dealing with affiliate managers at the brands you promote (if you’re running an affiliate business). Their goal is to get you to give them more traffic while minimizing the amount that they pay out. You have to be able to stand up for yourself.
There are some people who tend towards agreeableness who do well, but they always have a side of them that’s able to “flip the switch” if necessary. Maybe if you’re somewhere in the 50-60th percentile of agreeableness you’ll be fine. But if you’re extremely agreeable (say 90th percentile) then I honestly don’t see a way that you’ll ever make it in anything in life.
The ability to stay calm and level-headed is an essential personality trait for any type of business owner.
People with low levels of neuroticism rarely focus on the negative elements, anxieties and uncertainties of the past, present and future. It is rare for them to face periods of time where they are unhappy, anxious and irritable, unless facing a serious, sustained problem.
Even under the latter conditions, they cope well, don’t worry too much, and recover quickly when stressed. They’re good at keeping their head in a storm, and they seldom make mountains out of molehills.
People with low levels of neuroticism can handle risk substantively better, without becoming unduly concerned. They are rarely concerned with security, and can more easily handle recreational, career, financial and social situations where the possibility of loss is higher.
If you’re the type of person who falls apart at the first sign of adversity then you have no chance of being successful with your business.
People who have high levels of neuroticism are the type who will quit at their first setback instead of putting their head down and powering through.
The entrepreneurial life involves so many ups and downs. You have to be the type of person who can grind away at your tasks and stick to the plan regardless of how much revenue you’re bringing in. If you get hit by an algorithm update and lose half of your traffic it shouldn’t cause you to collapse into the fetal position and cry like a little bitch.
If you can keep working despite not getting results then it’s basically impossible to not make it, as long as you’re intelligent.
Openness to experience
You have to be extremely open-minded if you want to make it with an online business.
Individuals moderately high in openness to experience tend to be entrepreneurial in spirit, as well as smarter and more creative.
They have more than average interest in creating new ventures, sometimes for profit, sometimes for curiosity, and sometimes for personal transformation.
At least moderately high levels of openness to experience appear necessary to the formation and leadership of business and other forms of complex organization, although conscientiousness appears required for the attention to detail and process management that such organizations also always need.
People who are moderately high in openness to experience are somewhat less well adapted to situations or occupations that are routinized and predictable. They have some trouble fitting in at the bottom of hierarchies.
They are less suited to entry-level, repetitive, rote positions, because they often think up new ways to do things, and such ideas are seldom welcome from someone at the bottom.
They are creative thinkers. They tend to shake things up a bit, particularly if they are also disagreeable and assertive, and may be attracted to more revolutionary ideas.
To even start a business requires that you be extremely open-minded.
Close-minded people are the types who keep showing up to their 9-5, day in and year out, like human cattle. They can’t think of any other way.
If you’re one of the few who can break free from your programming and try to do something different in life then you’re open-minded by definition.
Once you start your business you have to continue being open to new ways of doing things. If you aren’t, then you’ll stagnate and your business will slowly die.
Close-minded people don’t start businesses and they are incapable of growing businesses that already exist. You have to be the type of person who is always open to new ideas and experiences if you want to make it.
The above traits make up the personality style that’s most likely to be successful at starting and succeeding with an online business.
If you see yourself while reading this article then you have a high chance of making it.
If you’re reading through this article and shaking your head thinking, “wow, none of this applies to me”, then it might not be impossible but it’s going to be a hard road for you.