Traits like a relaxed company culture, extraversion and openness make up an organization’s corporate personality. Just as happens with an individual’s personality, these traits may be used to place organizations into one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality type categories, giving customers, potential employees and investors valuable insight into the organization on different levels.
So, who cares? Startups should.
A startup’s personality is often the first impression the public has of the company. Personality affects audience awareness and engagement, as well as credibility in the minds of investors. When a startup incorporates its Myers-Briggs personality into the different aspects of its business, it increases its chances for success.
Here are three areas where a startup’s personality can make it or break it:
Being a startup is a challenge in itself, but determining how to market and brand the company is even more difficult. How does a startup’s personality help?
When a startup establishes a personality early on, that action helps drive the company’s branding strategy. Will the brand be engaging and funny online, or simply stick to customer service? Will it focus on educating its audience by sharing industry trends, or will all its communications be sales-based?
Depending on whether a startup chooses to be extraverted or introverted, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving, its branding efforts will either bring its audience closer or keep it at arm’s length.
In the world of Myers-Briggs personality typing, Apple is what’s called a Visionary, or ENTP. As an organization, Apple is committed to engaging its customers and innovating in its industry and beyond. People recognize Apple’s corporate personality and get excited about Apple announcements and products.
Startups should look for this kind of strong brand presence as a part of their personality. Whether the startup is an ENTP, an INTJ, ENFP or something else, it should focus on a branding approach that reflects its personality, and stick with it. Doing this helps people recognize the brand by more than just its name.
Related: Never Lose Your Overachiever Culture
2. Finding investors
Investors typically look for personality traits like attentiveness, responsibility and organization in entrepreneurs. A startup should have similar personality traits.
Startups that show a strong plan for growth, and tempered realism about the challenges the company faces, are attractive opportunities for investors. Intuitive and judging (N and J) personality types typically show the most progress in these areas.
If a startup’s personality seems overly confident or unrealistic in its marketing or sales approach, investors may think twice. To make the most out of investment opportunities, entrepreneurs should highlight how their startup’s personality helps the company adapt to new challenges and avoid “faith-based” growth projections.
When a startup’s personality doesn’t lend itself to these “investable” characteristics, owners should try to appeal to the investor’s personality. Is that person outgoing and creative? Do the investors involved value the social impact a potential investment might have over mere economic impact?
It’s important to know what motivates different investors to invest in different startups in order to have the best opportunity to succeed -- especially if a startup’s personality lacks traditionally “investable” characteristics.
A startup’s personality plays a big role in whom it hires. A 2014 study of 101 failed startups by CB Insights found that hiring the wrong people was the reason for the demise of 23 percent of startups surveyed. When integrated into the hiring process, a startup’s personality can help it avoid the kinds of poor hiring decisions that lead to failure.
Consider Zappos’ corporate personality, ESFP. Zappos is an outgoing organization that prioritizes practicality, expression, personality and corporate responsibility. Zappos’ corporate personality attracts employees with similar priorities, which it believes contribute to the organization’s continuing success. The point is to hire people who reflect and strengthen its corporate personality, ensuring that its personality remains apparent at all levels of the organization.
When hiring, then, consider each candidate in relation to the company’s personality, and make sure new hires reflect the startup's organizational values before bringing them on board.
Overlooking how an employee fits into a company simply because he or she is skilled may be costly in the long run.To avoid the kind of bad hires that lead to failure, increase the role the startup’s personality plays in the hiring process.
What’s your startup’s personality? How do you incorporate it into your startup strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!