Many of us know the challenge of taking the road less travelled. For an entrepreneur, managing risk and ambiguity and challenging convention go with the vocation.
In my new book The Misfit Economy (co-authored with Kyra Maya Phillips) we put the spotlight on informal entrepreneurs who regularly challenge the system – pirates, hackers, gangsters, Amish camel milk farmers and others.
Far from being fringe actors, we’ve found surprising parallels between these misfit protagonists and mainstream entrepreneurs. Behind every great entrepreneur is a little bit of misfit DNA. So take a moment and ask yourself - what kind of misfit are you?
1. The Hacker – You have a thirst for information. You love to understand complex systems and you aren’t afraid to tinker, to fix, to take things apart. Your loyalty to principles comes before your loyalty to any one organization or group of people. Examples – Edward Snowden, Julian Assange.
2. The Maverick – Incredibly opportunity-driven, risk comes naturally to you. If someone says something cannot be done, that adds fuel to your fire. Always exploring the next market opportunity, it can be hard for you to focus on the now. Your ideas are often ahead of their time. Examples – Richard Branson, Nikola Tesla.
3. The Bohemian – You are inspired by the unusual. Your creativity is more likely to come listening to electronic music in Berlin or from a mescaline-fuelled retreat in Mexico. You are primarily driven by the offbeat and eccentric. Your restless sense of wanderlust keeps you going. Examples – Ernest Hemingway, Andy Warhol.
4. The Copycat – Good ideas don’t come from thin air. They build on the past. Never a believer in original ideas, you re-mix and mash-up the old to create something new. You believe more in the advantages of the copycat than the first mover. A natural observer and strategist, risk is something you calculate. Examples – Shanzhai IP pirates, the Samwer brothers.
5. The Dissident – Your mission in life is to wake people up. You poke and prod business as usual, never comfortable with convention. You like to shock and provoke. You have the courage to ignite conversations that many might be too fearful to initiate. Examples - Che Guevara, Martin Luther King.
6. The Craftsman – You were born for simpler times. You take pride in what you make and don’t take shortcuts. Integrity is a core value. You aren’t afraid of hard work and focus. You are meticulous. Examples – Amish farmers, Henry Thoreau, Martha Stewart.