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What's Your Entrepreneurial CPA Style?

There are fewer barriers to entrepreneurship than ever. In the new reality of the gig economy, laptop lifestyle, work from anywhere mindset and the ability to carry more computing in our pockets than was used to put a man on the moon, all that’s needed is little more than idea, passion, and an internet connection to get started. Unfortunately, we too often see entrepreneurs fail before they even get started, they have amazing passion and energy, but have trouble turning that passion into concrete action to produce the results they want to achieve. Identifying and understanding your style of learning, communicating, and leadership, and that of those with whom you collaborate, can be a secret code for getting ahead and avoiding typical entrepreneur failure before things really get started.

Because you are here, we know an entrepreneurial spirit lives within you, step one is complete!. You can be an entrepreneur, ready to take on the challenges of starting your own firm or challenging the status quo of an industry. You can be an intrapreneur, ready to take on the way of thinking and ownership of ideas to help guide your current employer to new heights. In whatever manner the spirit manifests itself inside you, the key to mastering it lies in knowing yourself first.

Over the years there have been many personality tests, from Myers-Briggs and DiSC to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies that try and unlock your potential for success. Now, instead of taking some long multiple choice test, which as an entrepreneur full of passion, you may struggle to finish, I have a hands-on test for you, one a bit different than the usual leadership or personality exam.


Select your favorite color of that name brand modeling clay, he one with the distinctive (and, I believe, trademarked) scent. Feel the coolness as it comes out of the can, the comforting (or icky) squish when you squeeze it.

Our exercise here today will reveal your subconscious decision-making and reveal insights into how your habits while playing with this toy expose your entrepreneurial style.

I hope to reveal to you the hidden strengths you have and how to maximize them to your advantage on your entrepreneurial journey. You may find that you identify with more than one style. This complexity adds layers to your style and creates a hybrid that can use each strength to an advantage as needed.

Now, imagine and play along with me…

...after you have removed the clay from its can, what is the first thing you do with it?

  • Smell it?

  • Knead it continuously?

  • Roll it into a ball?

  • Roll it into a rope?

  • Flatten it?

  • Break it into pieces?


Each of the activities listed lends itself to an entrepreneurial style. Most of us are a combination of the traits that will be explained.

In the descriptions below I use the words leader and entrepreneur almost interchangeably. If you are an entrepreneur, you are a leader, whether you set out to be one or not.


If the first instinct is to smell the modeling clay and breathe deep the distinctive scent, then the designated entrepreneurial style is that of an experiential leader. Experiential entrepreneurs learn by doing, and not just when they are building their business. They take their life experiences outside of work and apply them to all aspects of their lives. They are at their best when they learn, build and inspire through real-world experiences and applications. They are present in the moment during their journey and appreciate the thrill and emotional experience of the challenge.


Kneading the lump of clay demonstrates the tendency toward a contemplative entrepreneurial style. Contemplative leaders call upon a large array of skills that allow them to anticipate, innovate, question, and adapt. Because they think deeply and observe, they often notice patterns that others do not. This deeper awareness allows this style of entrepreneur to free themselves from old ways of thinking and relate and adapt in newer, more effective ways to the challenges of entrepreneurship.


Rolling the clay into a ball allows is the physical manifestation of a holistic entrepreneur. This style of leadership is all about the whole plan, the overall effect, and the community they build for their end user and employees. These leaders look at the big picture and how their products and services contribute to the greater good of society and also positive or growth experiences for everyone involved.


The creation of the rope, or snake, indicates a linear thinker. The linear entrepreneurial style is one that focuses on what it takes, step by step to build their business. The greatest strengths of this style are the ability to build processes and procedures that allow for efficiencies to be built and systems for replication of success. The linear entrepreneur plans their business and growth and works towards it in a methodical, lock-step manner.


Manipulating the clay and leveling it out into a disk or pancake reveals the traits of an inclusive entrepreneur. This leader puts all ideas and individuals on the same level playing field. Creating a field where all ideas toward a common goal and purpose can be equally considered and not deterred by bias or status quo. Inclusive entrepreneurs know that the next great idea, innovation, tool, or product can come from anywhere and welcome the disruption that brainstorming can bring.


Entrepreneurs that find themselves breaking the clay into smaller pieces indicate that they are a disciplined leader. These business builders create frameworks and processes to build their business. They also observe and ask questions to learn from others mistakes. They are the ones that work consistently toward their goals and make great strides by putting in the day to day requirement to show up and do the hard work of building a brand.


The goal of this exercise isn’t to tell you what you are not, but to illustrate that the things we do at a subconscious level can reveal details we didn’t know about ourselves. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to be able to focus your passion and energy. By understanding your own style and strength you will be 10 times more successful at your efforts as a result. Taking time to contemplate your goals and who your brand represents is vital to building an authentic life. With authenticity, your entrepreneurial journey will be one that brings you joy and guides you to your true calling.

Want to understand your style and how to get started on your path to becoming an Entrepreneurial CPA, click here to book a time to chat with one of our Entrepreneurial CPAs.

Erin Kidd is an Enrolled Agent, Accredited Financial Counselor ®, and has her Master’s Degree in Business Administration. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin as @taxladyErin. She’d love to connect to talk about financial literacy, taxes, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and stuff that makes us laugh! LTC Dan Kidd contributed to this article and assisted with identifying and determining the six entrepreneurial styles.

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