Wantable Inc. founder Jalem Getz has mostly Builder DNA. John Lauber, founder and president of LauberCFOs, has mostly Specialist DNA.
Both determined their “Entrepreneurial DNA” types through the BOSI DNA system developed by serial entrepreneur Joe Abraham.
BOSI stands for Abraham’s four types of Entrepreneurial DNA: Builder, Opportunist, Specialist and Innovator.
Abraham describes the qualities of each type of entrepreneur in his book, “Entrepreneurial DNA: The Breakthrough Discovery That Aligns Your Business to Your Unique Strengths.”
In 2010, Abraham also started BOSI Global, an operating partner venture associated with the concept, which recently entered the Milwaukee market. It is based in Chicago, has offices in Sarasota, Fla., Houston, Singapore and Latvia, and employs about 20 seasoned entrepreneurs and executives.
Professionals, whether entrepreneurs or not, can benefit from taking the online BOSI test, which asks 10 questions about preferred working style, professional experiences and goals, and then explains the results, Abraham said.
“The original discovery happened quite by accident,” he said. “I was working with a group of companies, kind of helping them get to the next level, and was finding over and over again that the strategy that I was trying to provide them, one size wasn’t fitting all.”
After extensive surveying and a validation process, he determined there were actually four Entrepreneurial DNA types.
Most people are a mixture of the BOSI types, so there is a combination for everyone. Each BOSI profile report gives the entrepreneur a primary and secondary DNA type.
“It’s not really four,” Abraham said. “It’s combinations of the four. Every entrepreneur isn’t just one of these. They’re a combination of two or three or four of them.”
Builders are high growth and high maintenance, focused on sales volume and the bottom line, like Donald Trump.
Abraham describes them as “the ultimate chess player in the game of business, always looking to be two or three moves ahead of the competition.”
Getz, who founded successful New Berlin costume retailer BuySeasons Inc., feels his work style primarily fits the builder profile. He is focused on details and metrics, loves the science of building a business, has high standards for his employees and struggles with turning off his “business mind.”
After running several Halloween Express stores, Getz began selling costumes online so customers could find exactly what they wanted, instead of settling for the second choice during the last-minute rush. Centralized distribution, an enormous assortment of inventory and a focus on customer service helped build that online business, BuySeasons, into the largest company of its kind.
That same attitude toward creating customer value comes into play at his newest venture, Milwaukee-based Wantable, Inc. The company offers subscription beauty boxes containing makeup, accessories or intimate apparel for women. Wantable creates value and sets itself apart from competitors by picking each box specifically for the recipient, based on her listed preferences.
“The wind in your face is when you don’t do a good job and you don’t take care of your customers,” Getz said. “The wind at your back is when you do what we do.”
At Wantable, the keys to success are extreme personalization and creating an emotional connection with the customer.
Wantable has 24 employees and continues to grow because of Getz’ focus on strategically scaling it.
“We said, ‘OK, what are the categories that we can get into that we think we can expand across?’” Getz said. “We used a methodical, scientific approach about which ones to enter when.”
Abraham compares Opportunists to Richard Branson, who has an “anything is possible, failure is part of success mindset.” The Opportunist entrepreneur is speculative. He or she wants to be in the right place at the right time and make money quickly.
Tom Bentley III, owner and chairman of Milwaukee-based custom packaging solutions firm Bentley World-Packaging Ltd., considers himself primarily an Opportunist. He tends to be fearless about investing in good opportunities.
For example, Bentley owns a lot of property in southern Iowa because he was impressed by the development potential for the area. His risk paid off, and he doubled his farmland investment.
Bentley founded the company in the mid-1970s because he saw opportunity driving down the road in the shape of wooden shipping containers on truckbeds, and has grown it to the No. 1 company in the industry.
He loves networking and building connections with exporters and freight forwarders. Bentley is not scared to approach a large company that already does its packing in-house and convince it to outsource the process. A big risk can lead to big rewards.
And in 2000, when he wanted to grow strategically, Bentley began acquiring other packing companies located in areas where he saw opportunity ahead, like growing port cities.
“I do operate off more instinct and initial reactions to things,” Bentley said. “The world moves fast, and business moves fast. I’m not dumb about it, I don’t move too fast, but I might move too fast for some people’s comfort levels.”
Those who identify primarily as Specialists are like Bill Gates: They do one thing and do it well. They are risk-averse compared with Builders and Opportunists, and make up a large portion of small business owners.
“They are a vital part of the entrepreneurship ecosystem because without them, the large Builder DNA companies could not exist,” Abraham says.
Lauber is a certified public accountant, and has worked in the field throughout his career. He’s an expert in financial management, which is why he decided to start Milwaukee-based LauberCFOs.
“We have steadily grown over 27 years, but we haven’t had that explosive growth,” Lauber said. “We’re not nationwide. We’re not even statewide. I still want to continue to grow. I am driven to grow, but if I had a builder DNA, chances are that the business would be bigger by now, because I would be all consumed with building the business.”
Some Specialists, though, have not grown beyond a couple of employees because they are focused on building their expertise, he said. Lauber is focused on exceptional client service, another Specialist trait, and wants to pass that focus on to his employees.
As a Specialist, Lauber is committed to his craft and has a long view of the business.
“I’ve been doing it for almost 28 years, and I’m still enjoying what I’m doing,” he said. “Absolutely I’m in it for the long haul. I continue to enjoy what I’m doing. I continue to want to grow the business.”
Innovators are people like Steve Jobs. They enjoy working in the “lab” of the business, being creative. They build their creative ideas into companies.
Jane Cooper, owner and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based health care advocacy company Patient Care, has a talent for creating game-changing products and services and identifies with the Innovator DNA.
“Since I was 30 years old, I’ve started five companies,” Cooper said. “Those companies have all been businesses that have been sort of ahead of their time.”
Patient Care was a pioneer in providing advocacy services to health care consumers when Cooper founded it in 2001.
“I said, ‘There has to be a business opportunity here, because there’s hundreds of millions of people that have to navigate through the health care system and they are pretty much on their own,’” Cooper said. “And employers should be willing to pay for a service like ours.”
The company faced challenges initially, but Cooper kept bringing her Innovator DNA into the process to find the right products. She also looked at the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity to reposition the company and add to its offerings.
“You have to be innovative sometimes to start a business, and then you have to be innovative over time to keep it going,” she said. “When you start a business in a fairly new industry and then you start your business and grow, you can’t just say ‘Well, now I’ve been successful.’”
The BOSI DNA test is available at www.bosidna.com.
Abraham will be the keynote speaker at the BizTimes Bravo! Entrepreneur and I.Q. Awards Luncheon at the 10th annual BizExpo on Wednesday, May 21, at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. Attendees will receive a free copy of his book. For more information or to register, visit www.biztimes.com/bravo.
What’s your Entrepreneurial DNA? Take author Joe Abraham’s BOSI DNA test at www.bosidna.com.