Today I want to explore the two different type of entrepreneurs – the specialist and the generalist.

The same way we have the two types of people in our society, introverts and extroverts – I believe that there is a similar differentiation in the world of entrepreneurship.

In fact, I also believe that there is a connection between being an introvert and being really great at something, and extroverts with being good at many things but not really extraordinary in one thing.


Specialist vs. Generalist

Since I am coming from an architectural background I would consider myself more as a generalists. My education was very broad and I don’t feel that I am particularly good at one thing.

Well, I wouldn’t say architects aren’t good at anything but rather compare them to a T-Shape designer, a term coined by Tim Brown a couple of years ago.

Because a building is a complex construct and consists of many different parts that require very different skills, it is impossible for one person to have all the knowledge and build the building on his own.

Architects are at the core of a construction process, they learn to deal with many topics at once and coordinate specialist in order to get the job done.

Experienced Architects have a great understanding of the different fields and their processes.

They have a great overview on the bigger picture (the entire building) and know how to bring the different parties together (cooling, heating, water, electricity, etc.).

Yet, architects are not superior at anything. They are just good at building the system and hiring people to build the different components.

The same is true when it comes to entrepreneurship.

In the past I observed different types of businesses built by different types of people. This article explores the advantage and disadvantages of both types: specialist vs. generalist – to make it easier for you to understand and know what type of entrepreneur you are.

Generalist versus Specialist

The “Architect” – The generalized Entrepreneur

This type of entrepreneur is similar to the architect: not really good at ONE thing. Generalists are typically people coming from various backgrounds with insights from many fields. They basically know a little bit of “everything”. But they lack the ability to focus on one thing to get really good at it because they simply lack the patience because they are interested in learning many things. These types of entrepreneurs are always searching for the next opportunity and come up with new ideas. Once they accomplish one, they move to the next. They hustle and never really rest.

What generalists are very good at:

  • Communication
  • Networking
  • Strategic planning
  • Building systems

Examples for great entrepreneurs in this category

Generalist versus Specialist

The “Bricklayer” – The specialized Entrepreneur

These are the ones that are extremely good at something because curiosity and passion drives them forward. They spent day and night to understand and solve a problem. If they can’t solve it, they can’t sleep until they found a solution. They tend to spend a lot of time in solitude, thinking about problems their solutions. These are actually the people who create real innovation and bring humanity one step forward. Specialized Entrepreneurs found their niche and they share their knowledge with the world to make money. People come to them because they have a reputation and credibility to be the best in their respected fields.

What specialists are very good at:

  • finding a niche and owning it
  • problem solving
  • keeping focus
  • optimizing processes

Examples for great entrepreneurs in this category

As you can see, both groups have different strength.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the other group cannot have the same abilities but it only means that one group found specific tasks easier to execute than the other.

But after all, to become a real entrepreneur you need to build a foundation that can be applied to any of the groups stated above:

What all entrepreneurs have in common:

  • they delegate tasks, that they’re not good at
  • they automate processes to save time
  • they never stop learning
  • they are willing to take risks
  • they know that failing is part of winning
  • and last but not least: they don’t have the employee mindset

Understanding the two types will help you to make smarter choices when building your first business.

If you feel that you are very good at something and that other people can benefit from your knowledge, you can build a niche product and target an audience more easily.

If you think that you are good at combining things to something greater, spent more time on designing a scaleable business and look for people who can help you built the single components.

You can’t go wrong either way, the only thing you need to do is take action.

So, what type of entrepreneur are YOU?