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The 7 Biggest Challenges ENTJ And INTJ Entrepreneurs Face


Although only 3-5% of the population scores as ENTJ and INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, this personality type represents 20-30% of entrepreneurs. NTJ entrepreneurs hold many traits that make them brilliant at starting and growing a business. According to NetHunt, most successful entrepreneurs predominantly fall within four types: ENTP, ESTJ, ENTJ, INTJ.

ENTJ entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet, not to mention global leaders Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel. The INTJ personality type has an equally sterling lineup, with Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, Susan Wojcicki, Indra Nooyi, J.K. Rowling, Albert Einstein and Frieda Kahlo.

About ENTJ and INTJ entrepreneurs

ENTJ types are assertive, decisive and driven to succeed with a strong vision for the future. They often demonstrate strong self-confidence and self-assurance and are not afraid to take risks, motivating others towards their goal. Talented in strategic thinking, they can quickly analyse a situation, develop a plan of action and implement it.

INTJ types hold similar strengths. They too are highly analytical, skilled in identifying problems and coming up with creative solutions. They tend to be independent thinkers and doers, happily taking the initiative and making decisions on their own. With a strong desire to create and build something new, they are highly self-motivated with a strong desire to succeed coupled with the ability to remain motivated even when work gets tough.

Despite their strengths, these personality types have known weaknesses. These weaknesses can set them back in business and life if not overcome. From the personal experience of entrepreneurs who all score as ENTJ or INTJ, here are the top seven.

Impatience at not seeing results

NTJ entrepreneurs are high-powered people who aren’t afraid of putting in the work to create the results they know they are capable of. The flipside of this is impatience with not seeing consistent, positive results, especially regarding teammates. NTJ entrepreneurs can pick something up and roll with it immediately, but not everyone works that way.

“At times I’m annoyed with people who need more time to think and I have misinterpreted contemplation as others being distracted or disinterested,” said Edmund Lowell, founder of Flag Theory. It’s easy to see someone else’s need for more time as a weakness. Lowell soon realised that, “when I clearly communicate expectations and timelines, this gives teammates more time to think and produces higher quality outputs.”

Recognising that other people work to different timeframes, according to Lowell, means NTJ entrepreneurs should, “take a longer term perspective, and concentrate on [their] own inputs and habits.” That way they are focusing only on what is in their control, their “effort and attitude.”

Not doing a task even though they can

If something needs doing, an NTJ will naturally want to get on and do it. It’s easy for them to spring into action and start producing or fixing. But it could hold them back as an entrepreneur.

Coach, Brazilian Jujitsu black belt and ex-Israeli special forces officer Itamar Marani has worked on “remembering that ‘could’ does not equal ‘should,’” in that, “you shouldn’t do something just because you could do it.” Having coached hundreds of NTJ entrepreneurs, Marani believes, “paradoxically, your capacity and habit of learning new things rapidly can actually hinder your success. It can lead you to focus inward instead of looking outward. To doing certain things yourself instead of employing others.”

If Marani hears himself thinking, “could I do this?” he stops and asks, “should I do this?” This usually, “gives way to more effective high level thinking,” he added.

Formalizing processes too soon

NTJ characters are often effective in creating systems. They enjoy building out formalized processes and seeing them followed and are no strangers to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and documentation. As with all strengths, however, there is an accompanying weakness.

Serge Shlykov, founder of AMZ Watcher, said there are times when the INTJ in him, “gets too excited to build out formalized processes early,” and used to spend a lot of time building and maintaining process documents, “only to find out that 80% of the time they are not used, even as a reference.”

Shlykov now knows that, “not everything you do should become an SOP, especially in the beginning.” To overcome this challenge, he has been hiring better people and trusting them more. When he realizes a process needs an accompanying written document, “I ask the one doing the job to write it.” He appreciates hiring better people is expensive but believes it’s, “worth every penny.”

Overlooking the personal side of recruitment

Seeing facts objectively and making decisions based on logic comes naturally to NTJ entrepreneurs, which means they can be assertive and decisive in work situations. The flipside, however, is that they can miss more nuanced aspects of their decisions. Culture, for example, might seem fluffy to them since it’s not something that can be objectively measured, a problem for NTJ types.

Davis Nguyen, founder of MyConsultingOffer, has faced this problem. As an ambivert NTJ, and at the time the only leader in his company, he fired someone based on the fact that their work wasn’t at the required standard. He overlooked that although their work was subpar, they were a good culture fit, which led to panic and a short-term morale hit with the rest of the team.

Now, Nguyen is sure to explain his reasoning to the team. “After the firing, I tell them it was done because we keep high standards at our company, not because they weren’t a good culture fit.” He also adds that, “this termination allows that person to find a better opportunity where they will be praised for their culture fit and their performance… and we have freed up a spot to hire or promote someone who will do the same for us.”

Not accommodating other personality types

If you think and act in a specific way, sometimes it’s tough to understand people who think and act in a different way, especially if you consider it less effective. Rather than seeking to understand their point of view and adapt the exercise to suit the other person’s style, an NTJ entrepreneur may dismiss this person as incompetent and their viewpoint as poorly researched conjecture.

Max Sinclair, founder of Snowball Creations, used to run mind-mapping sessions in such a way that his team members would, “be asked a question and be required to come up with ideas on the spot.” He couldn’t understand why the others weren’t getting it, until one explained that, “for her style of thinking, to have the questions and have time to think before the session would work better.” Sinclair found this approach improved the quality of ideas across the group.

“Awareness and a big dose of empathy,” have served Sinclair well in these scenarios. Recognising that other people think, speak and act in different ways and it’s better to understand it than write them off.

Not appreciating filters and subtext

NTJ entrepreneurs can be thick-skinned, and many appreciate constructive criticism because their logical brain can accept and channel it into a plan of action. In return, they find it easy to give criticism and direct feedback, expecting it to be received in the same way.

“To me, constructive criticism is love,” said Nattha Wannissorn, founder of Wellness Medical Writer, “but most others don’t feel the same.” Wannissorn wishes for “a world where people have no need for filters. It’s draining when I have to worry about how the things I say will land on people.” When working with more sensitive souls, tiptoeing around them can feel like wasted energy.

One option here is to ask the other person if they would like feedback rather than assume they do. Once they say yes, give your critique. Remind them that it’s because you are on their side, you want the best for them, and you believe they are capable. It might be the reassurance they need to soften the bluntness.

Having exceptionally high standards

Setting the bar high, on the surface, doesn’t seem like a weakness. In most cases, high standards lead to a better quality of work and faster business progress. NTJ entrepreneurs set ambitious targets for themselves and are intrinsically motivated to reach them. When setting these targets for others, however, they can wind up disappointed.

“I’d often become frustrated when I felt I’ve given someone ample training, direction and time to perform a task, only for it to not be done to the standard or timeline I’d expected,” said Jase Rodley, founder of Dialed Labs. “For some time, it was near inevitable I’d be disappointed with the outcome.” This fuelled Rodley’s limiting belief of if you want it done right, do it yourself,and he would resort to executing instead of managing, which hindered his company’s growth.

His solution? Taking a step back. “I discovered that I’d spend months or even years learning a complex process, then expect a new hire to understand it within days.” This clarity, coupled with a commitment to staying high level instead of working on operational tasks led to Rodley, “working side by side with a COO who oversees all hiring, training, and day-to-day executing.”

Every strength has an accompanying weakness, and NTJ personality types know this first hand. They can be tremendously driven yet wildly impatient, with the capacity to get so much done that they don’t question whether they should be doing it at all. They rush to formalize processes from a blind love of systems, and have high standards of themselves but might underappreciate the learning curve and different working styles of others. On top of that, they are grounded in logic and reason and may forget the niceties when recruiting or engaging with colleagues.

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