If you had a business avatar, what might you be?
Are you a farmer, digging deep and cultivating clients? Perhaps you’re a hunter, who seeks to build new relationships and win hearts? Is your first inclination and pleasure to nurture or to hunt?
In popular business culture and corporate myth-telling (I’m looking at you, Suits, Billions, BRW and The Wolf of Wall Street), we’re regularly presented with one particular idea of a start-up rebel, an enfant terrible. They’re usually white men. They often present as tech dude-bros with man buns and sneakers working from sweet coworking spaces, be-skivvied savants who have a wardrobe featuring 100 versions of the same top to minimise decision-making, or hard-ass suited types with chic stubble and angel investors akimbo. The odd female entrepreneur appears in this narrative (but she is often typified as a denatured lunatic).
It can be difficult to imagine yourself as thriving in businesss if you cannot see that you fit into one of these stereotypical guises of success. It’s not impossible of course – it’s simply more difficult. A mentor of mine once said that you ‘cannot be what you cannot see’. Whilst I do not agree with this statement entirely, overall I see her reasoning: indentured poverty is inter-generational, and Boards that continue to be without women are unbalanced for the same reason. There are always going to be outliers who transcend race and gender in some way – those who manage to burst through into entrepreneurship and success – but there could be more if we were presented with greater diversity in tales of business success.
When working with clients, I’ll often ask them to identify their business avatar. Who might their business be if it were a person? This questions never fails to delight, as it brings levity and creativity into the space – it invites imagination and dreaming. They smile and confer, laugh or look stumped. Over time, the answers have ranged from Marvel characters through to car brands, controversial radio hosts to Richard Branson. (Branson is a favourite answer, btw.) This question also helps people to examine how they function as business owners. What do they like doing as their avatar? How do they see their most potent selves in commerce?
In this blog, I isolate two common business identity tropes: the farmer and the hunter. It’s true that we’re likely to have elements of each character in our business DNA – indeed we must have if we’re to survive the assault of start-up bootstrapping – but there’s usually one mode we’re more comfortable and joyful in.
Farmers thrive on order. They’re happiest when systems and processes are locked down, and feel at their most free to do good business when there are robust boundaries in place.
… you’re probably a Farmer if …
- You feel a deep sense of joy around using Trello and Asana workflow
- You’re horrified at the idea of selling, or cold calling
- You like to nurture relationships and go deep into connection with other’s stories
- You are hyper-aware of other’s boundaries and may feel self-conscious about infringing on them
- You have excellent follow-up skills and a steel-trap memory
- You like attending community events and networking, and are naturally attracted to BNI-type organisations with lots of structure and accountability
- You will think carefully before making definite statements and commitments
- Your prospecting style is ‘tried and true’, methodical and earnest
- A weakness is an inability to innovate
- A strength is pure stickability and repetition, season after season
Hunters enjoy the thrill of the chase. As secret approval-junkies, hunters thrive on building new relationships and winning people over to their worldview. Hunters do not typically enjoy structure, and prefer to work solo.
… you’re probably a Hunter if …
- You are reactive in your prospecting methods: when you’re attracted to something will drop other activities to pursue it
- You are social and good at beginning warm conversations with people from scratch
- You are personally compelling and charming
- You dislike too much management and structure in your working life
- You get slightly bored or frustrated with fine detail
- Prospecting isn’t a dirty word
- You go by gut instinct, and are prone to a belief in magical thinking
- You get a headrush with you win the business and make it rain
- You prefer to ask for forgiveness than permission
- You are an adopter of new technology in your marketing and will not shy away from self-promotion
- A weakness is a tendency to fly by the seat of your pants
- A strength is the ability to have a go and say ‘yes’
I’m naturally a hunter and enjoy the process of prospecting. Rejection still has the potential to impact negatively on me, but through years of repetition (a characteristic of the farmer), I have learned to care less about what other people might think of me. Longevity in business means sitting deep in your preferred seat – be it hunter or farmer – while pushing yourself to moderate your inclinations with skills of your complimentary avatar. So which are you: hunter or farmer?
Photography: Breeana Dunbar