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Why personality matters for business success

Why personality matters for business success

Photo credit: Campus Founders Photo credit: Campus Founders
Published on
22 Jan 2024
Written by
Fabian Braesemann
Departmental Research Lecturer Dr Fabian Braesemann visited Germany to present his latest research on the power of personality in shaping the success of startups and beyond.

Departmental Research Lecturer Dr Fabian Braesemann visited Germany to present his latest research on the power of personality in shaping the success of startups and beyond.

Why personality matters for business success

Just before Christmas 2023, Oxford Internet Institute Departmental Research Lecturer Dr Fabian Braesemann shared research insights that highlight the intersection of personality and startup success at two significant events at our partner organisation, For the Digital Age | TUM Campus Heilbronn. The first event was the inaugural TUM Campus Heilbronn Open Lecture, where Braesemann presented his latest study titled ‘The Impact of Founder Personality on Startups Success’. This presentation delved into how the characteristics of founders can significantly influence the trajectory and success of their startups.

In addition to this academic presentation, Braesemann extended his insights to a more practical audience at the Community Day organised by Campus Founders in Heilbronn. Here, he discussed the real-world applications of his research, specifically targeting how the composition of the founder team in terms of their personality traits influences startups. This session focused on equipping entrepreneurs participating in the event with knowledge of how their personality traits could affect their business ventures, offering valuable insights for experienced and aspiring founders, and investors. 

Both events, through their unique formats and audiences, underscore the mission of the Oxford Internet Institute to develop world-class research that is relevant both to the academic community and practitioners in business, policymaking and various industries.

The open lecture in Heilbronn

Dr Braesemann delivered a compelling lecture at TUM Campus Heilbronn, titled “The Impact of Founder Personalities on Startup Success” marking the first Open Lecture at the campus.

Key insights from the lecture include:

  • Personality in Entrepreneurship: Drawing on data from more than 21,000 startups, Dr Braesemann and his co-authors illustrated that successful founders typically exhibit high levels of openness, extraversion, and trust – personality traits that are different from the population at large
  • Founder Archetypes: The research identified not only one founder personality, but six distinct types – Accomplishers, Fighters, Leaders, Engineers, Operators, and Developers – each with unique traits but sharing common foundational characteristics.
  • Value of Diverse Teams: The study underscores the importance of personality diversity within teams, suggesting that a mix of personality types contributes significantly to a startup’s success.

During the dynamic Q&A session that followed Dr Braesemann’s keynote, which was led by Professor Philipp Lergetporer and Professor Helmut Krcmar of TUM Campus Heilbronn, the discussion delved into the study’s implications for career development, team composition of startup companies as well as methodological limitations and potential extensions of the study.

Dr Braesemann concluded by advising aspiring entrepreneurs and young people thinking about their future jobs to embrace their true selves instead of following pre-defined career tracks.

The Community Day 

In addition to the Open Lecture, Dr Braesemann also had the chance to discuss his research on the role of personality in driving startup success with aspiring founders and experienced entrepreneurs at the Community Day.

The event, which brought together entrepreneurs and innovators, was further enriched by a fireside panel discussion with contributions from Nina Hillemeir-Köhler, co-founder of reo, a platform for IoT-enabled circular packaging solutions; Juan Casian, CEO and co-founder of Atrato, a FinTech startup; and Kris Gunciarz, CEO and co-founder of Innential, an e-learning company. Following Braesemann’s keynote on the role of personality diversity in driving startup success, the entrepreneurs talked about the founding teams of their startups and which founder types best represent their own personalities. The panel was moderated by Simone Harr of Campus Founders. The discussion emphasised the importance of varied personal attributes and team dynamics in the entrepreneurial journey.

The takeaway

Braesemann’s research shows that success in entrepreneurship and team performance extends beyond just a solid business idea, hard skills, or following ‘typical career tracks’. It underscores the importance of self-awareness, highlighting that an individual’s personality plays a crucial role in determining their entrepreneurial or professional journey. Understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the types of work-related processes that align with one’s personality, is key to making informed career choices. This knowledge is invaluable not just for personal development but also for building strong, complementary teams – in startups and beyond. 

When starting an entrepreneurial venture, selecting partners and team members whose skills and personality traits complement one‘s own can significantly enhance the likelihood of success. This approach fosters a more dynamic and effective team environment, where diverse strengths are leveraged and weaknesses are mitigated, leading to a more resilient and adaptive business. Braesemann’s findings suggest that strategic team-building with an eye on personality diversity can be a powerful catalyst for entrepreneurial achievement.

More on our success in startups research

→ Fabian Braesemann speaks about ‘the impact of founder personalities on startup success’ at the Brain for Business Podcast.

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