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VALUE: JOHN WARRILLOW

Competitive streak marks true entrepreneur Add to ...

The entrepreneur: A ball of kinetic energy. Wired to perform. Demanding of himself or herself Egotistical. Driven. And a powerhouse of results.

Usually a company is lucky to have one at the helm. Some companies, founded by equally aggressive co-founders – Google and Microsoft come to mind – have two locomotives at the front of the train. Private-equity companies are so desperate to install entrepreneurs at the head of their investments that they spend tens of thousands of dollars on rigorous personality tests to evaluate the entrepreneurial qualities of candidates they’re considering to lead their portfolio companies.

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But what if you could create an entire team of entrepreneurs? A company of drivers?

No, it would not be easy to manage. It would be a demanding environment.

However, if you could harness the creativity and energy of a team of entrepreneurially minded people, imagine what you could accomplish, and how fast your company would grow.

Over the next several columns, I’m going to write about a formula for finding and motivating entrepreneurs to work for your company.

The first quality to look for: competitiveness.

A competitive streak

When looking for entrepreneurs, I skip most of the drivel on a résumé and scan for signs of competitiveness – the raw material needed for entrepreneurial drive.

I look for references to how candidates performed relative to others.

For example, an entry like “achieved 105 per cent of plan” implies no ranking of how someone’s performance compared to that of others, and would score low on my search for competitiveness.

However, “ranked third out of 128 salespeople” would show me that the candidate knew where he or she stood among peers. Now that would pique my interest in a search for an entrepreneurial sort.

Next, I skip down to a person’s interests to look for other signs of competitiveness.

The drive to win is instilled at an early age and becomes a core part of people’s personality, which is revealed by how they spend their downtime.

“Enjoys cooking, reading and watching classic movies” would signal to me that I should trash the résumé.

Instead, I’d be seeking people who have proven to be competitive in their personal lives.

Among entrepreneurial candidates, you’ll typically see elite sporting achievements. Sometimes you can see a sense of competitiveness in activities like debating or bridge.

Their choice of hobbies is less important than signs candidates know how they have performed relative to others.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Tomorrow: Why you should screen out MBAs.

John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which will be released in April.

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