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The Founder’s Zodiac: Passion and the Pursuit of Independence

Illustration by Alice Mollon: several people are painting flowers on canvases set on easels. A woman in the centre is climbing the easel and cutting out a large paper flower.

After studying some of the millions of business owners who use Shopify, we’ve discovered that founders tend to fall into one of five personality types. Take our quiz: What type of entrepreneur are you?

Welcome, stargazers. ✨As a seasoned business owner or an aspiring self-starter, you’re arming yourself with every possible tool on your spaceship to greatness. You have fire in your belly, but what keeps it burning? The more you understand about yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to chase your passion—whether it’s the love of your craft, the pursuit of money, or the thrill of the launch.

In our Founder’s Zodiac series, we’ll dive deep into what moves you and make recommendations based on your Founder Sign. (Not sure what that is? Take our quiz to get started.) And each month, we’ll explore a different theme and highlight one of the five signs.

The theme of our inaugural edition is—you guessed it, fortune teller—passion. What are you passionate about? How do you turn it into a business? How do you keep the passion alive through the peaks and valleys of growth? For the Trailblazer, decision making is driven by passion—that’s why they’re our sign of honor this month.

Jump to your type:

Feature Sign: The Trailblazer

Illustration by Alice Mollon depicting The Trailblazer: woman riding on a paintbrush that is painting a road2020 is in full swing and your path is already forged. You’re naturally self-motivated and that’s an asset when it comes to achieving your goals. Passion drives you and it shows in every intention you set. While you’re marching toward those goals, though, Trailblazer, keep in mind that passion can only take you so far. Hydrate and lace up those hiking boots—in the world of business, rough terrain could be around the next turn.

For the Novice Trailblazer: As a trailblazing founder-in-training, what’s stopping you from taking that big idea to the next level? Use those innate problem-solving skills of yours to connect the “what” with the “why.” Your future customers and investors will buy into your story—your passion is infectious. But your business still needs to make sense on paper. Are there others who share your passion? How will you find them? 

For the Advanced Trailblazer: If you’ve turned what you love into a thriving business, congratulations! We knew you could do it. Your passion for what you do is a strong motivator to get you through any bumps along your path. In the (hopefully) long-term relationship you’re building with your business, how do you maintain the intensity? Allow yourself enough space to pivot and explore new ideas, too. Staying singularly focused might dampen your creativity. Bask in the energy of other ideas and like-minded creatives to keep things spicy.

Recommended read: Outraged: T-shirts and the Ongoing Fight for Women’s Equality. When a personal project gained unexpected virality, Rebecca Lee Funk reinvented her career, founding activist brand The Outrage. Through her work, she draws on her past experiences and passion for international development to make an impact on causes close to her heart.

💫 Trailblazer of note 💫

Michelle Galarza, founder of Incredible Love

Michelle says she comes by her Trailblazer tendencies honestly. “I come from a small immigrant family where my Ecuadorian mom encouraged us to go after what we want.” The former Marine sought to reinvent herself after a divorce. She left active service and became a serial entrepreneur, dipping her toes in the food industry before becoming a matchmaker and relationship coach. She also runs her beauty business on the side. “My passion for wanting to change the conversation about self-love and self-care lead me to start Incredible Love,” she says.

My passion for wanting to change the conversation about self-love and self-care lead me to start Incredible Love.

True to her type, Michelle says that bringing ideas to life with other people is the best part of running a business. Though the boss gig can sometimes have its challenges—for her, it’s keeping up with technology—she creates rituals to help re-energize her spirit. “Some of those rituals for me,” she says, “are a monthly mastermind with other business owners to exchange ideas and, most importantly, scheduling time off.”

The Mountaineer

Illustration by Alice Mollon depicting The Mountaineer: woman leaning on a mountain painting constellations with her fingersYou’re always striving to unlock the next level, Mountaineer, and your drive will get you there. Each goalpost you reach inspires you to set another one just a little higher. You’re constantly one-upping your own achievements. Unlike Trailblazers, you may not be motivated by a passion for your product or industry, but rather by its potential for growth and money making. Ask yourself, though: what really makes you happy? Does reaching a goal give you satisfaction or just leave you wanting more? If it’s the latter, take time to find happiness in the chase. Learn to love the journey and celebrate your wins (and falls) before the next climb.

Recommended listen: Shopify Masters: The Simple Business Model Used to Build a $2.4 Million Business. Sheets & Giggles founder Colin McIntosh flipped the usual startup narrative on its head. Instead of building a product he was passionate about, he started first with a proven business model and adapted a product to fit.

The Cartographer

Illustration by Alice Mollon depicting The Cartographer: woman holding a square ruler and drawing a lineThis is your month, Cartographer. Passion drives everything you do, but you’re not blinded by love. You take small steps before plunging head over heels into what moves you. Be careful not to be a killjoy, though—overthinking might strip your ideas of the spark that created them. If you’re still in the planning stages of your Next Big Thing, allow yourself to launch before you think you’re ready (hint: you’ll never feel ready). A little leap—helmet straps tightened, of course—might reinvigorate your passion while you’re elbow-deep in spreadsheets. Lifelong learning and leveraging entrepreneur resources will help you fill the gaps as you go.

Recommended listen: Shopify Masters: Why This Founder Took Two Years to Launch. Host Felix Thea interviews founder Mel Wells about how she took a winning idea through its paces before launching Beefcake Swimwear.

The Firestarter

Illustration by Alice Mollon depicting The Firestarter: a man holding a few file folders like a hand of playing cardsFor you, Firestarter, there’s no bigger enemy to passion than stagnancy. Like a shark, you have to keep moving to stay alive. New ideas motivate you and you absolutely must pursue them. While you’re in the middle of selling your first business, automating your second, or finding funding for your third, though, when do you pause? What are you passionate about outside of your business? Knowing when to draw the line between work and play is critical for a mover and shaker like you. You may get energized by action, but listen to your body—we all need a recharge once in a while. It may just clear headspace (and heartspace?) for the next idea.

Recommended read: 9 Self-Care Strategies for Busy Entrepreneurs. Learn how small changes in your habits and environment can give you the energy and focus you need to go all in on your passion.

The Outsider

Illustration by Alice Mollon depicting The Outsider: man chiselling a large coinYou don’t need to be in love with what you do, Outsider, as long as your expertise draws a steady income. Passion isn’t what drives your pursuit of entrepreneurship, but your heart shows in your dedication to your craft. It’s important that you continue to hone and nurture that, to find purpose beyond the paycheck. Otherwise, what brings you joy? If you work to live, be sure to draw a line between the two. It’s easy to forget the live part when your head’s down in your work, especially if you’re solo. You also may need to draw on the energy from your out-of-work passions to keep you motivated when your stable foundation is shaky.

Recommended read: Gotamago's Story: Building a Life and a Business Under One Roof. Gotamago founders Lichia Liu and Christopher Guest share their living space with their workspace, but the two understand where one stops and the other begins.

If you’ve yet to determine your Founder Sign, take our quiz, then sign up for our newsletter. The Founder’s Zodiac runs every month and offers up advice and relevant content curated just for your type. Next month’s theme: community and belonging.

Illustrations by Alice Mollon