Uncovering Entrepreneurial Talent, Saving the Economy

By Marci Narum

Photography: Photos by Jacy

It seems like the right answer: starting a business. But, it quickly leads to a long list of questions: 

  • Where do I start?
  • Do I need a business plan? A business partner? 
  • Should I hire an accountant?
  • What about a logo? Business cards? Signage? Advertising?
  • Who’s going to take care of merchandising? Ordering? Shipping?
  • What about a website? I don’t know anything about websites! 

That’s just scratching the surface. While it might sound like the beginning of a nightmare, the entrepreneurial spirit can help fan the flame of the economy; one person’s business dream could lead to another’s dream job

According to the Gallup World Poll, work — a good job — is the number one thing people around the world want. Businesses drive economic energy through job growth and by raising the GDP, and, according to Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, building more businesses will do that. 

“He talked about the GDP and the number of businesses that are starting,” Noreen Keesey of Bismarck says. “We are at a point where there are more businesses failing than businesses starting.”

Noreen Keesey

Noreen specializes in assessment-based training and coaching. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths coach and uses Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder as a tool for helping people understand and apply their natural talents to increase their personal fulfillment and professional success. She is one of only 300 people in the world to be trained in Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 (BP10). Noreen heard Jim Clifton speak about the rigorous research behind the BP10 at a summit in Omaha, Nebraska this year.

“There’s a lot of research about how many people are starting businesses, but a lot of them are very small; they’re looking to replace their own jobs,” Noreen explains. “Jim said this assessment is important because it’s how we’re going to fix our economy. When he’s talking about builders, he’s talking about building businesses that employ people. They are creating those jobs that people are looking for.”


Noreen cautions, the BP10 does not determine whether a person should start a business or be a business builder.

“It definitely is not meant to discourage people from starting a business. It’s just a little bit more information about yourself that can help you succeed if you choose to start a business.”

Gallup researchers studied successful builders and identified 10 demands of business ownership: confidence, delegator, determination, disruptor, independence, knowledge, profitability, relationship, risk, and selling. Gallup then created an assessment to measure an individual’s entrepreneurial talents in each of those areas.

“It’s not prescriptive,” Noreen explains. “The assessment isn’t going to tell you that you must have a business partner or else you’re going to fail, but it will tell you that if profitability is number 10 (on your list of results), then maybe you need to have an adviser who can help you look at your pricing or costs.”

Noreen says the BP10 is also useful for filling positions within a business.

“The assessment will tell you which of three roles you fall into: Expert, Conductor, or Rainmaker. A Conductor is really good at managing pieces of a business. Experts really love diving into their field of expertise and becoming the best at what they do. The Rainmaker is really good at focusing on customers and bringing in profit. Ideally, when you’re looking at an organization, you want to have each of those, so you’re not hiring somebody who’s focusing on the same things you are.” 

As a business owner herself, Noreen says she wishes she had known about BP10 sooner. 

“It would have given me an opportunity to be more intentional about what kind of help I looked for.”


For now, Noreen is happy to have an opportunity to help economic development directors, university entrepreneurship programs, or anyone thinking about starting a business. She is also interested in working with high school students. She says Gallup is “looking for unicorns” — students with rare builder talents.

“Rare builder talents score high across the board on all 10 business demands. Five out of 1,000 people have rare builder talent. Gallup researchers have been finding young people who exhibit these rare builder talents and investing in their development. 

“When it comes to building businesses, there is no opportunity for those kids to be identified or invested in because nobody is looking for them. Jim said we need to find those people when they’re young and help them develop and nurture those talents so they can go out and start businesses. He said that’s how we’re going to fix the economy.”


Noreen loves the thought of helping fix the economy but says she’s not interested in being a business builder. She asked Jim what the BP10 means for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs like her.

“He said knowing this information will help no matter what size you are. The economy change is going to happen from those builders who are creating jobs. It doesn’t mean that other people can’t take this information and use it and have it help them along the way.”

The BP10 is a 30-minute assessment. People as young as 14 can take it, although Noreen says it is recommended for older students (high school juniors and seniors) and adults. The results of the BP10 are generated quickly, but it requires answering 111 paired questions. 

Yes, more questions, but the answers could mean a more successful business and a small — or significant — part in a healthier economy.