MYTH BUSTING—ENTREPRENEURS BORN THAT WAY OR MADE?
Larry Rottmeyer, PhD, Director of Innovation Education, The NIIC
One of the interesting debates regarding entrepreneurs is whether they are born or made. This debate is sometimes known as the “nature or nurture” question. It is an interesting question, and there are some good points to be made on both sides of the issue.
To some extent, many entrepreneurs indeed have certain qualities or characteristics from birth. Supporters argue that you cannot teach or learn entrepreneurship in something so rooted in personality. The qualities for the “entrepreneurs are born” arguments are often based on personality traits or characteristics closely associated with such traits. These qualities include decisive, energetic, extremely passionate, strong-willed, intuitive, persistent, persuasive, risk-taking, and tenacity.
In some cases, a future entrepreneur is born into a family that has its own business. So, it is natural for that person to pursue entrepreneurship – business building runs in the family. Startup resources already exist. Thus, the business building passes through generations.
The case for “entrepreneurs are made” is also strong. Many vital entrepreneurial qualities can be cited from experiences. Commonly cited qualities that are learned include leadership, teamwork, integrity, organization, discipline, adaptability, future focus, promotion, and many functional business skills. Proponents argue that such qualities and skills are essential to successful new business ventures and are learned through life experiences.
The reality is many entrepreneurs exist, and they come from a variety of personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. There are many different entrepreneurial ideas, and there is no one route to entrepreneurship. Clearly, some are born with a desire to create ventures and have inherent qualities that make them successful entrepreneurs. Others learn and acquire the qualities along the way.
Possibly of most importance, while being born with certain traits and characteristics may contribute to starting a new business, additional experiences provide needed skills that contribute to building a successful new business.
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