Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Patrick Mahinge
Are entrepreneurs born or made? It is a question that has intrigued us for the better part of our lives as entrepreneurs. There is no doubt that you have had those doubtful moments when you question whether you have what it really takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Fortunately, scientific research and numerous essays have the answer for you.
Is successful entrepreneurship a result of of nature or nurture?
The Charles Darwin nature versus nurture debate has suddenly found a place in the business world following numerous research findings that indicate entrepreneurs are born and wired that way, and not necessarily made.
The new research findings indicate that success in business entrepreneurship is largely determined by the genetic makeup of an individual.
In the words of Lord Alan Sugar, ‘It doesn’t matter which business school, workshops or seminars you attended or what books you have read. Entrepreneurial spirit is inborn, not modeled.’
The research has gone on to identify a gene by the name of e-gene that is responsible for the entrepreneurial spirit. Individuals with this gene have at least one of the following six distinct characteristics:
- A difficult, financially-constrained background
- A member of a minority or disadvantaged group in the society
- Risk-lover and overoptimistic
- Independent and socially distinct
- Possess a desire for achievement power
The research gives examples of famous entrepreneurs including Richard Branson who possesses four of the named characteristics (disability, optimistic risk-taker, independent and socially distinct and has a desire for power and achievement).
Characteristics of Born Entrepreneurs
Born entrepreneurs are hard-wired to accept exploratory risks than others are. They will rely more on their intuition to make drastic decisions; decisions which other people would normally consider irrational. They also possess the ability to maintain faith (optimism) even in the most uncertain circumstances.
In their bestselling book, Born, Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality James Koch and James L. Fisher portray the born entrepreneur as a loner and a hard worker who spends most of his hours working.
The born entrepreneurs are not devoted to decisions made in consensus. They simply do not flow with the tide. They are in constant opposition with the status quo and they have a hard time accepting defeat and losses. All these are characteristics implanted in the genetic makeup of individuals and are the basis of the school of thought that believes entrepreneurs are born, not made.
The research also shows that born entrepreneurs are driven by the need for power and becoming independent. Financial gains and profit are the least of their motivating factors.
These findings put to the test everything that you might have believed in as an entrepreneur. They will make you question whether there is any need for business schools or whether business schools should include DNA cheek swab tests for the entrepreneurship gene as part of their application requirements.
One also wonders why even the most successful entrepreneurs need to pore over every little case study and motivational material they come around.
If entrepreneurship success were based on genetic factors, wouldn’t it be enough for the ‘lucky’ entrepreneurs to solely rely on this genetic makeup in their day-to-day business activities and success?
The Case to Support Born Entrepreneurs
James V. Koch who is a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk and co-author of a bestselling book, Born Not Made: The entrepreneurial Personality, asserts that some personality traits are more suited for entrepreneurships while others are a complete call for disasters in business. Shane Scott, the author of Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders, echoes similar sentiments as the James.
James is however quick to add that even with this genetic makeup that endears a person to entrepreneurship, persons will still need to gain entrepreneurial knowledge through experience, observation or schooling.
Consequently, if you want to know a person who is most likely to become successful as an entrepreneur, you do not have to look at the person who has achieved the highest academic qualifications. You simply have to look at their personalities.
If Entrepreneurs are Born, Is There Any Need for Business Schools?
There is always a place for learning and training. Even the best athletes (read the Kalenjins of Rift Valley, Kenya) have to train hard despite being endowed with genes that make them better athletes.
Business schools equip the born entrepreneurs with accounting, commerce and economic skills. Business schools will however not turn a person who does not have an appetite for risks in his genes into an entrepreneur. Trying to change a person who does not have entrepreneurship skills into an entrepreneur is an uphill task that very few professors can accomplish.
On the other hand, while individuals can be born with genes that favourably predispose them to be serial entrepreneurs but if these skills are not coaxed and nurtured, there is no way they can miraculously turn into successful entrepreneurs.
Do you subject to the class of thought that maintains that entrepreneurs are born, not made? I would love to hear your thoughts. Kindly leave your comments below.