The age-old argument between entrepreneurs being made or born continues – and probably will do for long in the future. Our view at Mashauri is that anyone can be an entrepreneur. In fact many people are forced into this journey through necessity rather than desire – and many are successful despite not having the right “genes”.
However, we do believe there are certain personality traits (rather than personality types) that will make it easier for some than others. The three main ones are around risk propensity, self-belief and the way opportunities are viewed. If you want to know whether you have the type of personality that will help you to be a successful entrepreneur, take our test at:
One of the better (non-academic) articles written on the subject was published by The Entrepreneur magazine called “Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?” They asked 2 experts to put forward the conflicting views:
James V. Koch from Old Dominion University who wrote a book on the topic put forward the “born” argument. His view is that entrepreneurs tend to have a personality type which he describes as:
“They have the ability to deal with uncertainty, to take risks and tolerate ambiguity. They usually have a personality that is mercurial, and they have highs that are really high and lows that are really low. There’s good evidence that they have strong self-confidence but also tend to be overoptimistic. They rely extensively on their own intuition.”
Fundamentally he questions whether entrepreneurship can be taught and that without this personality type, it will be difficult to fit in the role as an entrepreneur.
Julian Lange from Babson College argues the “entrepreneurs are made” point. He does not deny that there are certain proclivities that help, but he believes education can play an important role.
“I think much of the recent research shows that entrepreneurship can be taught. The thing that some people talking about genetics are getting at is that people have different proclivities toward entrepreneurship and different sets of skills or endowments intellectually. Maybe, simply put, you can’t teach someone to be passionate about entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and in my experience people can definitely discover their passion for entrepreneurship in the classroom. And in terms of general skills, if they start out with interests or endowments that make them more likely to be entrepreneurs or less likely, you can enhance their ability to be entrepreneurs through teaching. In some ways we can say there is a certain element of entrepreneurs that are born, not made. But some entrepreneurs can be made better.”
His conclusion is that education on entrepreneurship can make a real difference.
If you want to read the article, it can be found at: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?
As a professor at IE Business School, I sometimes give a lecture entitled “MBA versus entrepreneur” which highlights the way that the entrepreneurial thought and decision making process is different to a more corporate-type of person. This is slightly more scientific as it is based on solid research by Professor Saras Sarasvathy. It also supports the view that there are certain characteristics that, if you have them, will make it easier for you to be successful as a new company founder. (If you would like to have this lecture given at your organisation, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org )
So why not go ahead, take our entrepreneurial assessment and see whether you have what it takes.