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Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?
Monday, 8 October 2018

This may be one of the biggest questions that we are hearing, especially since the world we live in supports entrepreneurs like never before. However, the answer to this question, whether entrepreneurship is in our genes or it is something we can learn, is not an easy one. What it boils down to, and experts focus on, are the characteristics and skills that successful entrepreneurs have and if these qualities can be taught or not. [1]

In this article published by Entrepreneur Magazine we are treated to the prospective of two academics who have opposing (yet not contradictory) views on the subject. The first, James V. Koch, believes that believes that both genetic and environmental factors impact a person’s ability to be a successful entrepreneur. However, he believes that the personality trait for risk is essential for individuals who are going to succeed as entrepreneurs, and that this is something that is hard to teach.  [1]

With an opposite point of view is Julian Lange. While this professor does believe that there are specific things that are difficult or impossible to teach (such as passion and risk), they are traits that can be discovered and developed within the classroom. In addition, while he does value risk, there are other skills that are equally if not more important for entrepreneurs such as opportunity recognition. [1]

While these expert opinions help us understand the background, it is also important to take into account that several scientific studies that prove relationships between family ties and entrepreneurial success. For example, that the tendencies to be an entrepreneur and to be able to identify new business opportunities are heritable. [2] However, to these statements, any social scientists would question the impact that the environment and society have on this (i.e. if a young child sees her father in an entrepreneurial situation, it is possible that she develops this tendency by copying him and not through genetics [3])

The conclusion that professors, scientists, CEOs, etc. seem to reach is that yes, there are certain traits that we are either born with or skills we develop from a young age; however, no entrepreneur can be successful without working on him- or herself.  Whether it is through classes or taking risks, personal and professional development are essential if an entrepreneur is to succeed. [4]

[1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228273
[2] https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/literally-born-entrepreneurs
[3] https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/introducing-a-ceos-journey
[4] https://www.inc.com/michael-gerber/are-entrepreneurs-born-or-made.html