Small Business

Entrepreneurs: born or made?

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It’s the classic nature versus nurture debate – are entrepreneurs born or made? Now global tax and advisory firm Ernst & Young has given their two cents. The recent report ‘Nature or nurture: decoding the entrepreneur’ surveyed 685 entrepreneurs worldwide to determine common characteristics inherent in their success.

And the results are in: all signs point to entrepreneurs being groomed as leaders, rather than born with a flag and vision. Nearly 60 per cent of entrepreneurs surveyed previously worked in a corporate environment before setting out on their own, with one-third (the highest ranking) indicating their time as an employee was key to the success of their venture. Thirty per cent said higher education played an important role and 26 per cent gave credit to mentors.

“Entrepreneurial leaders are defined as much by their early business experience, cultural background and external environment as they are by any innate personal characteristics,” says Maria Pinelli, global vice chair of strategic growth markets at Ernst & Young. “Nurture not nature does appear to be more important in shaping the entrepreneurial mindset.”

It seems entrepreneurship is an addictive pursuit with 10 per cent of entrepreneurs having started a hefty 10 or more companies! Overall, 60 per cent of those surveyed had started three or more companies, and 20 per cent had started six or more. Forty-five per cent went on to state they still retained a stake in each of their businesses.

And while all signs point to nurture winning out over nature in the entrepreneurial stakes, there were some characteristics the respondents shared across the board. Of the three most important qualities of an entrepreneurial leader, more than three-quarters said having a vision was crucial, 73 per cent said passion and 64 per cent said drive. Flexibility (33 per cent), a commitment to quality (18 per cent) and loyalty (14 per cent) were also given the nod as important to entrepreneurial success. 

“These findings highlight that most successful entrepreneurs share a unique combination of seeing opportunity where others see only risk,” says Pinelli. “They tend to be optimists and believe they can succeed despite the fact that everyone else is telling them they cannot.”

Published on: Saturday, June 04, 2011

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