01 Aug Are entrepreneurs born or raised?
When it comes to the world of entrepreneurship, the age-old question often arises: ‘Are entrepreneurs born or raised?’ While it might be tempting to believe that some individuals have a natural flair for business, recent findings tell a more nuanced story. As it turns out, the nurturing environment, guidance, and support you provide as a parent can significantly fuel your child’s entrepreneurial spirit. So, join us as we embark on this exciting exploration to understand the influence of nurture in shaping the successful entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
What makes an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs are an impressively diverse lot, hailing from various backgrounds, carrying different perspectives, and cultivating unique approaches to business. You’ll find them in bustling city skyscrapers and quiet home offices alike, proving that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ blueprint for entrepreneurship.
Despite this diversity, several common threads weave their way through successful entrepreneurs, creating a tapestry of shared characteristics. They often showcase an unyielding resilience, innovative thinking, a penchant for risk-taking, and an unflappable commitment to their vision. These traits beg an intriguing question: are these qualities innate, coded in the DNA of these dynamic individuals, or are they cultivated over time, honed by a nurturing environment and strategic guidance? Let’s take a closer look.
Are entrepreneurs born or raised?
The question then comes down to whether or not these entrepreneurial qualities come naturally and, therefore, individuals are born with these traits or if it’s more down to nurture. The first interesting thing to look at is that entrepreneurship does tend to run in families, as does other professions. But this doesn’t add weigh to either side of the argument.
Whilst there might be some genetic disposition to be intelligent, a risk-taker and highly resourceful, these are also likely to have been nurtured by their parents or other family members. Role models have consistently shown to be hugely important in entrepreneurial success and family connections can be incredibly valuable to an early-stage business owner.
Some personality traits feel like they’re genetic or, at least, that we’re born that way. Our genes do play a part in defining who we are. Several character traits may have a genetic influence according to studies, including:
Extraversion and introversion: Your child’s level of sociability and their tendency to turn inwards or outwards might have genetic roots.
Neuroticism: Some people naturally have a higher tendency towards emotional instability.
Openness to experience: Innate curiosity, creativity, and intellectual pursuits could partially be written in their genes.
Novelty seeking: An attraction to new experiences and risks can be influenced by genetics.
Altruism and empathy: These complex traits that drive human connection could also be partially heritable.
Addictive behaviours: While not a character trait in the traditional sense, the susceptibility to addictive behaviours can have genetic underpinnings.
Remember, however, that these traits are not solely determined by genetics, nor are they unchangeable. The beauty of human nature lies in our adaptability. While genetics may lay down a foundation, the environment, life experiences, and nurturing can significantly shape, develop, and even transform these traits over time. In essence, the ‘genetic hand’ we’re dealt at birth is just the beginning of the game.
There are many characteristics that relate to someone being an entrepreneur, many of which we’ve touched on. All of these characteristics can be nurtured, preparing kids for what lies ahead, but also giving them the best chance of being successful should they want to start a business.
To develop the skills and traits most relevant to entrepreneurship, check out our piece on helping your child be more enterprising. We’ve also compiled a whole list of the characteristics kids need for a successful future and how to develop them.
Thoughts from a millionaire investor
Dragons’ Den star James Caan once wrote:
More often than not entrepreneurs tend to be risk-takers by nature and are willing to take a gamble on a business or a product. So it’s unsurprising that not all people are born with the ability to become an entrepreneur and take those risks. The vast majority of people prefer the security of settled work and a regular salary rather than the high risk approach. This is perfectly acceptable of course, but I have always been someone who prefers to swim against the tide.
Thanks in part to my upbringing I wanted to get involved in business from a very early age and there was never any doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do.
What do you notice? He uses phrases such as:
risk-takers by nature
born with the ability to become an entrepreneur
I have always been someone who prefers to swim against the tide
But Mr Caan follows these up with:
Thanks in part to my upbringing I wanted to get involved in business from a very early age…
So was he born entrepreneur or was he brought up an entrepreneur?
Now, if you read the story of how the idea for the Clever Tykes series was brought about (here), you will see that Mr Caan is not alone in having an entrepreneurial upbringing or, at least, having some exposure to that kind of behaviour and mindset. I am highly sceptical that anyone is ‘born’ a businessperson; it is our experiences that shape who we are. Of course, some of us may be born with some characteristics which may lend themselves to being an entrepreneur if nurtured correctly.
So, for people in ‘secure’ jobs with regular salaries, there are some psychological barriers to overcome when deciding whether to start a business. Are we stuck in a cycle? Most people get jobs, therefore most people bring up children who naturally aspire to emulate their parents. Where will they find their entrepreneurial experiences or inspiration? These children grow up wanting to land a secure job, have a family, and so forth.
Regardless of a child’s upbringing, whether they have a parent who started a business or not, they need to have some introduction to entrepreneurship to give them the skills and mindset required. The education system prepares people for a life in a career job with a ‘regular’ salary.
It is only once we realise we must adopt a grass-roots approach to entrepreneurship that we will revolutionise the way people see business and increase the accessibility to everyone. The Clever Tykes storybooks have been penned for children between 6 and 9 years old to show them, from an early age, that starting a business is a possible option for them. Besides, even if someone grows up and doesn’t start their own business, enterprising traits are useful in all walks of life.