Entrepreneurship – nature or nurture?

I’d like to start by drawing your attention to an article I came across on LinkedIn which James Caan posted recently on entrepreneurship. The post outlines some of the barriers facing people who are not “born with the ability to be an entrepreneur” when starting their own business and offers some wise words. I agree that most people prefer a secure job offering a regular salary and that these people struggle to find the confidence to take the leap over to the ‘other side’. Taken from top of the article:

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.

James Caan Clever Tykes entrepreneurship

What do you notice? I notice 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…

Right. So there’s a bit of a disconnect here – 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.

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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, 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. Mr Caan, himself, mentioned he “wanted to get involved in business from a very early age” so we must re-educate society far earlier than when people have been through school and university and are fully prepared for a life in a 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 5 and 11 years old because when children begin expanding their knowledge of the world and start forming their opinions on what they want to do when they’re older, starting a business needs to be a viable option. Besides, even if someone grows up and doesn’t start their own business, enterprising traits are useful in all walks of life.

Read our top tips to help your child be more enterprising here.

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