- Term Papers and Free Essays

Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made

Essay by   •  June 10, 2011  •  2,083 Words (9 Pages)  •  3,055 Views

Essay Preview: Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made

Report this essay
Page 1 of 9


"Entrepreneurs are born not made"

There are two sides to every debate, and the "what makes an entrepreneur" argument has raged for decades with neither side able to conclusively prove their case. There are many who believe that an entrepreneur must possess personality traits such as vision, passion and drive that are innate and cannot be taught. Others argue that the skills of evaluating opportunities, motivating people and operating a business are easily passed on to eager students looking to be entrepreneurs. The truth is that both sides are right and it's time for a compromise: Entrepreneurs are born and made. Some people may be natural entrepreneurs and immediately open a business, others will have studied and trained long and hard before doing so, and while each may enjoy some success, neither will be as successful as the person who possesses the inherent qualities and has spent the time to get and education and experience the business world.

Defining the Entrepreneur

Even before the debate as to how people become entrepreneurs has begun, the argument as to what an entrepreneur is starts. Originally from the French words entre, meaning "between", and prendre, meaning "to take", the French verb, entreprendre means "to undertake". It has evolved into a variety of definitions:

"a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognizable value around perceived opportunities" (Bolton and Thompson, 2000)

"an individual who creates something of value at a time and place where there was no such thing before" (Blawatt, 1998)

"someone who undertakes to organize, manage and assume the risks of a business" (Frederick, et al., 2006)

"a person who operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks" (Wikipedia, 2008)

While the above definitions cover many traits of the entrepreneur, they beg the question; should success be a requirement? If an entrepreneur has to innovate or create in some way, raise capital, assemble a team, design and launch the product then market it, then the creators of the Ford Edsel, Betamax, New coke, and HD-DVD are all entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, we only know of these products because they all failed in very public ways. When most people think of an entrepreneur they see a successful one, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Richard Branson. No one wanting to be an entrepreneur sets out to fail, so the more complete definition of an entrepreneur that will be used in this paper is:

"creating or recognizing a commercial application for something new and converting that opportunity into a viable, profitable business" (Baron and Shane, 2008)

Having established what an entrepreneur is, we need to understand the different factors needed to succeed at it.

Personal Qualities

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines and a very successful entrepreneur summed it up succinctly when asked how he maintained an entrepreneurial attitude within his company by saying " You hire attitude, everything else can be trained". This maxim has created a workforce that has led Southwest Airlines to 32 consecutive years of profitability, an industry record. He has found that attitude is not something that can be influenced to much degree. People either have it or they don't, and it will be hard to instill the necessary qualities after the fact.

There is also a wide variety of literature on the common characteristics and behaviours of entrepreneurs that relate to personality. Reviewing the works of Frederick et. al. (2007), Sexton and Bowman (1984), Hornaday (1982), Gibb and Ritchie (1981) and Bolton and Thomson (2000) certain qualities appear across the research as to what makes a successful entrepreneur:

* drive to achieve/ambition

* perseverance, determination

* confidence

* optimistic attitude

* creativity

If these attributes are critical to the success of the entrepreneur how much control does one have over their own personality? The born-made debate and nature-nurture argument have been researched and argued for decades. Some psychological models assert that a proportion of our personality is inborn and permanent (Hollander, 1971), that a psychological core at the center of our personality gives us enduring, inner characteristics. Hans Eysenck (1965) suggests that our motivation and emotion are related to biological differences in brain function and proposed that 75% of our personality is based on genetic influence and 25% on environmental influence. Research by Peter Whybrow (1999) on identical twins separated at birth examined how their different environments shaped their personalities. He found that around 40% of personality should be credited to genetics, with 60% determined by outside factors.

It is widely agreed that certain personality traits are important to being a successful entrepreneur. If we are not born with those innate characteristics, psychologists believe that we do have some ability to adopt new ones or influence ourselves to a certain degree.

Another example of the need to be born to be an entrepreneur comes from a study conducted on of more than 200 U.S. entrepreneurs by Northeastern University's School of Technological Entrepreneurship where 61% claim "they were inspired to start their own companies by their innate desire and determination, rather than by their education or work experience" (Taylor, 2006). Other factors cited were work experience (21 percent) and success of entrepreneurial peers within their industry (16 percent) and only 1% said higher education.


Most would agree that simply having the personality traits of an entrepreneur does not a success make. Respondents in a survey of 100 chief executives from entrepreneurial firms believed that "while personality traits are difficult to influence, the vast majority of knowledge required by entrepreneurs can be taught" (Hood and Young, 1993). Additional support for this view comes from a ten year (1985-1994) literature review of entrepreneurship and business education that showed "...most of the empirical studies surveyed indicated that entrepreneurship can be taught, or at least encouraged, by entrepreneurship



Download as:   txt (13.5 Kb)   pdf (155.5 Kb)   docx (14.7 Kb)  
Continue for 8 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 06). Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made. Retrieved 06, 2011, from

"Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made" 06 2011. 2011. 06 2011 <>.

"Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made.", 06 2011. Web. 06 2011. <>.

"Entrepreneurs Are Born And Made." 06, 2011. Accessed 06, 2011.