Entrepreneurship · Startups

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

May Sun

August 26th, 2016

There are a lot o opinions on this topic and can't really get my head around the answer. Any guidance would be much appreciate it.

Ema Chuku Designer. Product Developer. Founder @ NuPad

August 26th, 2016

Visionaries are born. Entrepreneurs are made.

Dave Perry Global Business Strategist & Technology Commercialization Consultant

August 26th, 2016

This question is like asking whether musicians are born or made. Of course, there are going to be natural prodigies who can instinctively play nearly every instrument but, for everyone else, training on the fundamentals, techniques … and then lots of practice … will make great music most of the time. The same is true for entrepreneurship! The vast majority of people, who have an interest in creating new and innovative solutions to problems, will benefit from learning the art and the science of entrepreneurship - and their customers, employees and shareholders will be rewarded as well!

Thomas PhD Director of Operations & Growth at Brighterion

August 26th, 2016

I think it depends on your definition of entrepreneur. For me, there is no such thing as a "serial"entrepreneur. ALLentrepreneurs are serial. They are idea machines with the where with all to continually make these ideas become a reality. With this definition in mind, I thinkentrepreneurs are born. There are lots of other "business owners" out there, who had a single idea and built it. These are often "made," in the sense that an idea occurred to them and they made it happen. But, I differentiate "business owner" from "entrepreneur." Of course, the world needs both!

For me, I have had ideas and tried to build them into businesses since I can remember, from selling candy and trinkets in elementary school to building mobile and web apps today. I consider myself anentrepreneur, rather then a business owner.

Ismail Berkan Lean Innovation Consultant | Digital Strategy & Transformation Advisor | Startup Mentor & Coach

August 26th, 2016

According to research by Scott Shane, a professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University, 40% born (genetic) and 60% made. However, entrepreneurship can be both learned and taught to make great entrepreneurs.


August 27th, 2016

Good point Paul Garcia.  \What's an entrepreneur?

The old, "I know it when I see it" is pretty sloppy. I'm a reluctant entrepreneur, and lousy at most of it. I'm motivated by the responsibility to create, not for personal reasons.

The standard methodology in science is first to survey entrepreneurs and categorize the different types of skills, personalities, backgrounds, motivations and the cultures they come out of. And probably much more. 'Like Kinsey did for sex. Until that study was done, no one even knew what they were studying. And they didn't know that they didn't know.

I find this in politics. For 90% of people in politics, their knowledge comes out of experience and mentoring in the current paradigm. Maybe another 9% add a rich knowledge of some history (I have no idea about the actual numbers.) A few political scientists seem to have a rich enough basket of distinctions to think about politics in other cultures and what's possible for people. (And maybe not- maybe this mainly comes from sociology or other places.)

Few, if anyone, looks at what's possible in politics based on what's possible for humans. I didn't even do that. (I looked at what's desirable, and what would be needed to have it, then what would work.)

Much, much more is possible than our inside-the-box thinking allows. It would take real marketing (storytelling, illustration) to lead society to enlarge its thinking. But it could be done easily. My guess is that it would be similar for entrepreneurship. The incubators are a huge new innovation in entrepreneurship. But they're still missing large opportunities for increasing successful entrepreneurship, if that's their goal...

My real question, May Sun, is: Why are you asking the question? Are you wondering if you have what it takes? If you "should" try it? Or maybe looking at the suitability of a friend or an applicant? The answer to this might be very helpful for getting valuable input. 

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

August 26th, 2016

The one trait that I think is common to successful entrepreneurs is that they can sell. A great idea has no value if you can't sell it to the people who will help you realize it. But sales can be learned, just like law, medicine and everything else can be learned. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Successful people play to their strengths.

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

August 26th, 2016

Miguel. Not everyone can sell well enough to beat out the competition.  Wozniak was not an inventor. He started by assembling kits that were advertised in Popular Electronics magazine.  Granted that he modified them after  awhile and that Jobs added marketing panache.  My best friend in the 1970s was a very successful entrepreneur. He defined his motivation as :"guys with a lot of money get the best looking women".  Just a thought to start the weekend.

David Austin

August 26th, 2016

>born or made?

Not "or", but "and". True entrepreneurs are both "born" and "made" as such. Those who have it in their blood, literally have it in their blood, ie - there is a genetic component, but they must also be made, ie. - pay their dues and learn.

Gary Sojka President Emeritus, Professor Emeritus at Bucknell University

August 26th, 2016

Yours is a most important and interesting question that educators have been asking for years.  We at Entremetric have have focused on it for over three years.  We believe that it is possible to learn things that can be helpful to a person starting a business, but our data suggest that there are some people that have implicit tendencies suggesting an entrepreneurial mind set.  There are also those with out such clear cut tendencies.  We provide resources that can help anyone become better prepared to face the challenges of entrepreneurism, but we also provide a way for individuals to determine whether or not their innate tendencies suggest they might be well suited to an entrepreneurial approach to the world of work.
You might want to check out our web site at www.entremetric.com

Ken Anderson Director, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development, Delaware Economic Development Office

August 26th, 2016

The facts seem to suggest that both are true. There is a lot of data that intimates that successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds. Many successful entrepreneurs come from families where neither parent were entrepreneurs. Many did not really engage in anything truly entrepreneurial until college or as a young adult. Many never really envisioned themselves until early adult life having a business. Whether you go to college or not doesn't seem to make a huge difference unless you are starting a business in a tech based field. So if you are looking for a definitive answer, if we are honest, it is probably not to be had.