If you’ve often wondered how some people rise to the top, despite having very humble or modest, lower-to-middle class upbringing, while others born of inherited wealth rarely sustain their family birthright, then these findings should interest you. Unexpected research suggests most entrepreneurs born with a specific gene are more likely to start a business.
First, you may know who these genetically predisposed entrepreneurs are even from grade school. They are the driven ones; the kids who may seem harder on themselves when experiencing failures. They are motivated, intelligent, and inherently curious. They might even seem misunderstood, but to the parents who can nurture the ‘spark’ within these young, restless minds, the sky is the limit.
The Born vs. Made Entrepreneurs Debate
Author Scott Shane – who wrote ‘Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life’ – and who is also a professor of entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University – did a study of several hundred sets of twins. In one group, Scott and fellow colleagues studied identical twins who shared 100% of their genes, while in the other group were pairs of fraternal twins who shared 50% of their genes. His discovery was that 30-40% of the identical twins shared entrepreneurial characteristics, which was a rate much higher than previously thought.
Some of the twins did admit to having parents that encouraged their skills to flourish. For example, one of the adult serial entrepreneurs recalled helping their father in the family restaurant. He felt that if his parents had just left him to sit and play video games all day, perhaps those entrepreneurial skills would have never kicked in.
So, what is the gene that most entrepreneurs are born with?
It is extroversion. In other words, being an extrovert is one of the gene characteristics shared by many entrepreneurs. The study also found four fundamental qualities of entrepreneurship:
- Although this alone is not a predicator of entrepreneurship tendency, it is a gene shared by most. It makes sense, since most extroverts have an easier time engaging, networking, leading and ‘doing’.
- Attracted to self-employment life. Most entrepreneurs are not content with working for someone else indefinitely, especially when they feel their skills can be better spent making themselves wealthy, rather than their “bosses” at a company.
- Likely to start a business. Many adult entrepreneurs have stories of businesses they started when they were children, even if most of them failed.
- Able to identify opportunities as they come along. People who are born to be entrepreneurs often see new opportunities that others who take the ‘safe road’ would be more skeptical or afraid to pursue.
What is the success rate of entrepreneurs who are born with this gene?
Another completely different study conducted by Kathryn Shaw, a professor from Stanford Graduate School of Business, reviewed statistics pulled from 2.8 million small businesses. Her goal was to determine not only if there was a specific gene that most entrepreneurs were born with, but to reveal the success rate.
Hence, the question is slightly different here. Rather than asking if most entrepreneurs are born or made, her study wondered about the probability of success. Surprisingly (but not shockingly), she found that the success rates were much higher among entrepreneurs who had prior experience in management and/or running a business, vs. those who were simply ‘born with it’.
Regardless of your birthright position of becoming an entrepreneur, this is not to say that anyone can develop the business skills and acumen necessary to become an entrepreneur. A good one? Well, that is entirely up to you.
It may be wise to take some courses if you wish to take the next step in becoming a successful entrepreneur.