Is this another one of life’s great unanswerable questions? Or is the answer in plain sight?
Anyone can start a business and label themselves as entrepreneurs. However, most businesses fail, which makes me wonder whether the world’s super successful entrepreneurs have a unique entrepreneurial gene that the rest of us mere mortals have to live without. Or, can you learn how to be a super successful entrepreneur, whether it runs in the family or not?
I did a little research of my own and looked at what some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet have to say about the born or made debate. Not only that, but I also discuss real research on the topic and explore the key characteristics of a truly successful entrepreneur.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
What do successful entrepreneurs believe?
Two successful entrepreneurs who are on ‘team born’ include Lord Alan Sugar and Gary Vaynerchuk. Shocking, I know. Imagine Lord Alan Sugar and Gary Vaynerchuk on an episode of The Apprentice together? Anyway, Lord Alan Sugar says, “There is no such thing as entrepreneur juice that you can buy from Boots. So, you’re either born with entrepreneurial gifts or not.”
It’s crystal clear what Lord Alan Sugar believes, but what has Gary Vaynerchuk got to say on this topic? He believes that you need to have the hustle and drive to succeed, which you are born with. You cannot be taught those things, according to Gary Vaynerchuk.
On the other side of the debate, we’ve got Robert Green, Tom Bilyeu, Duncan Bannatyne, and Peter Drucker. All of these people believe that successful entrepreneurs can be made. However, there are a few super successful entrepreneurs who sit somewhere in the middle.
Richard Branson was asked whether entrepreneurs are born or made. He said that everyone is born an entrepreneur, but only a few do something about it. Theo Paphitis from the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den claims that there are different entrepreneurial levels. He calls them the “levels of entrepreneurs” and believes that your level depends on how far you want to go as an entrepreneur. He more or less said that some entrepreneurs are born, and others are made.
Patrick Bet-David took it a step further and said that anyone could be a “meh” entrepreneur. They aren’t amazing, but they aren’t terrible, either. They’re just average. However, to be the most outstanding entrepreneur you can be, you must have been born one.
What does the research say about the born or made debate?
We know what some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs think, but what does the research say on the subject?
I did some digging (okay, a lot of digging) and found some interesting studies on the topic of whether successful entrepreneurs are born or made. I discovered that research finds that entrepreneurs are born. However, successful entrepreneurs are made.
It’s a little confusing, so let’s break it down. The education system is against entrepreneurship. They may not say it out loud, but we are taught to do well from a very young age. Don’t fail your exam, or you won’t get into college. Don’t take risks at work, or you’re fired. We are taught to conform, and we are taught to fear failure.
However, entrepreneurs take risks. Risks are a massive part of being an entrepreneur because there can’t be any success without risks. As children, we grow up fearing risks and failure, and the idea of entrepreneurship is intimidating. On the other hand, children who grow up in families with entrepreneurs are much more likely to become entrepreneurs themselves because they have not been taught to fear risks.
Some people who are born into entrepreneurship will be successful. They receive good mentorship, and they understand business, so they succeed. But, the majority of research shows that most successful entrepreneurs are made. They’re the ones that fail and try again. They seek out mentors to help them, and they have the determination to keep going no matter what.
What traits and skillsets do you need to be a successful entrepreneur?
Successful entrepreneurs need skillsets. This can be anything from graphic design to engineering skills, musical skills, and so on. You can learn a skill or a trade that enables you to prove a service or solution for someone else. That’s your skillset.
When it comes to personality traits that successful entrepreneurs must have, things get a little fuzzy. However, one essential characteristic that a successful entrepreneur needs to have is the ability to take risks. I’m not suggesting that you risk everything without a second thought. I’m talking about taking calculated risks that you’ve thought about and planned for accordingly.
Resilience is essential too. If you fail, you need to be resilient enough to get back up again and keep going. The next must-have trait is adaptability. Things don’t always go as planned, and when that happens, you must adapt quickly, pivot, and change the direction of your business.
David Goggins is the perfect example of somebody who has all of these traits. He was once very depressed, afraid of water, and he weighed 300 pounds. He went from that to a lean, mean machine of a Navy SEAL. He stopped letting his fears get in his way, and his mindset did a complete 180 and transformed entirely. David wasn’t born with all of those traits. He learned them and built his resilience over time.
If David can do all of that, why can’t we as entrepreneurs do the same?
Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Entrepreneurs are born, and they are made. You are born to be the type of entrepreneur you are meant to be. You might be a hustler or an imitator. You might be the buyer or the innovator. There are many different types of entrepreneurs, and you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. You just need the right skill sets and conditions to help you succeed.
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