Are successful entrepreneurs born or made?
Are successful entrepreneurs born or made? This is a specialized version of the age-old question about Nature versus Nurture? Why am I the way that I am? Is it nature? In other words, does it come from my grandparents and my genetic code? Or does it come from nurture, from my parents, and how I was raised? Or it could be based on my birth sign; I’m a Sagittarius. Or the Chinese zodiac: I’m a Tiger. Or maybe it is because of my birth order. I’m a middle child, second eldest and the oldest male. It can make your head spin.
I’m kind of like the character Neo in the Matrix who doesn’t believe in fate because “I like to think that I’m in control of my own life”, even though I know this is not 100 percent true. I like what the famous personal development guru Earl Nightingale said, “Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.”
I recently wrote an article about 15 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs. They are being Smart, Hard Working, Competitive, Tenacious, Adaptive, Passionate, Confident, Visionary, Convincing, Ethical, a Leader, Decisive, Loyal, Direct, and Coachable. Are these things taught or are you born with them? I’d say a lot of them are skills, or learned behaviors that come with lots of practice and focus. Some of these characteristics may come easier for some people, and some of these characteristics come in degrees.
I think there are a lot of analogies to success in business with success in sports. Although the skill sets and required abilities to excel in each are different, there is an overlap in competitiveness, tenacity, and work ethic that are required for success in either. Let’s look at an elite athlete: Tiger Woods. He was clearly born with some natural ability and talent, but he was coached early on by his father. Tiger’s dad worked hard to train Tiger both mentally and physically. Tiger’s physical golf skills and his mental toughness allowed him to become one of the greatest golfers of all time. Tiger developed his talent through a combination of hard work and good coaching. The development of the right muscles, instincts, and muscle memory are essential, as is the developing the mental toughness required to perform under pressure. Golf is a mental game and a physical game. It involves strategy. It involves making tradeoffs of risk versus reward. In that sense, it is a lot like entrepreneurship. Make no mistake, entrepreneurship requires mental toughness and physical stamina.
In my experience, and based on witnessing dozens of entrepreneurs and executives throughout my career, a lot of your success is based on your goals, but also how you deal with adversity and work under pressure. Adversity is inevitable for everyone, but it can be even more prevalent with people that take more risks and make more decisions, like entrepreneurs.
So, to answer the question, are entrepreneurs born or made, I think the answer really is both. It seems that certain people have the right temperament, drive, optimism and risk tolerance to be entrepreneurs, but I cannot say for certain if it is genetic or how these people were raised. If it was from how we were raised, and we remain teachable and coachable, that means we can develop the essential skills. Maybe someone has more natural ability that us, but we can become very capable and very successful in our own right. At the root of all successful entrepreneurship is something that you do because you are passionate about it. Find your passion. Work hard, be open to coaching, and be willing to make sacrifices and stick with things. It won’t guarantee success, but it sure will improve your chances.
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This is Patrick Henry, CEO of QuestFusion, with The Real Deal…What Matters.