The Truth: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Today I read an article by a respected University Director on Entrepreneurship championing the idea that Entrepreneurs are Made not Born. I respectfully disagree –

Here’s my response…

Born or Made? Nurture or Nature?

Great post and great question.

After working day in and day out with Entrepreneurs in a consulting role – I am forced to lean towards the “Born” side of the debate. Entrepreneurs are not government workers – they never will be.

Can they be more successful with training? Absolutely!

But can someone without the Gifts, Mindset, DNA or Passion be successful with the same training? Nope.

Most of the Entrepreneurs I’ve worked with were demonstrating their gifts starting out in elementary school – and definitely before college.

I had the opportunity to work with an experimental “field advertising” unit within P&G’s food division right after college. One of the quirks of this position was we were on the road 6 months at a time – often with 6 – 7 radically different assignments within that time period. At one point, a few of us were sitting around and started going over our backgrounds. We discovered we were clones. All had started little businesses in high-school or college. All of us had been in campus leadership positions at our respective schools. All of us were generalist. All of us had participated in competitive sports.

And you can probably guess what happened. Within 6 months of being hired many of these people had started their own businesses – some where actually running mail order businesses from hotel rooms as they traveled across the country while working for P&G.

Oops! P&G had spent considerable resources hiring probably the worst employees you could get.

Compare that to the former VP of Ford’s Bronco division who said he’d help me with my resume. He took one look at it, looked up at me and lowered his glasses and said, “I wouldn’t hire you. You’ll be sitting in an office 6 months from now, look out the window and be gone.”

Work with Entrepreneurs. Then work with the accountants they hire. I think the “Born” argument will gain just a little more credibility.

1 thought on “The Truth: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?”

  1. I would also say fate, luck, fortitude, universal laws of privilege and legacy also play a part as well. While I don’t argue it takes a certain type of personality to want to play God and the Devil at the same time – ie., create some then tempt the word with it – I find it incredibly difficult to believe that Gates would have created Microsoft or Jobs would have created Apple’s Mac if the two had been born just a tad bit earlier say in the 1940s and come of age when computers were big slabs of metal using cumbersome punch cards. Their amazing innovations in personal computing was due some some pretty amazing computation researchers of the 1960s who theorized about what they built, ie., graphical user interface, mouse-directed navigation, personal computing etc.
    But on the whole I think you’re right. No entrepreneur ever sat in a classroom to learn something he innately felt was already in her. Still I wish I knew what the word meant when I growing up on the south side of Chicago. When everyone in your family telling you that you’d never get a loan, never could do it own your own because a world like this one doesn’t favor your kind it’s tough to seize the proverbial day as it were. At my first job there were NO clones of me. NO ONE was like me, had my background or my upbringing – i was a pioneer.
    I knew in my heart I never wanted to work for the city, government or anyone else that demanded 30 years of my life. But my parents were adamant that I be as miserable – in their eyesight secure – as they were. So I spent a fair amount of time playing it straight. But I always had what we in the hood called a side hustle.I started writing in elementary school and by the time I got to high school I was selling lame romance stories that are utterly harmless but were spicy back then considering I went to an all-girl Catholic school. I typed them double spaced and sold them for 10cent a pop. I was like 14 years old and the feeling of creating something that a. someone wanted and b. was willing to pay for blew me away. I never forgot it. Sure I went the tradition route but part of me always resented working my behind off for someone else. Now at 40 I’m finally creating my dream and well I couldn’t be happier.

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