What makes an entrepreneur?

By Naomi Boshari.

The nature versus nurture debate is a long standing one – the influence of both are basically the foundation behind who each of us are. There’s a consensus that, for the majority of cases, both environment and genetics play an even role in someone’s life. We think of these things in terms of athletic and academic ability, personality, people’s hobbies and interests. But what if you were told that genetics and environment could influence your likelihood to become a successful entrepreneur?

Maybe you could go and complain to your parents that if they’d raised you differently you’d be in the top 30 under 30 by now. Or maybe you’ll give them a big hug for forcing you to sit outside with your lemonade stand every Saturday until you filled up that mason jar with quarters. Maybe it’s something to think about when you’re deciding to stay in that long term relationship and have a family with Brad the bass guitarist of an indie rock band who dropped out of high school to try and make it big.

In a study from the Journal of Applied Psychology on the Big Five personality traits, genetics and the tendency to be self-employed, they found a correlation between extraversion and openness to experience and the tendency to be an entrepreneur. The results showed that it’s the inheritance of certain personality traits that make someone more likely to have entrepreneurial tendency rather than have an “entrepreneurial gene”. That being said, genetics isn’t enough to determine wholly if someone’s going to be a successful entrepreneur.

Teachers and parents can hone these traits by creating activities for children to engage in for which these traits are required. Kids can be brought up in an environment where extraversion and openness to experience are encouraged. Even at the university age, who you are isn’t set in stone. Focus on building those skills that will give you the confidence to take risks and pursue your unique ideas. Maybe it’s not totally hopeless for you and Brad the bassist after all, so long as the two of you foster an environment that facilitates the traits necessary for entrepreneurial development.

If you want to read more on the study check out this link to the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Dobson Chronicles

Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.