Thinking point: are entrepreneurs born or made…?

When we began publishing First Voice, the magazine for members of the Federation of Small Businesses, we naturally joined the organisation to get the inside track and make sure we knew what was really going on!

As a small business ourselves we’ve enjoyed being ‘in the club’ and enjoying the member benefits. We’ve also met some great people and attended some inspirational events.

I attended my local branch annual meeting last week and think I’ve managed to volunteer myself onto the committee (how did that happen?!).

After the formalities, around 30 local businesspeople gathered for a panel debate on the question in the headline above:  Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Personally, I’ve always believed the entrepreneurial spark is in the genes but that’s not to say you have to be an entrepreneur to run a successful business.

Circumstances led me to set up my company 25 years ago rather than a desperate desire to do my own thing, and the fact that we’re still here after all this time tends to support this view.

An entrepreneur is not necessarily the inventor or the original ideas person; they’re not necessarily great with spreadsheets, figures, systems and processes; and they’re definitely not always a good manager or people person. 

But they will have a real vision of success and a passion for the big picture; a bullish attitude to risk; a focused and single-minded determination to succeed and absolutely no fear of failure.

You can’t teach that stuff. These are personality traits.

However, there was another view expressed from the floor that got me thinking.

Epigenetics suggests that genes can be altered by environmental and life experiences. The explanation was that we are like a library and how we turn out depends on what books we take out.

Not sure if or how this advances the argument, but it’s a fascinating idea… 


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