"Entrepreneurs are born not made"
There are two sides to every debate, and the "what makes an entrepreneur" argument has raged for decades with neither side able to conclusively prove their case. There are many who believe that an entrepreneur must possess personality traits such as vision, passion and drive that are innate and cannot be taught. Others argue that the skills of evaluating opportunities, motivating people and operating a business are easily passed on to eager students looking to be entrepreneurs. The truth is that both sides are right and it's time for a compromise: Entrepreneurs are born and made. Some people may be natural entrepreneurs and immediately open a business, others will have studied and trained long and hard before doing so, and while each may enjoy some success, neither will be as successful as the person who possesses the inherent qualities and has spent the time to get and education and experience the business world.
Defining the Entrepreneur
Even before the debate as to how people become entrepreneurs has begun, the argument as to what an entrepreneur is starts. Originally from the French words entre, meaning "between", and prendre, meaning "to take", the French verb, entreprendre means "to undertake". It has evolved into a variety of definitions: "a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognizable value around perceived opportunities" (Bolton and Thompson, 2000) "an individual who creates something of value at a time and place where there was no such thing before" (Blawatt, 1998) "someone who undertakes to organize, manage and assume the risks of a business" (Frederick, et al., 2006) "a person who operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks" (Wikipedia, 2008) While the above definitions cover many traits of the entrepreneur, they beg the question; should success be a requirement? If an entrepreneur has to innovate or create in some way, raise capital, assemble a team, design and launch the product then market it, then the creators of the Ford Edsel, Betamax, New coke, and HD-DVD are all entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, we only know of these products because they all failed in very public ways. When most people think of an entrepreneur they see a successful one, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Richard Branson. No one wanting to be an entrepreneur sets out to fail, so the more complete definition of an entrepreneur that will be used in this paper is: "creating or recognizing a commercial application for something new and converting that opportunity into a viable, profitable business" (Baron and Shane, 2008) Having established what an entrepreneur is, we need to understand the different factors needed to succeed at it.
Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines and a very successful entrepreneur summed it up succinctly when asked how he maintained an entrepreneurial attitude within his company by saying " You hire attitude, everything else can be trained". This maxim has created a workforce that has led Southwest Airlines to 32 consecutive years of profitability, an industry record. He has found that attitude is not something that can be influenced to much degree. People either have it or they don't, and it will be hard to instill the necessary qualities after the fact.
There is also a wide variety of literature on the common characteristics and behaviours of entrepreneurs that relate to personality. Reviewing the works of Frederick et. al. (2007), Sexton and Bowman (1984), Hornaday (1982), Gibb and Ritchie (1981) and Bolton and Thomson (2000) certain qualities appear across the research as to what makes a successful entrepreneur:
drive to achieve/ambition
If these attributes are critical to the success of the entrepreneur how much control does one have over their own...
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