Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?
This is a question that’s been on my mind lately. Is entrepreneurship a learned skill, or is it something that some people simply ‘have’.
We all hear stories of entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, or Ruslan Kogan who were starting their first ‘business ventures’ before their teenage years.
These people clearly were born with entrepreneurial tendencies, or had them instilled in them from a young age.
And on the other hand, there are successful entrepreneurs that held regular jobs until their 30s or 40s, before trying their hand at business.
Perhaps these people always were innovators and had entrepreneurial tendencies, but due to a high aversion to risk never ventured out on their own until they were financially secure.
There are a few skills in my opinion that most successful entrepreneurs seem to share:
– High levels of risk tolerance
– They’re innovators
– They’re action takers
– Great work ethic
– They have unrealistic, large goals
You will find these skills or personality traits in just about every successful entrepreneur, although their business acumen may vary. Some will be good at doing hands-on tasks, some will be good at outsourcing, some will be people persons, others will be introverts. But still, all will be good at knowing what their weaknesses are, and hiring people who possess the skills that they lack.
I feel that some entrepreneurial skills are innate, whilst others can be developed and learned.
For example, some people are naturally good with people and can easily manage and motivate. For others this can be a challenge – but with practice this is a skill that can definitely be developed.
So in a sense, an entrepreneur can improve their skills and become a better and more successful business-person with the right practice.
So, what is the answer? Are entrepreneurs born or made?
I think that first, entrepreneurs are born. The desire to go out on their own, challenge themselves, the desire to dream bigger than everyone else, and the high tolerance for risk are all things that are innate. People will possess these traits on different levels, but I believe they do exist in everybody who decides to try their hand at business – for the right reasons that is.
After a person bites the bullet and decides to embrace the entrepreneurial tendencies they possess, there are skills they can develop that will help them to improve as an entrepreneur. So in a sense, I believe that entrepreneurs are both born AND made.
Growing up, I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. I didn’t know the word, and wasn’t exposed to any great entrepreneurs.
My dad was working in finance, and was quite successful in his career. He had been to university for many years to study commerce, complete his CPA, and then later his MBA.
The model that I was exposed to was to go to university, get a degree, continue your education, and climb the ladder in the workforce.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with this. For my dad, this is what he was suited to, and he’s been very successful with it. He now works at a high level in corporate finance and has at times been tasked with managing hundreds of millions of dollars.
This was the path that I was exposed to, but for me it never felt right. It was clearly what my Dad was made to do. It suited his personality, his risk tolerance, and his vision for the future – but for me it was never something I could see myself doing.
I distinctly remember as a kid, going to work with my Dad a couple of times. He seemed to be good at what he did, and enjoyed the workplace, but all I can remember was a feeling of ‘wow, I never want to sit in an office at a desk all day long’.
I always wanted to be in charge. I always had a desire to create, innovate, and be the boss. Even as a young kid this thought excited me.
At first, I thought the answer was finding a job where I wouldn’t be tied to a desk. I dreamt of being a professional athlete, or at least training athletes and working in a physical environment. At this stage, I’d still never even heard of entrepreneurship and had no idea what was possible for a person in business – I just knew that being in an office answering to a boss wasn’t for me.
Eventually my mind wandered from being involved in training athletes, to more of a business/financial focus. I’d always had an obsession with making money – and was fascinated with concepts like compound interest, and supply & demand. I was always looking for new ways to make money, a desire which was sparked at age 7.
The Playstation 2 had just been released, and my sister and I desperately wanted one. Instead of just buying it for us, my parents decided to teach me and my sister a lesson about money. As a family, we got a job doing a paper run, dropping off pamphlets around the neighbourhood. After a couple of months, the money for the Playstation was saved. We stopped doing the paper run and got out console. That was when I first became infatuated with money, and the value it held – an obsession that’s stuck with me ever since.
In my early teens I dreamt of business ideas, but was torn between working in a sports type job, and starting a regular business. The one thing I knew was this: I didn’t want to have the long days in an office that my dad had. Although it was perfect for him, I knew that I simply could not handle that lifestyle.
By the time I was in my final year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was good at school, but knew I wasn’t cut out for a regular job. My natural ‘entrepreneurial tendencies’ were too apparent.
Teachers were telling us we needed to know what we wanted to do with our lives, and that it was time to make a decision.
During my final year, I wanted to earn some more money – still unsure what direction my life would go. I came across a website called Aliexpress and noticed a great opportunity. I could buy snapback hats on there for just $5 a piece. I had friends that paid up to $50 in stores for the same hats. Naturally, I ordered 20 of these hats for $100.
They arrived, I took a photo and put it on Facebook. I said people could buy 1 for $15, 2 for $25, and 3 for $30.
Within 30 minutes of posting the image, people had claimed all of the hats.
I brought them to school, exchanged them for the cash and made a cool $100 profit with 30 minutes of work. My mind was blown.
This was my first real business experience, and I soon transitioned it to eBay.
Straight out of school I also got a job at the local gym, knowing that I didn’t want a desk job and at least this way I was doing something physical.
All the while I was still running my eBay business on the side and was expanding my line into jerseys and beanies.
I deferred university for a year and a half, still working out what to do with myself. All I knew was that I was loving building my business. During this year and a half away from studying my life totally changed.
I started devouring any information on entrepreneurship and business that I could get my hands on. I’d discovered business and entrepreneurship and it found like I’d discovered my calling. I was amazed that none of my friends found this subject interesting in the way I did.
I read Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad, and MJ Demarco’s ‘The Millionaire Fastlane’. I read a bunch of other books as well, but these two really stood out for me. The way I thought started to change.
I realised that entrepreneurship was what I was made for. I always had natural tendencies that pushed me towards this line of work – it was just a matter of time.
My new focus began building my business to the point where I could quit my job.
I’m not typically suited to a regular job, but luckily I was in a position where innovation was highly encouraged. I got to share my thoughts on the direction the business should go, and was allowed to contribute my ideas which made it interesting for me.
I enjoyed my job, but it was just that – a job.
I started studying commerce at university after 1.5 years out of school. I got about half-way through my degree before realising that while I was learning some things, I was learning a lot more simply working for myself.
Soon enough I got into Kindle publishing and built a passive income stream. After 3 years of working at the gym, I’d found and succeeded at what I believe I was truly meant to do – be an entrepreneur. I was able to quit my job, and haven’t looked back since.
For me – I believe I was a born entrepreneur. I think for some people this is the case. It’s just something that we are drawn to.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the different types of entrepreneurs.
There are ‘class A’ entrepreneurs who are 100% entrepreneurial. This is all they know how to do. It’s what they’re made for.
Then, the class B are a little less entrepreneurial and maybe aren’t destined to create the same size of success, but can still do quite well.
Then there’s class C, class D and so on and so forth.
All of these different classes in my belief are somewhat ‘born’ with at least some level of the entrepreneurial tendencies I mentioned earlier. These are a requirement.
While not everyone is going to be a ‘Class A’ entrepreneur, many people (even class D) can have massive success that far exceeds what would be possible for them in a regular job.
For these Class D people, a side business might be best. Something like Kindle or Dropshipping, or eBay, might be a good option for them to dabble in on the side to supplement their regular income – and that’s totally okay!
– Gary Vaynerchuk has some strong thoughts about this topic… –
I believe that a lot of people have at least some level of entrepreneurial ability. It may not be class A, but most people can manage to build a decent income for themselves. A great way to start is by following someone else’s system.
This could be done by doing something like following ‘My Kindle course’, or Anton
Kraly’s ‘Dropship Lifetstyle Course’. If you possess lower levels of ‘entrepreneur’ in your DNA, then it may be slower for you to succeed with these methods, but if you persist and follow the steps – eventually you will! They’re proven systems after all.
So, in conclusion – this has been a bit of a rant.
I believe that entrepreneurs are first born. Perhaps as class A, B, C, D or so on and so forth. But I don’t think it ends there. From there, skills are developed. It all comes down to how hard you work.
A person with a class D entrepreneurial mind can have more success than a class A if they put in more work to developing their business skills.
All I know is that I’m made this way. I couldn’t do anything else for the rest of my life – that’s for sure. I stay up at night thinking of new business ideas or opportunities. It’s just how it is for me. Maybe some of you are the same? I think that we are few and far between, but if you’re reading this blog, and have an insatiable drive and desire to succeed, then it’s likely that we’re cut from the same cloth.
Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Do you think entrepreneurs are born, made, or perhaps a mixture?
Leave a comment below and let me know!