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Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Psychology has long pondered whether people are a product of their environment and life experiences (nurture) or the result of their genetic make up (nature). There are differing opinions among experts and different schools of thought have dominated at different times throughout history.

There’s strong evidence that the environment around a child all the way through the adolescent years plays a major role in the child’s personality, and by extension, the likelihood of that child entering any given profession. If a child has several fire truck toys, reads books where firefighters are the main heroes, dresses as a firefighter for Halloween, and has a fire truck bed frame, the child will have an early predisposition toward becoming a firefighter later in life. If the parents encourage, rather than squash this enthusiasm for firefighters, there’s a descent chance the child may grow up to be a firefighter; especially if he/she has real life role models who are in the profession, such as the parents friends.

Similarly, a child who is regularly encouraged to solve problems and answer questions, rather than given the answers, will develop the critical reasoning skills necessary to become a leader and an entrepreneur. A promising young entrepreneur will, at minimum, display 3 of several key qualities. First, the child notices inadequacies in the surrounding environment and questions them, rather than accepting them. Second, the child shows motivation and determination to resolve or fix the observed inadequacies. Third, the child is resourceful. These skills can be nurtured by parents, teachers, peers, or others that the child interacts with on a regular basis. As Cameron Herald points out, academic curriculum and attitudes in school can go a long way toward creating future entrepreneurs. At a young age, especially between 8 and 12, the books a child reads can help develop an entrepreneurial mindset. As a parent seeking to encourage entrepreurism in a child, two of the best things you can do are introduce the child to adult entrepreneurs that the child can use as role models, and frequently ask the child how to solve problems that arise in daily life. Here’s more info on teaching your kids to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that the a child’s environment influences his/her likelihood of becoming a future entrepreneur is that growing up with a parent in the house who is an entrepreneur, significantly increases the chance of the child becoming an entrepreneur.

The problem with the last piece of evidence is that having a parent who is an entrepreneur, may imply a genetic predisposition for a child to become an entrepreneur. That’s how complicated the nature vs. nurture debate can be. A lot of the evidence could be used for either side of the argument. The idea that children follow in their parents footsteps isn’t unique to entrepreneurs. Famous investor Warren Buffet’s father was a stockbroker. Angelina Jolie, Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas and others all followed in their parents footsteps as actors. In addition, countless doctors, lawyers, jewelers, carpenters, longshoremen, and others follow in their parents footsteps. It makes sense that if a parent is very good at a sport (or a profession) there’s a genetic predisposition toward that activity and that the genetics will be passed on to the next generation.

In short, there’s no easy way to tell if a child’s future as an entrepreneur is due to nature or nurture, but growing up with entrepreneurial parents in an environment that encourages and champions entrepreneurial activity and thinking creates a very strong predisposition for a child to become an entrepreneur.

Here’s another Ted Talk about the current state of the education system and how it relates to entrepreneurship. Click Here
Keep an eye out for VentureStart’s new domian coming soon.


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