The Entrepreneur Gene: Why Some People Are Born To Start Companies

by Paul Hudson

Yes, that’s right; your genetics play a large part in determining how likely you are to be a good entrepreneur.

People have been contemplating for ages whether or not people's genetic composition affects their career choices, and it turns out it most certainly does.

According to Entrepreneur, a recent study conducted by Scott Shane, a professor of entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University and author of "Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Your Genes Affect Your Work Life," believes your genetics have a huge impact on entrepreneurial talent.

He says,

If you ask people whether they think there's such a thing as a 'born entrepreneur,' most people say yes. There's a widespread belief that there is some underlying, innate component to entrepreneurship, and we wanted to see if there was some literal truth to it.

Shane and fellow researchers studied the rates of entrepreneurship in hundreds of pairs of twins -- both identical (sharing 100 percent of the same genes) and fraternal (sharing only 50 percent of the same genes).

What they found surprised even them: According to the data they collected, identical twins have much higher rates of shared entrepreneurial tendencies.

Moreover, they determined the tendency to become an entrepreneur is not taught 30-40 percent of the time, but is instead innate. Does this mean some people are born entrepreneurs and others just aren’t?

Yes, it does.

It doesn't mean, however, being born genetically-inclined toward entrepreneurship will guarantee becoming an entrepreneur -- much less a successful entrepreneur.

It also doesn't mean if you're not genetically-inclined toward entrepreneurship you won't become a successful entrepreneur.

The truth is no one is ever born an entrepreneur; no matter how genetically-inclined you may be to become one, you still have to choose to become one. You still need to put in the work and choose the struggle as a lifestyle.

Most importantly, you need to have the right character traits. Otherwise, it’s impossible to become a successful entrepreneur -- and, let’s be honest, you can’t be called an entrepreneur if you’re not a successful one; it’s part of the definition.

Just as someone who can’t perform a successful surgery isn’t a surgeon, a person who can’t successfully run a business isn’t an entrepreneur.

All entrepreneurs have a relatively similar set of character traits. They're egocentric, passionate, inclined to take risks -- which, fun fact, some would argue is due to a naturally lower dopamine level in the brain -- enjoy delving into their work, and they’re often a bit stubborn, competitive, analytical and inquisitive.

These traits allow entrepreneurs to accomplish tasks in an efficient manner, and to do so while under a lot of stress and pressure. You see, it’s not just about getting the work done and doing it right; it’s about getting the work done under circumstances that'd cause most to have a mental breakdown.

An entrepreneur needs to be capable of doing the work ahead of him or her, in the allotted time, with a limited amount of resources, with absolutely no guarantee of success.

You have to put everything on the line for something you believe in and deal with the countless failures you’re most certainly going to experience. It’s not easy.

Work is work, but staying focused, staying motivated and finding reason to keep pushing when everything seems to be going to sh*t -- it's what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur. While these traits might be innate for some, they can also be learned in others.

Having the right personality traits naturally, alone, won't make an entrepreneur. Those traits need to be utilized in order to develop the appropriate skills necessary for becoming an entrepreneur.

Being intuitive is useless if you don’t ask the right questions. Being diligent is pointless if you’re working the wrong job. Taking risk after risk is suicide if you don’t have the experience, the insight and the rationale to take the right sorts of risks.

There are no shortcuts to the greatest things in life; no matter how genetically-inclined you are for greatness, you still need to make yourself great. No one is ever born great.

What it really all comes down to is the fact certain genetic characteristics make those who have them more likely to try certain things and to think in a certain manner.

When these different ways of thinking interact with the outside world, they’re going to each interpret the world differently.

What genetics does is map out how likely your mind is to process information in a certain manner -- how fast you make connections, what sorts of connections likely to be make and how your ego interacts and affects the interpretations of those connections.

We're more creatures of nurture than we are of nature. This may have been different thousands of years ago, but as we’ve developed into complex societies bombarded with experiences and information, the effect nature has on us can no longer compare. We’re born designed by nature, but our lives change us entirely from that point on.

Some of us are more genetically-inclined toward certain activities or passions, which require a certain mindset or way of thinking.

Nevertheless, how we choose to shape our minds is really up to us. It may be more difficult for you to become an entrepreneur than the next guy, but truth be told, it’s never easy. Ever.

If it’s a little harder for you than for him or her then I guess you’ll just have to try a littler harder.

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