Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Bred

Guy Clapperton of the Guardian explores whether entrepreneurship is a born or bred trait.

Clapperton examines several real-life cases involving entrepreneurship in family lines and outside of family lines.

He also summarizes a recent study by Panasonic:

Panasonic recently commissioned research into what people who have the ability and motivation to turn themselves into businesspeople actually do with it. Brennan Peyton, head of sales for Panasonic Document Systems, says: "The key thing for us is what turns people who have the ability to be entrepreneurs into fully-fledged successful businesspeople."

The main conclusion that surprised Panasonic was how little planning went into the process. "About 54% of UK businesses start without any business planning at all, so they're often described as accidental entrepreneurs," he says. "Something forces a change in their life, normally it would appear to be in their 30s, prompting them from doing what they're doing to being an entrepreneur." These prompts can be redundancy, a geographical move, anything. "We found the spark that makes that happen doesn't necessarily leap from, 'I'm going to do this' to, 'I'm going to make a plan'."

The result is a lot of businesses that succeed without actually having an aim - presumably "doing well enough" is as good a measure of success as any for people in this position. Panasonic's main interest is in the fact that 64% of these entrepreneurs felt that technology was the thing that enabled their business to survive and compete. This is a little like saying Leonardo da Vinci did well for himself because he had the right paintbrushes, and Peyton freely confirms that the business idea has to work in the first place and the technology has to be deployed sensibly. "In terms of a startup making itself look like a larger concern and competing in that market, it makes a difference," he says.

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