Ernst & Young Decodes the DNA of Entrepreneurs
Can you identify an entrepreneur based on their behavior and traits alone? Ernst & Young, founders of the World Entrepreneur of the Year Program, recently conducted a survey of 685 entrepreneurial business leaders to identify common traits and characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs. While no “entrepreneurship gene” has been identified, the findings of the report can serve as an important guide for those looking to become successful entrepreneurs.
The first finding of the report was that entrepreneurs are made, not born. While some entrepreneurs start young, like those featured at yesterday’s Young Entrepreneur Summit at the White House, most harness years of experience obtained through education and corporate environments. More than half of respondents to the survey even identified themselves as “transitioned” entrepreneurs, entering the field after traditional employment.
The survey also discovered that entrepreneurs rarely develop only one startup or venture. After learning better practices and methods the first time, entrepreneurs generally return to create new companies and new startups. As a result, serial entrepreneurs develop a significant number of all new ventures.
The entrepreneurs in the survey also confirmed much of what we’ve been hearing as we talk to entrepreneurs across the country: there is a deficit of capital, talent, and expertise that creates a serious obstacle for entrepreneurs. As many as 6 out of 10 respondents to the survey noted access to capital as the most difficult challenge they had to overcome when developing their venture. The report noted the importance of creating entrepreneurial ecosystems as a solution, something we are supporting across the country with our Startup Region initiatives.
When exploring the specific characteristics that entrepreneurs hold, the survey found that entrepreneurs generally have similar core traits. They feel in direct control of their venture and the environment, believing that their actions can directly influence results. Entrepreneurs also accept calculated risk and see opportunity in situations where others see disruptions.
Finally, the survey discovered that traditional companies could learn from entrepreneurial leaders. New entrepreneurial ventures tend to encourage innovation and place larger shares of ownership in the hands of the employees. Traditional companies generally do not have incentives to creatively innovate, but doing so can be enormously beneficial. Big companies and startups can work together to both benefit each other and the overall economy.
While there is no blueprint or specific guide for starting up a new company, there are many common traits and practices shared by entrepreneurs. They have common characteristics, a thirst for innovation and they know they can constantly learn to become better entrepreneurs. Anyone involved in entrepreneurship or looking to start a company should check out the great report from Ernst & Young and explore all of the advice that the survey respondents had to offer.