Characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. How do you score?19 July 2010
The very definition of an entrepreneur is for many someone who simply goes their own way, and define their own path to success.
And no venture, and no entrepreneur, is precisely like the other. But why do some make it and others, in spite of the best of intentions, do not?
I came across the 2009 report “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” by the Kaufmann Foundation, based on a survey of 549 company founders across a variety of industries. The study seeks insights into high-growth founders’ motivations and their socio-economic, educational, and familial backgrounds. Key findings are sum up what successful entrepreneurs seem to have in common, in terms of background, level of education and motivation.
As an entrepreneur in the starting blocks of scaling up my business, I was of course curious to see if I fitted the picture and have what it takes.….
So here goes:
The average and median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40.
Tick! OK, I was 35. Not too far off the mark.
95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees.
Tick! With a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree under my belt, I fall in the latter category.
52 percent said they ranked among the top 10 percent in High School.
Yes Sir. I did. Can’t deny I was one of those bookworms with the glasses. Quite surprising finding though, I had the stereotype idea of the free-thinking entrepreneur that went so much against authority when growing up, that his or her talent wasn’t seen in school.
Less than 1 percent came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds.
Tick! I certainly lacked nothing when growing up, and got the chance to travel, study, play and sport. But extremely rich: no. Extremely poor: luckily for me, no.
15.2% of founders had a sibling that previously started a business.
Tick! My brother has a rent-a-doctor business, Addoc, that he started a few years’ earlier than I took the plunge. For him, it is a sidejob next to his ‘day job’ as a surgeon, but nevertheless, his ambition and guts certainly inspired me.
69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business.
Tick again. Yes, I was married and I can’t stress enough that without the support — and salary, let’s be honest — of my husband Han ten Broeke, I would never have been able to even think about quitting my job to starting develop a product full time. And those times when things seem to not go my way no matter how hard I try, he is the one who inspires me to take that extra step. Again, again and again.
59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at least one child when they launched their first business, and 43.5 percent had two or more children.
This certainly challenges the stereotype of the entrepreneurial workaholic with no time for a family.
As far as I am concerned: Tick again. Stronger: without my daughter, there would never have been a business idea. Thus — no business.
Having a child also made me long for more flexibility in my professional life. Having a business does not mean working fewer hours, for sure, but I can much more easily combine this workload with family.
The majority of the entrepreneurs in the sample were serial entrepreneurs. The average number of businesses launched by respondents was approximately 2.3.
Nope, here I don’t fit in. With a past as a diplomat, I was about as far from an entrepreneur one could come, I guess, when I started this venture. Let’s hope this is not an indication that I have 2.3 businesses to go before I may count myself successful.….!
74.8 percent indicated desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur.
Oups. Tough one. Hand on my heart, I found it so difficult — in the beginning — to admit that yes.… I WANT TO MAKE MONEY! Why? After 10 years in development aid, it was very hard to wear the hat of someone who thinks in terms of profit. It’s simply a bit of a dirty characteristic in my old circles. Also, MummyMug of course has a higher benefit than being a money maker: I sincerely do it also for the kids that will be saved the pain of scalding burns, if their parents are smart enough to use my invention. but this said, and certainly since I have investors on board, and since I realize how enormously hard it is to make that profit: yes, I want to make money. And yes, if I do: I will have deserved it!
Only 4.5 percent said the inability to find traditional employment was an important factor in starting a business.
Tick tick. I left my lifetime safe employment at the European Commission for my dream.No lack of employment in the past thus!
Entrepreneurs are usually better educated than their parents.
Nope, I’m not! very proud that my father has even two degrees — in business adminstration and in medicine. My mother is not far behind with an advanced teaching degree.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. More than half (51.9 percent) of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business.
I kind of am. My father is since a few years working as an independent consultant, after he got tired of the realities of employment in the public healthcare in Sweden. But while I grew up, my parents were both working in the public sector and I’m the first one trying entrepreneurship at the scale MummyMug™ necessarily entails.
The majority of respondents (75.4 percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies.
Tick and no tick! Does 10 years’ work experience, albeit in a very different field and for a public institution count.…. ?
Last but not least: Networks count. Professional networks were important to the success of the current businesses for 73 percent of the entrepreneurs in the study. In comparison, 62 percent felt the same way about personal networks.
Certainly agree. Networks are everything. Without them, you don’t get forward and you have nothing to fall back on when need be.
All in all — that’s quite encouraging, actually. At least if I can prove to make something out of this good start in life that I got ;-)
Who lives will see…
And in the meantime, tell me: what is your outlook?
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