Entrepreneurship: Are People Born to Be Entrepreneurs?

Are people born to be entrepreneurs? Or is it a skill that anyone can learn?

You might be interested to know that there is actually impressive research on this subject. Nicos Nicolaou from the Cass Business School at London’s City University and Scott Shane from Case Western Reserve University did the study. They found that inherent abilities, those you were seemingly born with, account for about 37% to 48% of entrepreneurial success.

This means that all entrepreneurs, whatever their natural talents, must learn the craft. Some people simply have a larger head start than others. They come into this world with personality traits that are strongly aligned with entrepreneurial effectiveness.

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Four Obstacles to Success

The philosopher Carlos Castenada said that there are four impediments to learning new skills. They are fear, power, clarity, and old age.

The challenge of fear to learning is obvious enough. And by old age he refers to the mistaken beliefs we often hold about our limited learning potential in later years of life.

But how are power and clarity obstacles to learning? Power, he would explain, limits our sense that we need to change. When we have things under control, what motive is there to learn or do something different.

A similar scenario plays out with clarity. If we are convinced that we have a clear and complete understanding of something, we have not motivation to plunge deeper into it and explore it more thoroughly.

As this article spells out, encore entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to each of these obstacles. And to the degree that these obstacles prevent them from learning, the obstacles stand in the way of success.

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Resilience: The Most Important Quality for Encore Entrepreneurs

People starting a business at any age need resilience. It’s particularly vital, however, for men and women starting their first business in their fifties, sixties, or beyond. Not only do encore entrepreneurs face all of the potential setbacks of business owners half their age, they also must contend with contingencies that are unique to adults in the last half of life.
These contingencies can be such major setbacks that encore entrepreneurs must have a high degree of resilience in three dimensions.
First is emotional and psychological resilience to allow them to bounce back when untoward events occur. Second is financial resilience to stay afloat whenever these contingencies interrupt cash flow for an extended period. And third is organizational resilience which allows the business to continue to thrive in the event a key employee is lost.

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Is This Really a Good Time to Start a Business?

Without a doubt, there are unique challenges to starting a business in a low-performing economy. What’s often overlooked, however, is that there are equally distinct challenges for startups in good times.
When an economy is booming, retail and office space are more expensive, often notably so. Qualified workers are in shorter supply. And lower supply usually means higher wages.
Moreover, during strong economies, rates for advertising, equipment leases, and supplies typically increase. And because startups multiply so rapidly once an economy takes off, you may face more intense competition at the very time that you are still trying to establish your business.
Thus, while finding customers or clients is likely to be easier in a strong economy, the cost of launching your business is greater. So, too, are the early demands on cash flow.
In summary, then, you must contend with serious challenges, regardless of when you start a new business. Looking for the ideal time is likely to be more futile than fruitful.

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Encore Entrepreneurs

Encore entrepreneur is a term that has come into use only recently. It denotes men and women who start a business in their 50s, 60s, and 70s as an encore to a previous career. According to the Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration, these encore entrepreneurs currently launch more than half of the 400,000 business startups each year in the U.S.

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