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.
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.
In our thought process, beliefs rarely present themselves as beliefs. Instead, they masquerade as facts. Have you ever heard people say things like, “I could never be a good public speaker” or “I’m just messy by nature”?
Notice how these statements sound like statements of fact. In reality, neither of them is factual. They both state a belief. What they actually mean is, “I believe that I could never become a good speaker.” And, “I believe that I can’t be tidy and organized.”
Moreover, by masquerading as facts, these statements imply two things. First, they suggest that “this is who I am.” And second, “Because I’m this way, there’s not much that I can do about it.” The second statement even says, “I’m messy by nature.” If I’m messy by nature, I must simply accept it. Right?
As a result, because we mistakenly treat such statements as facts, they serve to disable us. They rob us of power and potential to change and improve.
But when we modify these statements and recast them as mere beliefs, not absolute facts, we start to see options and possibilities for ourselves. We see the potential for change and even greater success.
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.
Before launching any business you need to assess the market potential, the capital requirements, the intensity of the competition, and your cost of operations. Equally important, you need to evaluate whether your personality is a "good fit" for the business.
A common mismatch is for an extravert to be in a business that is best suited for an introvert. Or vice-versa. In assessing your personality alongside the dynamic of a business, be sure to examine every dimension of the enterprise. Some businesses look like they are best suited for one personality type, when in reality the opposite may be true.
Don’t delude yourself by saying, "I know that this business doesn’t align well with my personality. But this business can make me a lot of money. And that’s enough incentive for me to make the necessary personality changes to succeed."
This kind of reasoning is a precursor to disaster. You may be able to will yourself into working day after day outside of the natural proclivities of your personality type. But in due time — indeed, sooner than you might think — the act will wear thin. Your enthusiasm for the business will start to wane. And once enthusiasm dwindles, you won’t bring the energy to the business to secure all of that money you dreamed of.
Only a fraction of the people who consider starting a business actually follow through and launch one. Many factors hold them back. But none is more daunting than fear.
Fear itself is inevitable. We never know when some unforeseen event may trigger it. This leaves us but two choices. We will either manage our fears. Or our fears will manage us. Success with your business startup depends largely on which choice you make.
Here then is a seven-step process for managing the fears which may come with owning a small business.
The Single Greatest Factor in Entrepreneurial Success Mike Armour On a flight to New York this month I found myself seated beside a veteran entrepreneur. Now retired and headed to Europe for a vacation, he was the founder of two … Continue reading
Lots of people say that they want to start a business. Few of them do so. Why not? What holds them back?
One of the greatest impediments, I’m convinced, is fear. In business, as elsewhere in life, fear is always lurking in the wings, eager to seize center stage, if we let it.
For encore entrepreneurs and all other business owners, therefore, courage is the single most important virtue. Courage is even more important than integrity, persistence, and will power, because without courage undergirding them, none of these other virtues can thrive.
Is Your Personality a Good Fitfor Your Business? Mike Armour Statistics tell us that the majority of encore entrepreneurs will start businesses in which they are the sole provider or the primary provider of services. The business itself, then, becomes … Continue reading
Are your personality traits conducive to entrepreneurial success? It’s risky to start a business without asking yourself that question. As much as anything, your success in building a small business will depend on your personality and how well it is suited to the task.