Are Entrepreneurs Wired Differently?
Successful entrepreneurs are different from the very start. The most important manifestation of this trait is their having a different attitude, which I believe happens because they are wired differently.
French economist Jean-Baptiste Say, who started circulating the word "entrepreneur" around 1800, is quoted as having said:
The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.
Failures galore may accumulate in the life span of an entrepreneur. But an unsullied faith that defines his (or her) attitude keeps this person tethered to the tedious uphill path of entrepreneurship. No doubt education helps, but the instinctive knack that an entrepreneur is born with allows him or her to seek out and pursue manifold risks and be prepared to lose it all if needed.
The top business schools around the world are churning out top-level managers, but most never become entrepreneurs for the simple reason that they lack those wired differently qualities.
Even the definitions of entrepreneur support the risk-taking factor along with the trait of taking initiative.
Merriam-Webster defines entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”
Dictionary.com opts for “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”
A walk down history lane reveals tales of failure by entrepreneurs who have top management pedigrees and success trajectories of people sans fancy degrees.
Risk taking and intense concentration powers enable successful entrepreneurs to trust their gut feelings, learn from experience and crystalize their ideas into success strategies, all by converting challenges into opportunities.
Present a very successful idea (say the proposal for Facebook) to a graduating class of, say, 50 students at a top business school. Fifty percent of the students will outright reject the idea, saying that it won't work. Others will think about things and contemplate it but finally barely five will start working on the notion. Sadly, experience has shown that 4 out of those final 5 will also abandon the idea because of various reasons, such as a girlfriend, parents or the lure of a stable job. But one will pursue the idea with unflinching dedication and a one-track mind in pursuit of the defined goal.
This outcome is exactly like the narrative of the emergence of a leader, which prompts the rise of followers.
The inherent zeal to risk all to get all doesn't come from bookish knowledge. Indeed scholastic activity blunts the allure of risk taking and diving into the unknown. Schooling provide tools to avoid risk and instead turn toward a stable and successful business.
On the other hand, "differently wired" humans listen to their intuitive inner feelings and take risks in the right direction to move forward, lacing their decision with determination as they foresee the future. The risk-taking quality that's essential can also lead to failure but there is always the possibility of another try. Never giving up in the face of failure and adverse circumstances brings the crowning glory of success to entrepreneurs.
Over the years, people with and without top formal business education have become entrepreneurs if they have the intelligence and adaptability, pursue risk taking with clarity and have the sense to grab an opportunity when it presents itself.