Can you teach people how to be entrepreneurs?

Raw Talent or Learned?


I read an article in the IoD magazine this morning (also available online), which was a debate about whether “entrepreneurship” is something that can be taught?

The media often takes the view that anyone can become an entrepreneur (why do I always have to spell check that word), however there is a school of thought that takes the view that entrepreneurs are born, not made.

Perhaps the right answer is a bit of both… you need the natural aptitude or make-up of an entrepreneur, but you could be taught how to make it happen and succeed?

Perhaps this last point is most relevant in a large corporation that is trying to create an environment & culture of innovation: identify the natural entrepreneurs and provide training that shapes them into successful ones.

(posted by Rob Gray)

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3 thoughts on “Can you teach people how to be entrepreneurs?

  1. Born or Made is a false dichotomy. Like many things “to do with people” it’s wrong to put us in boxes. The population is more likely to follow a normal distribution and I think that’s the case with entrepreneurship.

    Thus the right question to ask is whether people’s natural level of entrepreneurship can be improved upon, nurtured and developed. And the answer to that question is clear: it can.

    Interestingly there’s another false dichotomy surrounding that: the nature/nurture debate. It suggests two discrete alternatives when the reality is a continuum.

  2. I suppose a large part of the debate is – can you take someone that does NOT have a natural aptitude and mould them into a successful entrepreneur?

    What interests me is *what* exactly is the “natural level of entrepreneurship”? Is it a person’s attitude to risk? Their creativity and ability to come up with new ideas, their tenacity and perseverance to make those ideas happen? Combination of all of those?

  3. I don’t believe one can take someone without natural aptitude and mould them into a successful entrepreneur.
    We can teach entrepreneurship: train people in the skills, knowledge and even new or evolved behaviours that entrepreneurs have demonstrated however it is their natural aptitude, their personality which leads them to success. The key here is successful entrepreneur.
    One aspect to all of our personalities is temperament, we are born with this examples such as: Introvert or extrovert, active or passive, dependent or independent, analytical or intuitive – admittedly we each have differing levels of extrovert or introvert and yes we can change our behaviours to mask what is at our core – e.g. behave as an extrovert when at our core we are an introvert. Mask is all we can do as these are not changeable we are born with our temperament and it will always remain. Most of the attributes that make successful entrepreneurs relate to their temperament: such as tenacity, resilience, the ability to identify, persuade and secure the resources necessary as well as creativity, ability to make things happen – commercialise ideas, self-confidence, taking the initiative, taking personal responsibility, competitiveness (even with themselves) rather than perceiving failure they see simply non-successes – a learning opportunity (be that their own or other peoples), they have high energy, they are independent and importantly they can enthuse and communicate their vision and ideas. These cannot be taught; they are either temperament or learned behaviour from experiences at a young age.
    In terms of the “natural level of entrepreneurship” surely there isn’t one? I believe a combination and that combination will differ depending upon the environment such as economic climate, the market in which one operates the uniqueness of the idea or concept, the stage of its development, the resources or team that one has been able to garner.

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