Are entrepreneurs born or are they made?
It’s a stupid question because entrepreneurs can be born and they can be made.
If you’re born an entrepreneur, the chances are you operated at least one business when you were still at school.
If you’re a made entrepreneur, you probably didn’t start your first business till you were an adult.
Ray Kroc was 52 when he began building McDonald’s into the world’s most successful fast food business.
Colonel Harland David Sanders was 62 when his first KFC franchise opened in Utah and, like McDonald’s, it went global
I, on the other hand, started my first business when I was six. I set up a “farm” in our living room to supply the local pet shop with hamsters.
I got half a crown a time but my mum put me out of business when the hamster cages started swamping the room.
My second business was operating an unofficial school tuckshop.
I also went into the record business – selling recordings of the school opera, the Pirates of Penzance, to parents of the cast.
I was about 20 when I set up a news agency and by the age of 26 was earning £100,000 a year selling stories to newspapers, radio and TV stations. At the time I was the top-earning journalist in Britain.
Since then I have gone on to found four communications and marketing agencies, a thriving wine business, an art investment operation and I recently sold my stake in what became the UK biggest whisky retailing chain.
I’m not alone. Lots of other entrepreneurs began their first business venture when they were still at school.
I know one multi-millionaire whose first business was selling shirts to his classmates and another who began an oven cleaning business when he was 11 or 12.
Richard Branson, possibly the most famous entrepreneur to come out of Britain, started out as a teenage publisher and, as we all know, he went on to found umpteen businesses under the Virgin brand.
That seems to be the stamp of a born entrepreneur – they can’t stop themselves from launching multiple businesses whereas made entrepreneurs are often content to launch and operate one successful business in their lifetime.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that born entrepreneurs often have parents who run businesses. I didn’t – but I might be the exception.
So, over their lifetime, are born entrepreneurs more successful than made entrepreneurs?
No – not at all.
Born or made, entrepreneurs have their successes and their failures. I had a book publishing operation that bombed while quite a number of Richard’s businesses have bitten the dust.
I reckon it’s often the entrepreneurs who are content to have only one business who turn out to be the most successful.
Born entrepreneurs are great at starting enterprises but are less skilled at growing companies while made entrepreneurs are good at starting and managing businesses.
There is one trait shared by all entrepreneurs – they love what they do and they do what they love.