What makes them tick

2011-09-13 00:00

AN Ernst & Young report released recently, “Nature or nurture: Decoding the entrepreneur”, based on survey of 685 entrepreneurs worldwide and in-depth interviews with winners of the Entrepreneur of the Year award, provided fascinating insights into the shared characteristics, frustrations and career goals of some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs.


These are the top five key findings of the report.

Entrepreneurial leaders are made, not born

Entrepreneurial leaders may be made rather than born, but a large majority of the most successful embarked on their first ventures at a young age. Among a survey of 685 leading entrepreneurial leaders conducted for this report, 45% said they had started their first company before the age of 30.

Entrepreneurship is rarely a one-off decision

For the majority of entrepreneurs launching only one business venture is clearly not enough. Sixty percent had started three or more companies, 20% six or more and 10% said they had founded more than 10 companies in their career to date.

That doesn’t mean that having created these companies they automatically cut all ties with their previous interests.

Among the survey respondents, 45% said that they have retained some ownership in each of their previous ventures, and 28% said that they have retained a stake in some of them.

Funding, people and know-how are the biggest barriers to entrepreneurial success

Among the six out of 10 respondents who experienced obstacles in their ventures, the most common barrier to future growth cited (33%) is the lack of funding or finance. This reflects the current environment, where many entrepreneurs said they continue to experience problems with accessing finance, despite a gradual easing of credit conditions in many countries. The two other most-cited obstacles are recruiting the right people with appropriate expertise.

Entrepreneurs share common traits

While our research suggests that entrepreneurs are made, rather than born, the survey did find entrepreneurs will typically exhibit a combination of behaviours and attitudes that are likely to be different from many of their peers in more well-established corporate organisations. When asked what the top three most important qualities of an entrepreneurial leader are, over three quarters of the entrepreneurs identified “having a vision”, 73% “passion” and 64% “drive”. The scores for flexibility (33%), relentless focus on quality (18%) and loyalty (14%) were much lower.

Traditional companies can learn from entrepreneurial leaders

There is much that traditional companies can learn from growth companies led by entrepreneurial leaders. Companies need to foster a culture in which entrepreneurship is celebrated and rewarded.


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