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However, it still remains controversial whether entrepreneurs are naturally born or made. Some argue that entrepreneurs are endowed with distinguishable traits and, unarguably, more advantaged (Nicolaou et al, 2008; Zhang et al, 2009; Shane, 2010). Other studies, nevertheless, assert that entrepreneurial leaders are made and not born (Harris & Gibson, 2008; Ernst & Young, 2011) as well as many entrepreneurship programs over the world. Accordingly, entrepreneurial skills and characteristics can be learned and developed though experiences and education. Also, according to Barringer & Ireland (2010) and Kuratko & Hodgetts (2007), that "Entrepreneurs are born, not made" is a mistaken belief that needs to be dispelled when entrepreneurship evolves.
The fact that there is no consensus upon this topic as well as solid scientific evidence demonstrates that there is no right or wrong belief. This paper will critically analyze the perspective that entrepreneurs are made, not born. The vision is not to decide which side will win but to provide a more thorough understanding into the current issue. The critical point is that the perspective from which people look at the issue will affect their choices and decisions in entrepreneurship.
First of all, whether special traits of entrepreneurs are genetic is still being debated. A research by Nicolaou et al (2008) has compared the entrepreneurial activity of 870 pairs of monozygotic and 857 pairs of same-sex dizygotic twin from the UK and found that that around 37 - 42 % of the variance in the tendency to become an entrepreneur is due to genetic factors. In other words, more than half of the variance is attributed to environmental factors (both shared and non-shared). Also, Shane (2010) has critically analyzed the impact of OCEAN 5 personality dimensions on the propensity of starting a business including extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. He also mentioned other important traits, i.e. locus of control, self-esteem, novelty seeking, need for autonomy and risk-taking propensity. Those entrepreneurial traits are widely discussed in many studies and books, yet there is hardly any genetic evidence for personality traits. Shane associated the "novelty seeking gene" (DRD4), "activity" gene (DAT1), "impulsiveness" gene (DRD2) or "persistence" gene (HTR2A) with those special characteristics of entrepreneurs including personalities, activity level and cognitive abilities (Shane, 2010, pp 152). However, he also concluded that "there is nothing in your genetic makeup that will guarantee you will become an entrepreneur and nothing that will preclude it" and "you can always overcome your genetic predispositions" (Shane, 2010, p.165). This is to say that DNA does exert a certain influence on a person's entrepreneurial personality, but not necessarily the prominent factor.
The debate of "Nature" vs "Nurture" or the effect of genes and environment on human development in terms of personalities is still ongoing. A recent research even put it on the map and found out that the extent to which environmental and DNA factors influence each characteristic differed significantly across the country, i.e. UK (Davis et al, 2012). Meanwhile, the impact of personality traits on entrepreneurs is itself another controversial topic. It is stated that "The potential role of personality traits should be presented as a series of interesting possibilities, and a subject for further research, rather than as established fact" (Llewllyn & Wilson, 2003, p.345). However, it is still widely agreed that entrepreneurs do share some common traits, e.g. aggressive, persevere, risk-taking, or having a strong passion and locus of control. Bill Gates dropped Harvard to pursue his dream. Steve Jobs is well-known for being obsessive, compulsive and working tirelessly. The list could go on and on.
Therefore, it is still not convincing that genes are the only factor influencing entrepreneurs. Firstly, genes do not necessarily affect personalities. Secondly, personality traits do not necessarily affect entrepreneurship either. Indeed, human traits are developed from a complex interaction between "innate" and "environmental" factors. Entrepreneurs are no exception. Their distinguishable abilities are also developed through nurturing, experiences and exposure to environment. This is, to some extent, similar to the theory of the blank slate ("the mind has no innate traits"). Accordingly, it is the environment that defines different human characteristics. Being exposed to different stimuli, human will develop different attitudes and behaviors. A person born with extraordinary genes (i.e. highly aggressive or smart) can never be an entrepreneur if he/she had no exposure to business world. As Ernst and Young (2011) stated in the report - "there is no single entrepreneurship gene but there are traits and experiences that make it more likely that an individual will choose the path of entrepreneurship and, crucially, succeed over the long term". So, what might be written on the "slate" mindset of entrepreneurs? This paper will not focus on the controversial innate personalities but on other factors including experiences, education and finally, passion.
Experience is inarguably one of the most important factors. It is undoubted that most entrepreneurs start their businesses at the young age but only achieve certain successes at the middle age. There are only a few exceptions, which might include Farrah Gray - who started selling at 6, or Mark Zuckerberg - the youngest billionaire in Forbes 100 rich list (aged 27). Assuming that all entrepreneurs have innate special traits, they would have started at the early age and succeed early. A survey taken by the Earns & Young (2011), however, found out that only 10% of entrepreneurs start their first venture at below 20 while 45% of them are from 22 - 29. Also, the rate of start-up failures is undoubtedly high, 30 - 40 % losing their money, and 70 - 80% failing to see the returns on investment, and the remarkably 90 - 95% incapable of meeting the projection (Nobel, 2011). It is probably concluded that experiences both before and after the business venture would significantly contribute to the propensity to become an entrepreneur and to be successful in the business. This argument is also supported by Harris and Gibson (2008, pp 570) stating that "entrepreneurial process is experiential in nature". Or as Steve Jobs said " A lof of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. So they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one's understanding of the human experiences, the better design we will have". Experiences are not only prior exposure to activities, but also include failures and lessons. Indeed, people learn more from failures, since they could learn why they fail and how to start over. The essential component of entrepreneurship, rather than any other career, is the important need of failure. However, it should be noted that people react to stimuli in different ways. Experiences can be either constructive or destructive, both depending on how people perceive them.
Educational background is another determinant factor, which include both family upbringing and professional education from schools. Children raised up in an entrepreneurial family are inarguably more advantaged than others. They are more exposed to the business world, learn more lessons from their parents and also may have more capital to start with. As for those whose parents are not involved in entrepreneurial activity, upbringing plays an indispensible role. Parents may support their kids in entrepreneurial activities, or simply developing need traits like perseverance, optimism or confidence. Eve Branson (mother of Richard Branson - founder of Virgin Group) revealed her teaching the project: Stick-Out-Your-Hand-and-Look-People-in-the-Eye in order to transform her son from being a shy boy to an extrovert entrepreneur (Mazzio, 2012). Parents may teach children both directly and indirectly. Farrah Gray who became millionaire at the age of 14, said in an interview that it was his mother, who worked day and night, that encouraged him to be make money at such a young age. His mother's conscientiousness indirectly motivated him to be an entrepreneur. Indeed, children at the young age are more likely to learn from their parents, either conditionally or unconditionally. They imitate, learn, and ultimately, form their own directions and perspectives.
Educational programs, moreover, can help develop entrepreneurial skills. Drop-outs like Bill Gates or Marc Zuckerburg are much in minority. Many programs have been established around the world and helped thousands to establish their own companies and pursue their dreams. It has been stated that entrepreneurial attitude and skills can be developed and improved by entrepreneurship programs (Harris & Gibson, 2008) and attitudes are affected by educational programs rather than characteristics since they are based on learning and experiences (Florin et al., 2007 cited in Harris & Gibson, 2008, p.569). Also, according to a research by Wadhwa, Freeman & Hissing (2008, cited in Wadhwa, 2010), there is a significant difference between companies founded by just high school diploma holders and the rest. It is thus undoubted why Jewish (well-known for being the smartest ethnic group in the world) prioritize education above money and anything. Knowledge is truly valuable, and entrepreneurs, like any other careers, cannot succeed without knowledge, either from schools or from entrepreneurship programs.
Self-help books are also another valuable source that provides self-development learning. Literacy and books inarguably play an important role in a child's development by helping them to think, to get access to more knowledge, to analyze and solve the problems. Grown-up also need books, not only to gain valuable lessons that their parents, schools, or friends cannot teach, but also to motivate themselves. Successful people never underestimate the importance of books. Such books as "Seven habits of highly effective people" (Stephen R.Covey) or Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki) and a large pool of motivational books have become the mentors for many. Reading all day could not make an entrepreneur, yet provides the foundation for those who tend to take risks.
Another external factor is the environment (i.e. norms, policies) that advocates the development of entrepreneurs. A smart, aggressive or risk-taking person born in a closed-economy or an underdeveloped society with limited exposure to business world is less likely to start his own business.
The bottom line is passion. Thomas Edison stated "Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration" or Dell said "You don't have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream". Passion could drive one to be open to experience, to learn from failures and to persevere in pursuing dreams. As Shane (2010) stated that if one does not possess entrepreneurial traits, he can still overcome the genes predispositions. However, passion or motivation may be positive or negative. Some establish companies to overcome their financial difficulties, especially those who start from scratch. Others find fun in doing entrepreneurial activities and getting rewards form them. Passion is also formed by the interaction between innate traits and external factors. The extent to which passion could drive someone to fine tune their personalities or sharpen their skills also significantly depends on the personalities. Those who have enough passions to pursue their dreams are also goal-oriented and persevere. Thus, many books have overstated the role of passion, while denying the role of personality traits. Nonetheless, most of the successful entrepreneurs have shared one thing in common - that people have to love what they do to succeed. Indeed, it does not matter where passion comes from, it matters how passion could drive people to achieve what they want as entrepreneurs.
Successful entrepreneurs can pride themselves on "born" abilities, yet nobody decides to entrepreneurs when they are born. Many have also written about the effect of genes on personalities and the influence of those personalities themselves on entrepreneurs; nonetheless, with no consensus. In other words, that entrepreneurs are born is not a fact yet, and thus "everyone has the potential to become one" (Kuratko, 2009). Hence, the only fact that is more favorable by optimists is that entrepreneurs are made, and can be made. That is the only explanation for emerging entrepreneurship programs and also self-development books for business starters. It should be; moreover, noted that people mind and abilities can be refined and sharpened in positive environmental factors including education, family upbringing and more importantly, real life experiences. This paper will conclude by a saying from Walt Disney "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them". Clinging to the point that Entrepreneurs are born, not made is shutting all possible open doors. Talent is like a seed, without nurturing either internally or externally, even the best seed could not make a tree.