I initially set out to write this piece to give my perspective on the controversial topic — Are Entrepreneurs Born or Bred? The more I researched and studied I found out the question was like the chicken and egg problem.
There is no concrete answer to the question & studies from leading scholars as well as Universities have data pointing in both directions.
There is no solid research to prove that selective personality traits of people are what makes them entrepreneurs. Neither is there enough proof that entrepreneurs can be trained like doctors or physicists.
This got me thinking on a wildly different tangent. I began comparing entrepreneurship to sports & entrepreneurs to sportspersons.
Here’s my take-
Are you born an entrepreneur or sportsperson?
I would not deny that there are a certain personality traits, behaviours, intelligence or physical abilities that are inherited. These shape a person’s ability and attitude. But only to an extent.
An entrepreneur is not born with a risk-taking attitude, it is an influence of one’s environment and exposure. There are various triggers that influence one’s appetite for taking a risk.
In the case of a sportsperson, heredity is again important but does not work alone. It is the ability to learn, practice & persevere that leads them to greatness.
There are various triggers that influence one’s appetite for taking a risk. In the case of a sportsperson, heredity is again important but does not work alone. It is the ability to learn, practice & persevere that leads them to greatness.
The Legends of Sport
Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods were not born with a special gene that made them who they were. Neither were Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates for that matter. Of course, your personality matters but in today’s day and age when doesn’t it?
The core of entrepreneurship lies the creation of new business ventures by individuals or teams. Sports too are not always about an individual alone. It is about being able to perform as a part of a collective unit. Learning to work with people and build relationships is an inherent part of both sports and entrepreneurship.
Can you train a person to become an entrepreneur just like you can train a sportsperson?
My answer is most definitely yes! Till the 12th standard, I had barely heard of the term entrepreneurship. 3 years later
I started an ecommerce venture with my best friend while at law school.
Of course, at the point, I was not trained to be an entrepreneur but I do believe I acquired knowledge and know-how along the way. Most of it were through intense self-learning and going out of the way to grab information. But, it can be taught and should be taught.
Entrepreneurs are passionate, persistent and have the ability to take risks. These are personality traits that do give a boost to individuals. These traits can be acquired through the course of life based on the experiences you allow yourself to have.
Sportspersons too have some inherent abilities but they are honed through training, passion, perseverance. Along with the sheer determination and grit to take risks.
The State of Education for Entrepreneurs and Sportspersons?
The education system does not engender a culture of entrepreneurship or sports but that of a comfortable zone in employment. Only a very small percentage of graduates dare to venture into entrepreneurial endeavours or pick sport as a career.
Educationists need to introduce entrepreneurship courses from primary school right up to university level & give more emphasis to sports. This will help unearth an individual’s passions and allow them to follow their dreams.
“De Bono further explains that the premise of our education system that holds that mistakes are bad and that children should be punished for making them is fundamentally flawed because human beings were designed to learn by making mistakes.”
Making mistakes as well as learning from failures is an essential part of learning and growing both in entrepreneurship and sports. And life.
PS: I have grown up playing a bunch of sports and aspired to play cricket for the country like a million other people, only to be told that the future is bleak. I passed on the chance to pursue that dream to study science. I followed that up with a degree in law and a love for entrepreneurship. Now I am following my heart and launching my second startup and have no regrets, only aspirations to take this to the next level.