The psychological makeup of the entrepreneur. Is this you?

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 29/09/2020 10:30:00 AM

What makes you an entrepreneur? Are there distinct personality traits which propel you towards the title of business owner, one of the most challenging occupations there is?

Icehouse Entrepreneur

It takes a special kind of person to ‘choose’ to become an entrepreneur, and in 2013 we reported some of the scientific studies that have attempted to unpick the psychological traits of the entrepreneur.

The results? As you’d expect, entrepreneurs are chiselled from granite, but they’re not born. There is obviously ‘no such thing as an ‘entrepreneurial personality’, and there are great variances in the psychological makeup of successful entrepreneurs.’

Your core characteristics are...

However, Harvard Business School did identify four common characteristics which, to some degree, categorise driven and ambitious individuals in business: 

  • Need for achievement – the desire to strive hard for success in order to obtain a sense of personal achievement
  • Internal locus of control – an individual’s belief that they control their environment through their own actions 
  • A tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty – the ability and comfort to make a decision with incomplete or ambiguous information  
  • Risk-taking propensity – actively looks for risky ventures or assignments and has a greater tendency to take risks which are calculated, rather than impulsive 

Seek opportunities to get success

So what’s happened since then? ‘According to a recent study by CPP Inc., the top two personality traits entrepreneurs possess are perception and intuition. This is because success doesn’t come to those who are smartest. Success comes to those who see opportunities and take them,’ states

The study also identifies the five other entrepreneurial traits; passion, motivation, optimism, creativity and risk-taking. There may be a few rogue ingredients in the recipe, too. For instance, a new paper from the University of Central Florida suggests that ‘sleep problems might nudge aspiring entrepreneurs to enter self-employment’. However, there’s no evidence to measure the success of ‘subsequent venturing efforts’.

‘Many experts agree that passion is ‘at the heart’ of entrepreneurship because thinking and acting entrepreneurially arguably requires a strong passion that fuels the personal agency, proactivity, creativity, risk-taking, aspiration, resilience, and persistence that are needed in entrepreneurship,’ according to the authors of Entrepreneurial Passion and Personality: The Case of Academic Entrepreneurship, Obschonka, Moeller and Goethner, 2019.

| Use coaching as a business asset

The great news is that any negative characteristics can be challenged. One such example is a certain unwillingness to take professional advice from others which could be helpful.

That’s why hundreds of founders, owners and CEOs revel in the advice and relationships they get from our business coaches. First comes the realisation that help is needed, soon followed by a desire to seek the right kind of help. We hear this a lot from our alumni. And once they immerse themselves in business coaching, the results speak for themselves.

‘The most important part of all this is understanding that it’s fine to accept one’s situation now, to want it to be better, whatever that means, and to move toward a better place while allowing for the snakes and ladders of life,’ explains Icehouse coach, Paul King.

‘… you’ve got to pull the barriers down and forget what you do know, and learn what you don't. I guess the obvious thing is to know when you’re ready to ask for help. Some businesses can leave it too late. The damage is done, so parking your pride at the door and saying you need help is important,’ adds fellow coach Ken Leeming.

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For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs.  


Topics: Business Coaching, Business Strategy & Planning, Ken Leeming, Wellbeing, Building, Paul King, Entrepreneurship