Entrepreneurship – do genes play a part?
Why are some of us entrepreneurs and others not? Is it only the environment we grow up in that matters or do our genes have a part to play as well?
Professor Scott Shane of Case Western Reserve University, is one scientist who claims that people with parents with certain genetic components are more likely to become entrepreneurs.
To what extent do genes matter?
In his genetic research on identical twins, who share 100 percent of their genes, and fraternal twins, who share 50 percent of their genes, professor Shane concluded that identical twins were more likely to share the genetic factors that enable entrepreneurship. His conclusion is that 30-40% of entrepreneurship is inherited.
“But even when a person has the entrepreneurial innate makeup that makes him/her more likely to be an entrepreneur, genes interact with environmental stimuli”, professor Shane says.
Combination of nature & environment
In other words having proved that genes play a part it is still difficult to determine to what extent they shape an individual to become an entrepreneur. Without the right environment the same person may not have become an entrepreneur? Growing up in an atmosphere adverse to risk taking, creativity and innovation the same person would probably never have become an entrepreneur.
My father was an entrepreneur and I don't know how many times my mother told me I'm just like him. But if they had raised me to believe new opportunities and developing projects was wrong would I still have had the mind of an entrepreneur? Or even worse if they had discouraged curiosity, vision and persistence.
According to Professor Shane genetic factors raise the odds of a person becoming an entrepreneur but environmental factors are more crucial, and I tend to agree with him. Not least since we are able to impact what and who we surround ourselves with. It is up to us to determine our future, regardless of what genes we have inherited. Entrepreneurial genes facilitate, but unless we really make an effort and are persistent we will never succeed no matter how excellent our genes are.
The difference between having an entrepreneurial mind and carrying out entrepreneurial activity
Anyone can learn how to carry out entrepreneurial activity. But how do you learn to have an entrepreneurial mind? Is it really possible to learn to risk everything you have in order to achieve something you passionately believe in? Because that's what having an entrepreneurial mind entails. One headhunter I know once said to me that when someone tells them he is an entrepreneur he asks him if he is prepared to risk losing his house and everything he ownes in order to succeed? If the answer is no, which it is in most cases, he hasn't got an entrepreneurial mind but is carrying out entrepreneurial activity which is different.
What your opinion? Do our genes have a part to play or can we learn to develop an entrepreneurial mind anyway? Learn to have the strength and courage to take risks which is crucial for an entrepreneur. What role do our genes play in this? Does a person need to be programed genetically to have the strength and courage to risk everything they have?
Photo: Flickr – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory