The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship sponsored a fascinating study of 549 entrepreneurs in order to better understand how entrepreneurs came to be entrepreneurs.
They focused on background and motivational issues, and defined an entrepreneur as someone who founded a company or business, or was an early employee with principal responsibilities from the beginning.
How do you measure up? Are you a typical entrepreneur or did you break the mould?
Take a look at the survey results and evaluate yourself against these attributes.
Statistic: Average age of entrepreneurs is 40
Conclusion: People start relatively young
Statistic: Almost all entrepreneurs (97%) had a bachelor’s degree; almost half hold a masters degree.
Conclusion: A degree seems to be an important ingredient.
Statistic: 75% were in the top 30% of high school; more than half were in the top 10% in high school.
Conclusion: Entrepreneurs appear to be fairly smart people as a group.
Statistic: Entrepreneurs tend to come from middle class or upper lower class backgrounds, and were better educated and more entrepreneurial than their parents.
Conclusion: Entrepreneurship does not run in the family, and you do not have to start out wealthy to know how to make money.
Statistic: Most entrepreneurs (70%) were married when they got started, and almost half had children.
Conclusion: You do not need to be footloose and fancy free, even though entrepreneurship can be all consuming.
Statistic: Just over half of entrepreneurs were already interested in starting a business when they were in college.
Conclusion: Early interest is often there, but more than a third had no interest at all early on.
Statistic: Over half are serial entrepreneurs, with 2.1 businesses started.
Conclusion: Entrepreneurship seems to agree with these folks and they persevere.
Statistic: About 75% of entrepreneurs indicated a desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur. This factor was even more important to the respondents who grew up in lower upper class families.
Conclusion: Money is a big motivator.
Statistic: Almost 70% of entrepreneurs wanted to pursue a business idea.
Conclusion: Creative thinking seems to play a major role in entrepreneurship.
Statistic: Almost 70% of entrepreneurs wanted to work in a start-up culture.
Conclusion: It is interesting that a creative motivation seems to play such an important role in entrepreneurs.
Statistic: About 65% of entrepreneurs had always wanted to own their own business.
Conclusion: This was a bigger motivator for those from upper lower class backgrounds.
Statistic: About 60% said that working for others did not appeal to them.
Conclusion: This motivator was pretty evenly distributed, from not an important factor to extremely important.
Statistic: 80% of entrepreneurs did not follow this path because they could not find employment.
Conclusion: This finding suggests that, while becoming unemployed may become the motivating factor to kick start a new business venture, it is not the way most entrepreneurs get started.
Statistic: 75% of entrepreneurs had worked as employees in other companies for at least six years before striking out on their own, and many had worked eleven to fifteen years first.
Conclusion: Work experience seems to be important.
How did you rate?
What did you find out about yourself? Are you typical? If not, is that a problem? Maybe not.
Even though there seem to be some very typical characteristics of entrepreneurs, there are few characteristics that are universal (except level of education, but that is becoming a given in the workforce today, so that may not be a big differentiating factor). However, you may want to think about the ways that you differ, and how they may or may not impact your style.