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Are entrepreneurs born or made

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Policy-makers are increasingly looking to entrepreneurs to drive job creation, innovation and economic growth.

In the inaugural Barclays Debate held last week in November, we asked panellists Jamal Edwards, founder of SB.TV; Russell Hall, co-founder of Hailo; Roksanda Ilincic, fashion designer; Doug Richard, founder of the School for Startups, and Greg Davies, Barclays Head of Behavioural Finance whether entrepreneurship is innate or can be taught. They also explored the conditions needed to enable entrepreneurs in the UK to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market.

From genetics and parenting to formal education and the school of life, each entrepreneur credited - to varying degrees - the importance of what they were born with versus what they were taught. They also agreed that entrepreneurs share a number of key characteristics including:

  • Determination
  • A creative mind-set
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Willingness to take risks

There was also broad agreement that a certain amount of luck plays a big role in entrepreneurial success. Some entrepreneurs are born into circumstances that favour their chances of success, or get a lucky break at the right moment. However, there are many factors that can tip the odds in an entrepreneur’s favour and increase their chances of success. Interestingly, academic attainment wasn’t considered a predictor of entrepreneurial success. Indeed, around the room there were many who challenged the ability of a constrained education system to nurture creativity and encourage entrepreneurship.

Competition, while a source of anxiety for many entrepreneurs, can also be a positive force if it drives you to work harder, or provides opportunities to learn from others. Growth was considered a by-product of an entrepreneur’s insatiable appetite to succeed and their passion for what they were doing, which most of the panellists thought of as a ‘born’ characteristic. They all shared the belief that the main motivation behind their success was not money, but the passion and drive that comes from wanting to solve a problem or create something new, and the importance of having the support of family and friends as well as financial backers. Greg’s final conclusion, based on the scientific evidence, that entrepreneurs are born and made, highlights the fundamental importance of identifying, supporting and fostering entrepreneurial capabilities.

Find out more about Citizenship at Barclays Find out more about Citizenship at Barclays

Entrepreneurs are born, not made’ is the first in a series of Barclays Debates that will run throughout 2015. 

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