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Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

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This story appears in the October 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's an age-old question: Are entrepreneurs a special breed, born into this world with a drive and need to succeed that most of humanity lacks, or can they can be created through education, experience and mentorship? We spoke to two academics who have strong opinions on the matter.

That question has taken on urgency recently. In the past five years, multiple studies have indicated that there may be an "entrepreneur gene"--or at least that people with certain genetic characteristics and personality traits are more likely to be successful entrepreneurs than others. In his 2010 book Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders, Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, suggests that genes don't just influence whether a person will start a business; they may even determine how much money a person will earn. In other words, some people are born to be alpha wolves, and the rest will work in the mailroom.

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