Entrepreneur Mindset

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Good Entrepreneur? Hint: It's Not Something You're Born With.

Innovators are exceptional learners and have other soft skills that allow them to triumph over adversity and doubt.
Guest Writer
President and CEO of Kauffman Fellows
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s been said that entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re made.

Said another way, all of us have the skills we need to become successful founders, but it’s the training -- the education, the mentorship, the guidance -- and application of those skills that make the real difference between success and failure in the world of entrepreneurship.

And the numbers back this up.

According to a 2009 study sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and authored by Vivek Wadhwa, the director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the majority of the 549 successful entrepreneurs surveyed did not come from entrepreneurial parents, did not have entrepreneurial drive early in life and, in most cases, did not even have entrepreneurial aspirations while in college.

If these entrepreneurs were “born,” then they got a pretty late start at it.

The fact is, entrepreneurs can be -- and often are -- taught. They are extraordinarily observant, they are visionary thinkers that try to understand what could go right (vs. what could go wrong), and they are exceptional learners. The key is that entrepreneurs need practical, actionable skills, not the abstract knowledge that is often taught in business schools.

Hian Goh, as a founding partner of NSI Ventures, has met with hundreds of new entrepreneurs over the years and has learned some basic truths about them. In short: Successful entrepreneurs all share some basic, non-negotiable traits -- like energy, commitment, persistence, etc. -- but it is the soft skills that really make the difference. In the above clip, he explains why emotional intelligence and self-learning is so critical for entrepreneurs.

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