Tom Evslin, author of an amazing blog and an all round admirable man had a weird post yesterday. It is some kind of a pop quiz which tells you at the end of it if you are an entrepreneur. The idiotic thing is if you take the quiz then you are not an entrepreneur since, according to Mr. Evslin, if you have time to read lists, you are not fit to be one.
Boy, but that is a good test.
He also brings up that old shibboleth of “entrepreneurs are born, not made” I think someone should take this particular myth outside and put it to rest once for all. I can think of a bunch of people who had no interest in starting up a business, but ended up doing one because they could not find a better way to achieve their goals. Narayana Murthy certainly does not fit this mold; neither does Ashok Soota. In fact none of the people who have created big businesses in India or China in last 15-20 years have neither the genes nor the environment to deliberately choose an entrepreneurial option. On the other hand, I would say starting a business in India or Asia is still an act of insanity since there is so much social stigma attached to failure in addition to a total absence of financial safety net.
Panasonic did a study in UK about what makes people begin a business. I find their conclusions totally intuitive and inline with what I am going through currently:
The main conclusion that surprised Panasonic was how little planning went into the process. “About 54% of UK businesses start without any business planning at all, so they’re often described as accidental entrepreneurs,” he says. “Something forces a change in their life, normally it would appear to be in their 30s, prompting them from doing what they’re doing to being an entrepreneur.” These prompts can be redundancy, a geographical move, anything. “We found the spark that makes that happen doesn’t necessarily leap from, ‘I’m going to do this’ to, ‘I’m going to make a plan’.”
I believe that like majority of human activities, entrepreneurship cannot be canned or categorized or predicted. There are just too many variables that play a complex role in determining if someone can and will begin a business on their own.