Entrepreneurs are both born and made

Ursula le Guin’s writing on where writers get their ideas from throws light on the age old question of whether entrepreneurs are born or made. The short answer is a bit of both.

On the ‘secret’ of being a writer Le Guin says:

The “secret” is skill. If you haven’t learned how to do something, the people who have may seem to be magicians, possessors of mysterious secrets. In a fairly simple art, such as making pie crust, there are certain teachable “secrets” of method that lead almost infallibly to good results; but in any complex art, such as housekeeping, piano-playing, clothes-making, or story-writing, there are so many techniques, skills, choices of method, so many variables, so many “secrets,” some teachable and some not, that you can learn them only by methodical, repeated, long-continued practice — in other words, by work.

The conclusion is that with sufficient application and persistence any of us can be a writer. I think the same is true of entrepreneurship. All of the tricks and methods of successful entrepreneurs are learnable.

However, we are all born with pre-dispositions. Again from Le Guin:

My talent and inclination for writing stories and keeping house were strong from the start, and my gift for and interest in music and sewing were weak; so that I doubt that I would ever have been a good seamstress or pianist, no matter how hard I worked.

The pre-dispositions that an entrepreneur needs are things like ambition, a tolerance for risk, a love for highs and lows, a desire to make an impact and a love of the limelight. Without at least some of these it will be tough to find the courage to get started and the energy to stick with it when the going gets tough.

There are other characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, e.g. tenacity and charisma, but this list of basic pre-dispositions is interesting to reflect upon.