Small Business Column: Entrepreneurs - are they born or made?

With the Leaving Certificate results out and students looking at where life will take them over the next few years, Kehlan Kirwan looks at whether entrepreneurs are born or made

If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you?

With the release of the Leaving Certificate results last week, it conjured up those feelings of dread before the opening of that little brown envelope.

Everything in the future of our lives was contained in a few inches of space. I didn’t enjoy school all that much, it was too sedentary for my liking. Books, books and more books. So many books, so little learning.

What I wouldn’t have given for some of the tech that they have today. For that ability to see what was being talked about, rather than to be told. What the eyes see, the mind believes.

But would I go back and change all of that learning for what I know now? Honestly, no.

There are many things in life that consume our time frivolously, regret is one of them. There is a lot of furious debate as to whether you can make an entrepreneur or if somebody is born with the skill.

Certainly there seems to be many examples of entrepreneurs who were extremely successful without having gone to school or university. But more and more we see the founders of companies being young, post-graduates who have developed what is perceived to be the ‘next big thing’.

So, can you make an entrepreneur or are they born?

Many people will have their say on this and will make compelling arguments to back up their point. However, ultimately it comes down to just one issue, the spark.

Entrepreneurs, true entrepreneurs, have something inside of them that cannot come from books or a classroom.They have the spark inside them which sets them ablaze with the enthusiasm and drive to create. You cannot teach this, because books cannot give it to them.

Sure, you can give somebody book-smarts and teach them about cash flows and so on. However, all of that is worth nothing unless the person, themselves, has that faith in who they are or in their own ability to carry it through.

The entrepreneur Niklaus Zennstrom once said: “If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6pm — last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.”

To commit yourself to something like this and still be happy takes a hell of a lot of courage and self-determination. As entrepreneurs, we each have our own spark, the thing that drives us.

Ultimately, only we can give ourselves that spark. Entrepreneurs are not made, they are born from the desire inside. There is no book for that.

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