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What makes a student become an entrepreneur?

Is the entrepreneurial instinct something that’s built into someone’s personality? Or can demographics influence and shape budding entrepreneurs? A recent study has shown that traits such as a desire to be in control and a willingness to innovate are strong in young entrepreneurs. No surprises there, perhaps – but their willingness to take risks and the desire to achieve success was found to be similar in non-entrepreneurs as well.

So, what are the key factors in shaping a student into an entrepreneur?

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1. Gender

Entrepreneurship has been traditionally associated with instincts like risk-taking and the desire to be a high achiever. Women are increasingly likely to become entrepreneurs now than in the past, with research in the USA, Spain and China showing there was little difference in entrepreneurial intent of students whether they were male or female.

2. Age

The entrepreneurial instinct is strongest in the young, with those aged up to 30 more willing to take a risk and try something new in business. Research shows that this willingness to invest time and effort into taking a chance reduces as people get older, when they have more to lose.

3. Stream of education

Formally studying business or management is shown to increase the likelihood that a student will want to become an entrepreneur. The Indian Institute of Technology’s survey showed that 59.62 per cent of entrepreneurially-inclined students were on a business course rather than on a non-business-oriented one.

4. Family business background

A family history in self-employment and entrepreneurship has shown to be a major influence in students going down a similar path. The survey showed that 75 per cent of the students with an entrepreneurial intention came from a family that had a background in business. But that does not necessarily mean that young people always follow in their family’s footsteps – 48.82 per cent, nearly half of students from a family in business were not planning to become an entrepreneur.

5. Personality traits

Certain personality traits are shared among entrepreneurs. Those who can convert an idea into a viable business have a higher internal locus of control – the belief that they are in control of the events in their life. The study also backed up other views of the nature of entrepreneurs, such as their ability to deal with ambiguities and uncertainties in business, being highly self-confident and showing a willingness to innovate.

Read more! You can find out more about the survey’s findings in ‘Demographic factors, personality and entrepreneurial inclination’ published in Education + Training.

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