Talk about clickbait. That headline pulls us in because success, no matter how it is defined, is something we all inherently want.
And we all hope it is as simple as identifying that magic x-factor that will ensure we reach our goal. Too bad it doesn’t work that way.
Dozens of researchers at institutions in around the world have looked into (and are still looking into) startups and entrepreneurship, hoping to define the personality traits linked to success. Most of the studies, published in journals like the International Journal of Business and Management and the New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, involve meta-analysis, a type of statistical analysis that combines results from several different studies.
Each research article makes a point of emphasising the lack of consensus on how to define an entrepreneur and the limitations associated with their work. However, that being said, there is a lot of insight to be found in these white papers.
Before diving in head first, let’s first brush up on the “big five” personality traits. The Big Five, also known by the acronym OCEAN, are openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism, also known as emotional stability. These traits are used broadly to assess an individual’s personality.
Next comes META, a psychometric tool that assesses entrepreneurial performance by looking at entrepreneur proactivity, creativity, opportunism and vision.
Here are the top 10 takeaways after looking at five studies on personality and entrepreneurship:
Point 1: “Personality is a valid predictor of employee job performance, across all occupational groups and managerial levels” – you can determine how successful a person will be at their job based on their personality, regardless of the job or hierarchal level.
Point 2: “Conscientiousness and Emotional Stability are associated with higher job performance” – people who act dutifully, show self-discipline and suffer less from anxiety or depression are likely high performers in the workplace.
Point 3: “A person with willingness or intention to start a business is often high conscientiousness, openness and extraversion and low neuroticism” – dutiful, self-disciplined people with low anxiety, that are intellectually curious and assertive are often people who want to start their own business.
Point 4: “Entrepreneurs are less risk averse than other persons” – entrepreneurs are willing to take chances despite the risk.
Point 5: “A higher level of trust significantly increases the probability of entry in self-employment” – the more trusting a person is the more likely they are to become self-employed.
Point 6: “A main driver of entrepreneurship is the need for autonomy” – independence and being able to act separately from others is one of the main reasons a person becomes an entrepreneur.
Point 7: “It is widely believed that creating a social network is crucial for becoming a successful entrepreneur” – some research suggests that entrepreneurs must be good at networking, creating relationships and navigating social spheres in order to succeed.
Point 8: “Role models compensate for a lack of entrepreneurial experience” – finding a role model can help an entrepreneur who does not have much experience.
Point 9: “Proactivity has the strongest impact on an individual’s positive perception of potential venture opportunities” – proactivity, defined as taking initiative, finding ways to change circumstances and challenging the status quo, has the biggest impact on how positively an entrepreneur views venture-related opportunities.
Point 10: “Entrepreneurial CEOs are most driven by the need for achievement.” – startup CEOs are most motivated by reaching goals and receiving acknowledgement.
The Relationship between the entrepreneurial personality and the Big Five personality traits, 2014
Searching for the Entrepreneurial Personality: New Evidence and Avenues for Further Research, 2011
The Impact of Entrepreneurial Personality Traits on Perception of New Venture Opportunity, 2010
Personality aspects of entrepreneurship: A look at five meta-analyses, 2010
Personality Traits among Entrepreneurial and Professional CEOs in SMEs, 2010