Innovators are exceptional learners and have other soft skills that allow them to triumph over adversity and doubt.
It’s been said that entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re made.
Said another way, all of us have the skills we need to become successful founders, but it’s the training—the education, the mentorship, the guidance—and application of those skills that make the real difference between success and failure in the world of entrepreneurship.
And the numbers back this up.
According to a 2009 study sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and authored by Vivek Wadhwa, the director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the majority of the 549 successful entrepreneurs surveyed did not come from entrepreneurial parents, did not have entrepreneurial drive early in life and, in most cases, did not even have entrepreneurial aspirations while in college.
If these entrepreneurs were “born,” then they got a pretty late start at it.
The fact is, entrepreneurs can be—and often are—taught. They are extraordinarily observant, they are visionary thinkers that try to understand what could go right (vs. what could go wrong), and they are exceptional learners. The key is that entrepreneurs need practical, actionable skills, not the abstract knowledge that is often taught in business schools.
Hian Goh, as a founding partner of NSI Ventures, has met with hundreds of new entrepreneurs over the years and has learned some basic truths about them. In short: Successful entrepreneurs all share some basic, non-negotiable traits—like energy, commitment, persistence, etc.—but it is the soft skills that really make the difference. In the above clip, he explains why emotional intelligence and self-learning is so critical for entrepreneurs.
The following story was a column by Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach in Entrepreneur. Jeff Harbach (Class 16) is President and CEO of Kauffman Fellows. Jeff has been an entrepreneur and investor since 2002, and was Executive Director of the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), based out of Austin, TX, from 2011–2013, where he served his fellowship. He has led multiple startups, including two 7-Eleven stores, a luxury furniture store and interior design firm, and a private country club golf network. He was also an angel investor himself with the Vegas Valley Angels. Jeff holds a BS from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin. firstname.lastname@example.org