Whether specific entrepreneurial attitudes and styles influence venture success was the subject of a world-first Australian study.
The 15-year qualitative and quantitative research study benchmarked the motivations of successful entrepreneurs and business builders to answer the question: is an entrepreneur born or can they be developed?
The Australian economy is ripe for innovation with an ideas boom being spurred on by the government’s $1.1 billion innovation commitment and tech success stories such as Atlassian.
More Australians are forgoing a traditional career path to start their own business and are being supported by a rapid increase in incubators and accelerators.
This research looks at whether an entrepreneur is born or if they can be developed, what is it that motivates them and how those motivations can impact venture success.
Who peered into the crystal ball?
The research was conducted by Michelle Duval, CEO and Founder of Equilibrio Coaching and one of the first personal coaches in Australia, to scientifically test the thesis she developed over 20 years of coaching, that people’s motivations and attitudes influence their business outcomes.
“The majority of previous entrepreneurial studies have focused on personality types or traits. This study looks at the attitudes and motivations that distinguish entrepreneurs from the rest of the working population and also how they impact venture success and failure,” she explained.
“Motivations are different from fixed ‘personality traits’, they filter our day-to-day experiences and determine what we pay attention to and how we derive fulfillment and satisfaction. They also change with context.”
The study measured 48 attitudes and motivations and determined that some motivators are more linked with venture success than others and furthermore, that there are correlations between certain motivators and key business milestones such as probability, investments and business longevity.
- While it was expected that entrepreneurs would have higher motivation to turn their ideas into action and focus on money than the rest of the working population, by how much was surprising: 40-43 per cent more.
- While founders are often criticised by corporate leaders and sometimes boards for their low focus on details, procedures and planning, a very low motivation level for structure (a mean of just 8 per cent) was found in those who achieved early stage venture success.
Unlike most research to date, the study also acknowledges the differences between business owners. “Founders are not all the same – some thrive on the start-up phase of building and scaling a business while others build a business that they continue to grow successfully over time, ” Duval said.
“We found that not only are there statistically significant differences between business owners and the rest of the working population – there are major differences in specific entrepreneurial attitudes between business owners depending on where they are in the business journey,” he added.
What did the study find out about business success?
According to the research there are differences in the specific entrepreneurial attitudes correlated with venture success between business builders (who have profitably grown a business over 10 – 15 years) and entrepreneurs (who have started, scaled and exited a business in five years for an exit between $6 million and $1.2 billion).
- Of significant difference is the low priority and attention given to structured planning or use of procedures in early stages and how this priority significantly increases in those leading mature ventures (increase of 37 per cent for business builders).
- Entrepreneurs were found to be more 21 per cent more likely than business builders to be indifferent to rules.
The research findings are licensed to Fingerprint for Success and have been used to develop a new web app and community for assessing and benchmarking entrepreneurial attitudes and for building high performing teams. Check out the infographic below for more on the differences between entrepreneurs and business builders.