Anatomy of an Entrepreneur

I think that entrepreneurs are made of 99% perspiration! But the Kauffman foundation for entrepreneurship has a better idea. The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur released in the summer by the Kauffman foundation fprovides insights into high-growth founders’ motivations and their socio-economic, educational and familial backgrounds.

A team of researchers led by Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University, Raj Aggarwal of the University of Akron, Krisztina Holly of the University of Southern California and Alex Salkever of Duke University surveyed 549 company founders of successful businesses in high-growth industries, including aerospace, defense, computing, electronics and health care. I found what they unearthed fascinating – and at the same time not really in line with how I viewed entrepreneurs:

  • Founders tend to be middle-aged and well-educated
  • These entrepreneurs tend to come from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds and they were better educated and more entrepreneurial than their parents
  • Not typically college dropouts!
  • Most entrepreneurs are married and have children – I don’t know how most of them do it since I can barely find the time to play with my dog!
  • These entrepreneuers had an early interest in starting companies
  • Their motivation for becoming entrepreneurs includes building wealth, owning a company, startup culture and capitalizing on a business idea
  • The majority of respondents (75.4  percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies. Nearly half (47.9 percent) launched their first companies with more than ten years of work experience.

The report makes for an interesting read. I wonder how the statistics actually break down when comparing male to female entrepreneurs. Wondering if the motivations could be different.

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