Entrepreneurs are the engine of the economy. They create new wealth, new jobs, new products and new services.
Taken that this is the case is it possible to create entrepreneurs or are some people just born that way? And if it is possible to encourage entrepreneurship are the factors that influence women any different from those that motivate men?
There are many examples of inspirational women throughout the3rdi magazine this month and throughout the archive and you can read their stories to see whether or not you think they are the product of their genes or their environment.
My personal view is that most human beings are not risk takers – even the most successful entrepreneur has usually had his or her hand forced by the circumstances of their life at a particular time. I had always thought about running my own business and may well have got around to it at some point. But it was the coming together of other factors in my life that made January 1990 the perfect time to take the plunge.
Yes, if you read my profile last month you will see that you can identify entrepreneurial moments throughout my early years but hindsight is a wonderful thing and if I hadn’t gone on the create a number of successful incidents those events may well have been interpreted differently.
So if the environment has an effect at least in the timing of when people with an entrepreneurial streak take the first step, are those influencing factors different for men and women? A recent report (Kauffman, May 2010) makes interesting reading.
They found that women who choose to become entrepreneurs are motivated by five factors;
- the desire to build wealth
- the desire to exploit an idea they’d had
- the appeal of the start up culture
- a long standing desire to run their own business
- the desire not to work for someone else
And encouragement was especially important to women. More than half of the women surveyed (but less than a third of the men) said that they were motivated to become entrepreneurs by someone else, a family member or entrepreneurial friend who acted as a role model.
This echoes my own experience and one of the reasons I think it is particularly important that women in early stage ventures in particular are matched with appropriate mentors.
The survey also found that were almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to get their main funding from business partners rather than from external sources.
If we concentrate on improving the factors that have allowed the current crop of women entrepreneurs to be successful;
- good mentors and role models
- support and encouragement
- well developed professional networks
will not only encourage more women to take the plunge but will also help those who already have a toe in the water to become successful.