Psychologists Throw Away Entrepreneur Identikit

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Psychologists peeping behind the curtain to see which qualities make entrepreneurs tick were surprised to find their results differed from stereotyping.

Many view entrepreneurs as a single, lonely and uncommunicative species, but the research by Cambridge University for Barclays Bank showed the opposite – that many are not cast in the mould of Richard Branson, James Dyson or Mark Zuckerberg.

Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 entrepreneurs and employees in the UK, Germany, Singapore and the US to come up with the results.

Vesselin Popov at the university’s psychometrics centre said: “These psychometric results debunk the myth of the superhero chief executive. Entrepreneurs do have a different mindset from employees but they are diverse and often misunderstood.”

The study drafted three typical entrepreneur profiles – women, seniors – generally men over 50 years old and migrants and found:

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Women Entrepreneurs

  • Women were less boastful than men, with 42% claiming their business prospers compared to almost two-thirds of men. However, businesses run by women on average report higher profits
  • Women display morel ambition, with 47% expressing an interest in starting another business within three years compared to 18% of men
  • Women look for steady growth and reinvest profits rather than take equity investment. Men take more risks to achieve fast growth and a quick exit.

Senior Entrepreneurs:

  • Freedom from a boss fuels their incentive to start a business for 70% of men over 50 compared to around half of those aged under 50
  • Personal success is the prime motivator, although they have the same capacity for risk, innovation and initiative as younger entrepreneurs
  • Senior entrepreneurs are open, outgoing and conscientious leaders

Migrant Entrepreneurs:

  • Migrants back one in seven UK companies that create 14% of all small business jobs.
  • Tend to be less rash than national entrepreneurs and are not so concerned about personal autonomy.
  • Trust fate and luck more than good judgment

Greg Davies, head of behavioural and quantitative finance at Barclays, said: “Entrepreneurs are often grouped together as a single entity, but our research shows this is not correct.

“They suffer from stereotyping which is just not fair because many have aspects to their characters that run opposite to the general view.

“Entrepreneurs play an important role in the economy and we need to a better understanding of how they approach business and how to help them develop.”

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