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Business Beat: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

This summer with fishing on the banks of the Elk River with my two teenage sons, I was asked if I think entrepreneurs are born or made. It’s a common question posed when people find out that I work with entrepreneurs of all sorts and ages. I would have liked to give a simple answer. There isn’t one, though.

I don’t think entrepreneurs are unique or that they are born with anything that most of us are not. I do think successful people (and entrepreneurs) exhibit vision, actualize goals and pivot better than most.

I’ve noticed a lot of great entrepreneurs and leaders share these common abilities and are able to affect the success of not only themselves but the people, and the organizations around them. They naturally attract customers and investment when others in the marketplace do not.

Visioning well means imagining a future without limits and understanding what matters and inspires a higher purpose outcome. Imagination and creative thinking are the foundations of vision and are key to continuing to build on a preferred future state. You know, the ability to dream.

Actualizing goals means entrepreneurs stop thinking and start doing. They make the call no one else wants to make, take the chance on things that aren’t a sure win, and with every move align to their vision. You know, the ability to move forward strategically.

Pivoting better means taking the necessary action on what’s working and failing. Both the disappointments and successes fuel business growth and allow for experimentation and humility. You know, the ability to assess situations truthfully, reflect and find a new direction with speed.

So my answer to whether entrepreneurs are made or born: I think we are all born to be entrepreneurs. We often though need support, new skills, different perspectives and a motivation beyond ourselves to really thrive in business. Not every venture works and not every entrepreneur succeeds, and that’s OK.

And by the way, it was the owner of the cabin resort nestled in the mountains who asked me this question. He had started this new venture after a career and business in the Alberta oilfield. As we talked entrepreneurship and his startup journey, it was clear to me that he had vision, took action and pivoted when necessary, in both business and life.

And he was a great example of an entrepreneur made, not born.

Christie Wilson is an entrepreneur outreach coordinator at Medicine Hat College and the APEX Entrepreneurship Incubator.

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