This is a guest post from Tim Clark, who writes about money and meaning at Soul Shelter.

Have you ever wondered whether you’re an entrepreneurial “type” of person?

It would seem easy enough to find out: The internet is rife with quizzes promising to assess your “entrepreneur-ability” in terms of personality, skills, experience, and background.

But watch out! Many such tests are nonsense. They’re based on folk wisdom, and lack any basis in rigorous research.

So here’s a reliable true/false quiz to test whether you match the typical profile of an entrepreneur. I adapted these questions from a comprehensive new study of entrepreneurship completed earlier this year by Professor Scott A. Shane (on which more later). In this quiz, the word “entrepreneur” is defined as someone starting a new business of any kind, and includes the solo self-employed.

The Entrepreneurial “Type” Quiz
Answer each question TRUE or FALSE.

  1. People who become entrepreneurs generally share similar psychological profiles such as being leaders, risk-takers, or adventurous.
  2. Most entrepreneurs are under 40 years of age.
  3. Among entrepreneurs, people with strong networking skills outnumber “lone wolfs”.
  4. College-educated people are less likely to become entrepreneurs.
  5. The desire to make money is the most common reason why people become entrepreneurs.
  6. Working for someone else decreases the chances that a person will become an entrepreneur.
  7. Immigrants are more likely than non-immigrants to become entrepreneurs.
  8. Most entrepreneurs work in technology, software, and other high growth sectors rather than in mature industries.

Ready for the answers? Easy enough — all of the statements are FALSE. Here are details:

  1. People who become entrepreneurs generally share similar psychological profiles such as being leaders, risk-takers, or adventurous. FALSE: As a group, entrepreneurs show no consistent or characteristic psychological profiles. For every study concluding that entrepreneurs are adventurous risk-takers, another finds they are timid risk-avoiders.
  2. Most entrepreneurs are under 40 years of age. FALSE: More than 60% of business owners and more than 54% of self-employed workers in the U.S. are 45 years old or older.
  3. Among entrepreneurs, people with strong networking skills outnumber “lone wolfs”. FALSE: Compared to salaried employees, entrepreneurs have fewer mentors and get less help from other people.
  4. College-educated people are less likely to become entrepreneurs. FALSE: College education (though not necessarily graduation) is more common among entrepreneurs.
  5. The desire to make money is the most common reason why people become entrepreneurs. FALSE: The most common reason for becoming an entrepreneur is the wish to avoid working for others. In fact, most entrepreneurs earn less than they would in comparable salaried jobs.
  6. Working for someone else decreases the chances that a person will become an entrepreneur. FALSE: Experience as a salaried employee increases the probability that someone will become an entrepreneur.
  7. Immigrants are more likely than non-immigrants to become entrepreneurs. FALSE: Immigrants are no more likely than their non-immigrant compatriots to start their own businesses.
  8. Most entrepreneurs work in technology, software, and other high growth sectors rather than in mature industries. FALSE: Worldwide, the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs work in mature, mundane industries such as food service and insurance. Relatively few entrepreneurs work in innovative or high-growth sectors.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re an over-40, married, college-educated white male with ten years experience in a mature industry, you most closely match the profile of the typical entrepreneur in the United States today.

Pretty uninspiring, huh? The reality behind received wisdom often is.

The good news is that these facts say nothing about the vast individual differences between people, or your particular aptitude or appetite for entrepreneurship.

Remember, this is all based on plain, boring demographics that happen to add up to a counter-intuitive profile of entrepreneurs (again, where “entrepreneur” is defined as including all self-employed people). I compiled this quiz from an extremely readable book by Professor Scott A. Shane entitled The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By.

Here’s my takeaway: Forget the web quizzes. Read my entrepreneurship primer, sit down with a double espresso, and start planning your own entrepreneurial venture — regardless of your “type”.

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