Quiz: Are You the Entrepreneurial “Type”?

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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Guest
Guest
12 years ago

“If you’re an over-40, married, college-educated white male with ten years experience in a mature industry”

White ?? I thought “Immigrants are no more likely than their non-immigrant compatriots to start their own businesses.” Which means the color of one’s skin does not matter ?

Susy
Susy
12 years ago

Mr Chiot’s and I are entrepreneurs. We started our own business 4 years ago when we were 26 (and before that we had several small side businesses). We are both college educated (bachelor’s degrees). Our business is a small productions company, we make corporate videos, commercials, film weddings, and build and maintain websites. I guess we don’t fit the typical entrepreneurial type. My parents always instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me. I started my first business when I was in grade school. I had a very successful popsicle & chocolate business. My parents gave me seed money, but after that… Read more »

A. Dawn
A. Dawn
12 years ago

Great post. Shows some common myths about entrepreneurs are wrong such as number 1, 2, and number 3. I would like to mention one article I wrote about Internet entrepreneurship – Do Not Quit Your Job Right After Reading This Article – http://adawnjournal.com/2008/05/25/do-not-quit-your-job-right-after-reading-this-article/
Cheers,
A Dawn Journal
http://www.adawnjournal.com

Andrea >> Become a Consultant
Andrea >> Become a Consultant
12 years ago

Great observations. After 15 years of working with entrepreneurs, I agree that there’s no real “profile” that equates to self employment. I’ve seen all sorts of people start and run businesses.

I’m intrigued by the statement that entrepreneurs are less likely to have mentors. My understanding is that successful business owners are more likely than other business owners to have great mentors, support networks, advisors and so on. In fact, I just read a research report on this.

Donny Gamble
Donny Gamble
12 years ago

There is no greater time to be an entrepreneur than now. The job market is on the decline and major corporations have been reducing their employees to cut company cost. By being an entrepreneur allows you the ability to make as much money as you want.

A. Dawn
A. Dawn
12 years ago

Totally agree with Donny. Entrepreneurs, specially Internet entrepreneurs are recession proof. Darren had a nice piece on this – 13 Tips to Recession Proof Your Blog http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/10/16/13-tips-to-recession-proof-your-blog/ Darren is the one who pioneered money making in blogging. Follow the link I mentioned under comment 3 to know more about this.
Cheers,
A Dawn Journal
http://www.adawnjournal.com

Clara
Clara
12 years ago

The stat that most entrepreneurs are over 40 seems a bit misleading — presumably many of them have been entrepreneurs since they were a lot younger. I’d be more interested to hear the average age people are when they START their entrepreneurial careers!

Dana
Dana
12 years ago

This post illustrates some things I’ve felt about business ownership for quite some time. In my case, I got off to a decent start as an employee and was frequently complimented for being a hard worker, but then I got out into the civilian world and the corporate world–my first experiences had been in a mom ‘n’ pop business and then the military–and I discovered I had a major aversion to workplace drama, customer drama (i.e., customers inventing problems where there had been none previously–trust me, a vocal minority do this), power trips, and other assorted fun stuff. This led… Read more »

Mrs. Micah
Mrs. Micah
12 years ago

Only recently did I realize that I’m an entrepreneur of sorts. I never really framed it that way, but besides some part-time work I do for other people I really do run my own tiny company. It makes up more than half of my income. And you’re right, it’s not for the money. Nor am I a risk-taker or adventurous person in most areas of my life. In fact, I think eventually I’ll have a salaried job (once I get into the field I want)…but I’ll still work on the side a few hours a month because I get a… Read more »

Justin
Justin
12 years ago

I love it that the cover image of the book you cite at the end of the post is a scan from what’s obviously a library book – a great reminder to borrow rather than buy from Amazon, my source for most book images.

Sancy
Sancy
11 years ago

I got such a kick out of this quiz!!! I answered all the questions one way, thinking, “I’ll never make it, I’m such a loser.” Then I find out I’m right! {{{{JOY}}}} I love non-cultural-stereotype people and approaches. Maybe I’ve been waiting and needing to open my own business all along. I especially like the “team player/lone wolf comparison”, as I am the Goddess of Lone Wolves (personally, I prefer the term “strongly independent person” to “lone wolf.” ) Teams make me vomit, in all honesty, except in the sports world,where they belong. Teams keep the individual, strong-minded person down,… Read more »

Tia'ne
Tia'ne
7 years ago

I like that the true/false above is based on demographic facts. It is similar to Australia I tried several quizzes such as “do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur” and “are you suited to self employment” from different sites. I was honest in my answers but they all sucked in their wrong tally score. For example, when one answers all 5 questions of the UK site’s allaboutyou.com with answers that are clearly all about dedication (eg put all effort into the first month’s one & only contract while emailing for more customers, put off household chores, say… Read more »