Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Is entrepreneurship in your genes?

I found a small article on MSNBC that's quite interesting. It's something I've thought a lot about lately, so I thought I'd share.

As you probably know, I completed my MBA in Entrepreneurial Management just this past December. Since I was around 5 (some of my earliest memories), I have always wanted to have my own business.

For years growing up, I thought I'd own a photography studio... but, I didn't just want any studio. I also wanted to package up small darkroom kits that hobbiests could use at home without investing so much money in a traditional darkroom. I wanted to market it as a unique product that wouldn't be available anywhere else. I was 11.

I also remember spending a ton of time thumbing through a wholesale toy catalog (who knows how I it - I must have been 8), amazed at how little a "gross" of toys cost... and wondering how I could get my hands on the things to sell them.

Until a few months ago, I never took the risk to fully branch out into my entrepreneurial self. I came from the sort of place where going it alone is financially risky... too risky. Going to MBA was my chance to bridge my corporate background and my long standing feelings around small business.

The one question I started to think about was WHY? Why did I have these feelings? After all, both of my parents are teachers. My mom is a musician and my dad a psychology teacher. Although they're great teachers, neither of them have ever had an entrepreneurial bone!

That's when I started thinking about my past and where I came from... where I was "exposed" to these ideas? (this is about as deep as it gets in MBA school, so soak it up here folks... lol.) I realized that I wasn't. I think that's what scared me so much about going off on my own... a corporate job is so comfortable; so safe.

But through this process of self discovery, I did find have a revelation: My mom's mom and my mom's brother were both entrepreneurs! My grandmother (Pauline) was 40 when my mom was born and although she was always a part of my life growing up, I never really knew what she *did*.

She was 85 by the time that I was 18. She lived in a small house and that was about the extent of my knowledge. Growing up, I always thought she was extemely poor. It turns out that after graduating high school, my grandmother created all sorts of entrepreneurial business for herself.
I should really get more specifics from my mom, but my grandma at one point was a self employed seamstress. She made and sold her own baked goods. She ran a small housing community that she owned. She managed 3 pieces of other land. She had a little store that I think was hers too.

Growing up, nobody really talked about it. Looking back, she probably didn't always get a lot of credit. She was born around 1911 in Oklahoma; not exactly the year of the woman.

Anyway, my life made a lot more sense after I learned all of that. Even though I never knew it, entrepreneurship was in me.

As I mentioned before, my uncle is also an entrepreneur. He owned an auto repair shop for most of his career. This turned out to be very useful during MBA school when he advised me on a business plan that I was writing about opening my own auto shop!

Isn't it funny the way life works?

Here's that article I promised-- It's from MSNBC and although I'd like to see a few more facts and figures, it's excellent food for thought!

Is entrepreneurship in your genes?
Study indicates that genetics plays strong role in self-employment drive

LONDON - Forget family influence and upbringing. When it comes to being an entrepreneur, genes seem to play an important role, scientists said Monday.
A study of identical twins by researchers in Britain and the United States suggests that family environment has little influence, because nearly half of a person's propensity to be self-employed, or entrepreneurial, is due to genes.

This relatively high heritability suggests the importance of considering genetic factors to explain why some people are entrepreneurial, while others are not,” said Professor Tim Spector of St. Thomas Hospital in London.

(Click for the rest)

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