Do you ever feel that you were born to do what you do? That being an entrepreneur, business starter, solopreneur, consultant, or sole practitioner is in your blood? Recent studies indicate that you may be correct. A New York Times article by Scott A. Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western, suggests that perhaps the tendency to venture into entrepreneurial or freelance vocations is at least partially heredity.
Professor Shane, along with Tim Spector and Lynn Cherkas, of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London, and Nicos Nicolaou at the University of Cyprus, have been conducting behavioral genetics (twin) and molecular genetics (association) studies on the subject of entrepreneurship. For over a year, they have been involved in a genome-wide association study to identify specific genes that might be associated with the tendency to be an entrepreneur.
Here are some of the interesting facts they have discovered:
• The tendency to be an entrepreneur is heritable. (We had to look this one up, too … “heritability” is the proportion of difference between individuals explained by genetic factors.) The study shows that even when comparing different aspects of entrepreneurship, the findings of familial similarities is noteworthy. As Shane explains:
“We found these heritabilities were substantive regardless of what indications of entrepreneurship we measured: owning or operating a business, the number of businesses owned and operated, starting a business, the number of businesses started, having engaged in a start-up effort, the number of start-up efforts, being self-employed, or the number of years spent self-employed. The heritabilities can be seen in analysis of multiple databases and can be seen in the research of other scholars as well as our own.
The tendency to identify new business opportunities is also heritable. Plus, the tendency to identify business opportunities and the tendency to start new businesses have a common genetic source. This pattern suggests that genetic factors might influence the odds of people becoming entrepreneurs by affecting their ability to identify new business opportunities.
Self-employment income is heritable, which suggests genetics affects not just the tendency to engage in entrepreneurship but also the ability to perform it.
The tendency to be an entrepreneur and personality traits of extraversion, openness to experience, and sensation-seeking have a common genetic component, as does the recognition of business opportunities and the personality trait of openness to experience. These patterns suggest that our genes might affect our tendency to be entrepreneurs by influencing the types of personalities that we develop.”
Okay, this is a little heavy to read, but it is just one more argument enforcing the idea that each of us has a calling, a purpose, or at least a best direction that is perhaps laid in place before we are even born. People who work successfully—and happily-–may have achieved their goals because they have found their true calling and have responded to this very personal call.
Be sure you check tomorrow’s The Obvious Expert blog, where we will be including a passage from the book, The Obvious Expert, that addresses the power of finding your calling.
photocredit: Ivan Petrov