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3 Traits You Actually Might Have in Common With the World's Richest Entrepreneurs

New research suggests you likely have more in common with successful entrepreneurs than you think.
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Think you have what it takes to be the next Steve Jobs? Strangely enough, you might.

New research from the Centre for Policy Studies, a London-based think tank, asks how “SuperEntrepreneurs” such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates became self-made billionaires. The study, out this week, examined 1,000 self-made billionaires who have appeared in Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people between 1996 and 2010.

And while there's no exact formula for success--entrepreneurship is risky even among those predisposed to excellence--there are several characteristics that are common among the world's most iconic entrepreneurs. Here are three, along with an infographic (below) with even more success traits:

1. They stay in school.

Mark Zuckerberg may have famously dropped out of Harvard to focus on Facebook, but the majority of successful entrepreneurs, the study finds, are actually very well educated. Of all U.S. SuperEntrepreneurs, 84 percent graduated from college, with 33 percent holding degrees from top-tier universities, as opposed to just 1 percent of the general population. These elite entrepreneurs are also five times more likely to have earned a PhD.

Higher education may also increase an entrepreneur’s chances of receiving venture capital. According to the study, 25 percent of the founders of businesses that received funding had a PhD, while 14 percent were MBA holders. Venture capital, in turn, increases the likelihood of a company's success: 63 percent of U.S. companies that launched IPOs in the last decade were venture-capital funded.

2. They choose wisely. 

What kind of venture an entrepreneur launches can also play a role in whether or not he or she will become a billionaire. The study shows that certain industries are better suited to entrepreneurial pursuits than others: A majority of the SuperEntrepreneurs made their millions through ventures in IT, biotech, finance, and retail. IT and biotech enterprises are also proven more likely to receive funding, as they attract more than half of all U.S. venture-capital investments.

3. They don't discount location.

It's typical for billionaires to have personal traits often seen among entrepreneurs. For instance, creativity, self-confidence, and ambition are commonly present. Yet environmental factors can also play a role. For instance, the country you live in can either help or hinder your entrepreneurial success through its regulatory and tax systems. According to the study, countries with reduced red tape and lower taxes are the most likely to produce successful entrepreneurs.

True to the promise of the American Dream, the U.S. is a fertile breeding ground for entrepreneurship, boasting the third highest concentration of SuperEntrepreneurs. Hong Kong ranks the highest, with around three billionaire entrepreneurs for every million inhabitants. But before you pack up and move to East Asia, just know the odds of success are slightly lower for immigrants, regardless of where you start up. While 13 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, only 11 percent of billionaire entrepreneurs are overall.

Check out this infographic for more on SuperEntrepreneurs:

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Apr 29, 2014

AMY WHYTE

Amy Whyte is an editorial intern for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked as a Web intern at WAAY TV.




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