A new survey may help resolve a debate that has raged for years among the self-made set -- whether entrepreneurs are born or made.
The verdict: born. At least that's according to the survey by Northeastern University's School of Technological Entrepreneurship.
Nearly two-thirds of entrepreneurs claim they were inspired to start their own companies by their innate desire and determination, rather than by their education or work experience.
Only 1 percent of more than 200 U.S. entrepreneurs surveyed cited higher education as a significant motivator toward starting their own venture, while 61 percent cited their "innate drive." Other motivators cited were work experience (21 percent) and success of entrepreneurial peers within their industry (16 percent).
"The survey results indicate a major issue in academia today: institutions of higher education are not adequately preparing students for careers in entrepreneurship," Paul Zavracky, dean of School of Technological Entrepreneurship, said in a statement.
While entrepreneurship skills can be taught, the survey results suggest that the desire to be an entrepreneur usually is not. Rather, as 42 percent of survey respondents said they launched their first venture in childhood, it seems as though the enterprising spirit is discovered within the individual, not developed by the individual's experience.
Thirty-three percent of respondents launched their first venture between the ages of 18 and 30; 13 percent between 30 and 40; and only 12 percent started their first business after the age of 40.
The survey also suggests that the majority of entrepreneurs were confident about the success of their first venture. Thirty-two percent said they had no fear that their venture would not succeed, while 42 percent had some fear but characterized themselves as confident. Only 14 percent said they experienced significant fear that their first venture would fail, while 12 percent said fear of failure delayed their leap into entrepreneurship.