Obviously this starts as a generalization. Some entrepreneurs are high flying academics. But why do we hear about so many dropping out of college? To some extent, it's because the education system in the US and the UK drums into us from a young age to conform: from forcing us to take certain subjects to stringent exam technique, naughty kids are punished and those who abide by the rules are rewarded.

According to some research nearly 16% of the 400 most affluent Americans do not have a college degree. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and Richard Branson never ever made it to college. So why is this? I read the Caliendo and Kritikos paper on entrepreneurial personality to dig deeper:

1. Entrepreneurship Asks You To Take Risks

Research on the whole suggests that people who are risk takers are more likely to be successful entrepreneurs. But it's not linear. Those with particularly low or high risk attitude don't survive as entrepreneurs as well as those with a medium-level risk attitude. Basically, a successful entrepreneurs takes risk in their stride, but does not seek it out -- they're not gamblers.

School, on the whole, discourages you from taking risks. Schools, at least in the UK, are driven by stringent bodies of bureaucrats that strangle them onerous loop jumping. Schools are encouraged to put their pupils in for easier exams, so their results as a school look better. In the snowflake era, we dictate that everyone's a winner. If there's nothing to lose, then surely there's nothing to gain? In the UK, there's a new type of school in town trying to combat this. Free Schools aim to encourage competition in schools, and offer a classical liberal education -- full of music, drama and sport.

2. Entrepreneurship Asks You To Be Independent

Autonomy is a key pull for entrepreneurs. Research indicates that entrepreneurs have a psychological demand for autonomy over their work, and they're willing to sacrifice pay in the short term, to satiate this first need. Think Elon Musk, when he was living on hardly any money so he could put all his savings into his company as capital. Or the founder of The Culture Trip, who took the leap from a secure job as a doctor, to set up a social media travel website -- they've now raised $22 million in 2 rounds of funding from 5 investors.

And what does school teach you about independence? It holds your hand: structured day plans, instead of independent research it's strictly set homework, and your subjects are chosen for you.

3. Entrepreneurship Asks You To Color Outside the Box

Conformity is rife in school: you get bullied if you're different, you get in trouble if you question authority - no wonder so many successful people hated school. Entrepreneurs defy conformity. They make the world a better place because they don't accept the status quo.

I think this Jobs quote sums up what I'm trying to say perfectly: "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Published on: Oct 3, 2017
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