Born to lead?

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As much as training can develop the skills of the business person, research this week shows a number of traits that entrepreneurs often have in common.

According to the study, by Alliance and Leceister Commercial Bank, six in ten (60%) business owners are the first born child, while more than four in five (85%) have one or more siblings, putting to good use leadership and teamwork qualities learnt at a young age.

The character traits most successful entrepreneurs believe they have in common also show a talent for teamwork, namely being dependable (43%), considerate (22%) and a good listener (22%).

Private education seems to have little influence compared to natural entrepreneurial flair, with nearly three quarters (71%) coming from a state school background. However, further education does help. Nearly a fifth (17%) of business owners left education with GCSEs or O levels, while over a third (34%) were educated to degree level and almost one in five (18%) continued to secure a Masters or PhD.

Meanwhile, a wealthy background appears to deter entrepreneurialism, with more than nine out of ten successful business people describing themselves as either middle-class (50%) or working class (43%).

The research reveals that a third (33%) started their business between the ages of 26 and 35 and London is the most likely place for a small business to start up, with two fifths (40%) of entrepreneurs launching their future empire in the capital.

Nearly all entrepreneurs are united in sharing the same motivations for starting up. Nearly two thirds (62%) wanted independence, over half (56%) wanted more control over their lives and almost six in ten (57%) wanted to be their own boss so they didn't have to answer to anybody else.

  • The research, undertaken for Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank by YouGov Plc, surveyed 843 business owners with a turnover of less than £1 million.
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