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What makes a real entrepreneur?

12 January 2018

True entrepreneurs are not motivated by competitiveness but by the desire to be their own boss and take creative risks.

That is the central finding of research being presented today, Friday 12 January, by John Hackston, Chartered Psychologist and Head of Thought Leadership at OPP, at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference of the Division of Occupational Psychology in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The study surveyed an international sample of more than 800 people representing a range of job functions from varying types and sizes of organisation.

Whilst 41 per cent of respondents believed themselves to be entrepreneurs, the 32 per cent who were classified as real entrepreneurs had set up their own business and were currently the sole or joint owner of their organisation.

The entrepreneurs were found to have a higher orientation for creativity, risk-taking, and autonomy, but there was no significant difference in competitive ambition between them and the non-entrepreneurs.

This group of true entrepreneurs included people from each of the following eight MBTI core characters of personality:


The research found that it was not the personality type that contributed to being a successful entrepreneur, although extraverted personality types such as explorer were more heavily represented, but having the knowledge to apply these skills effectively.

This led to the production of guidelines for entrepreneurs from each of the eight core characters, suggesting ways in which they can harness the strengths and mask the weaknesses of their personality.

John Hackston said:

“Our findings are important for both individuals considering setting up their own business and organisations who wish to encourage staff with an entrepreneurial nature.

“We found that businesses which were more entrepreneurial in nature were more financially successful, although it is important to consider how to balance instinct with financial risk.

“Using these guidelines to allow staff to self-manage and experiment in an effective way for their personality will allow them to maximise the strength of individuals.” 


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