Why are companies like Apple and Facebook so successful? Is it because of luck, the entrepreneurs behind them, the products and services they offer or a combination of all of these things? The question has puzzled researchers and analysts, but psychologists have moved recently to design scientific experiments to ascertain whether that question can be answered.
A psychologist in Canada set out to determine what exactly makes an entrepreneur's mind work differently from the average person's; is it environmental factors or is it genetically predetermined? What, exactly, sets entrepreneurs apart from everyone else?
Bill Wagner, the author of "The Entrepreneur Next Door," worked with PsychTests to develop a "Entrepreneur Personality Test" to figure out what kinds of traits entrepreneurs possess that help them to push on when most other people would quit, and succeed where others would fail. Much like how the Myers-Briggs personality test assesses a person's psychological profile, the entrepreneurial test evaluates a person's entrepreneurial potential.
To develop the test, researchers worked to measure optimism, risk-taking, networking ability, self-sufficiency, conscientiousness, drive and social skills; so far, 12,000 people have taken the entrepreneurial test and the results are on the one hand surprising, and on the other somewhat predictable.
For example, PsychTests data shows that entrepreneurs who took the test outscored those without business experience on every scale; surprisingly, though, men were shown to be more driven than women in the group's research, with men exhibiting an average score of 67 versus 62 for women. Nonetheless, women had better social skills than men, logging an average of 70 compared to the average score of 67 for men, and also tended to be more optimistic by a slightly larger margin.
Dr. Ilona Jerabek, the president of PsychTests, said the results conclusively show that entrepreneurs think in a different way. "Entrepreneurs clearly have a personality pattern that places them distinctly apart from others," said Dr. Jerabek. "72 percent of test-takers who are entrepreneurs indicate that they are quite comfortable taking monetary or work-related risks, compared to 54 percent of the rest of the test-takers in our sample. Entrepreneurs also tend to describe themselves as being more ambitious than regular people. This says a lot. They know that they are different from others."
There were additional differences in the responses: 41 percent of entrepreneurs rated themselves as being very good at making conversation, while only 27 percent of non-entrepreneurs agreed. Compared to the 20 percent of non-entrepreneurs who said they find it easier to sell things to people, 34 percent of entrepreneurs said they were skilled salespeople.
If you're interested in taking a sample test for yourself, you can try it out here, but you'll have to pay for a full report.