21 Entrepreneurs Debate if You Can Learn to be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is more than a popular buzzword. It is a way of life. There has been an ongoing argument about whether entrepreneurs are born or made so we asked entrepreneurs and business owners if someone can learn to be an entrepreneur. Below you will find responses from a community of entrepreneurs and business owners.

#1 – Genetic Trait

Image Credit: Jacqueline Darna

Entrepreneurship is a complex set of integral wiring, kind of like electricity, that manifests itself in an outward expression as a light switch. This switch can be turned on or off at any time, but the inner wiring is a genetic trait to be entrepreneurs or at least to have that drive. #1) I believe you are born and entrepreneur. I have had the not so pleasurable experience of trying to teach people who are not entrepreneurial how to be an entrepreneur and they can form a company on paper but having that creative drive to keep a company thriving is lacking or the ability to know when to exit and start on the next idea. #2) Something has to happen in order to trigger that light to be ignited and for the outward expression of entrepreneurship to come alive. For example, you lost your job, the job that you had is no longer available after returning to the workforce with children so you are forced into creating your own company, or you come up with an award winning product like me, that instantly stops headaches and helps to decrease migraines in the future naturally from NoMo Migraine. An idea so revolutionary but simplistic that if you did not cotton the idea and build an Empire around the product lines, someone else would. #3) joining an entrepreneurial ecosystem by attending events, going to conferences, learning positive habits of productive people, and networking with mentors who know the entrepreneurial space in your area is crucial. Remember business is the business of people not products or services.

Thanks to Jacqueline Darna, NoMo Nausea!

#2 – Genetic Trait Passed from Generation to Generation

Image Credit: Kali Ventresca

It is a coincidence that I came across this query today as I was just talking about the root and cause of the entrepreneurship life with my sister the other day. My sister, Noelle, and I are entrepreneurs and co-owners of Impish Lee, a fully customizable intimate apparel brand. We launched our online customizer/design tool about a year and a half ago. Our business is growing but we are still by all means a small startup still. Noelle and I were discussing the entrepreneurship life the other day and realized that every single person in our family from our parents and grandparents generations (on both sides) are entrepreneurs or work for themselves. This realization lead me to believe that perhaps the entrepreneurs spirit is indeed a trait you are born with or not, like a genetic trait passed from generation to generation. Still I feel that there was/is plenty of learning (and there will continue to be) involved in becoming a successful entrepreneur. But I think the desire to start your own business may just be something you either have or you don’t.

Thanks to Kali Ventresca, Impish Lee!


#3 – Absolutely

Image Credit: Arielle Levitan

Absolutely! I would argue you can be taught or teach yourself to become an entrepreneur. We are two physicians who founded Vous Vitamin almost 3 years ago. We had NO business background at all but we had what we knew to be a great idea. We also were fortunate to have a few successful entrepreneur friends who inspired us to turn the idea into a reality. When we said we needed a business person to help us they pushed us to realize that we were smart, used to learning new things and we had many of the skills needed to build a business even if we did not have the formal training. Three years later I would say they were correct. We have learned a ton along the way and continue to learn and grow each day. It turns out that being physicians did give us some of the skills needed to build a business and we continue to learn and acquire new skills daily. Perhaps the most important skill is the willingness and ability to talk to other people to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. We are much better at follow through and execution than many people out there in the business world, perhaps because we are used to formulating plans and acting on them hundreds of times a day. We have also learned from reading tons of books by other entrepreneurs from Tim Ferriss to Howard Schultz. A little How to never hurts. The bottom line is anyone can do this with the right inclination and motivation.

Thanks to Arielle Levitan M.D., Vous Vitamin LLC!

#4 – Nature and Nurture

Image Credit: Oren Greenberg

As with many theories, there’s usually a combination of nature and nurture. To be brought up by an enterprising family breeds entrepreneurship, and so can being born into a difficult economic situation; necessity breeds innovation, and this can be a stimulus – though not easy. That said, you also need an awful lot of luck to be a successful entrepreneur. And eventually, you need access to resources in order to scale and grow your business. I believe that entrepreneurship comes from the heart, and to be successful you must be true to your values and ambitions. But to be a successful entrepreneur, you can’t rely purely on this – there are nuanced approaches that cumulatively give you the edge over competitors, and you can only really learn these from experienced teachers. It’s the inner steel which keeps an entrepreneur fighting, but learning tricks from others may smoothen the journey to success, and help an entrepreneur avoid fatal pitfalls.

Thanks to Oren Greenberg, Kurve!

#5 – Can be Taught

Image Credit: Melissa Toledo

I think entrepreneurship can be taught, especially when you grow up witnessing the drive of someone you admire. It comes down to how bad you want to fulfill your dream and you just have to keep at it if that's really what you want. I've been fortunate that my husband has been my biggest supporter and when things are not going the way I hoped, it also helps to think about the countless people that started at the bottom and years later are doing amazing things in this country and in the world. It confirms that anything is possible if you just keep going.

Thanks to Melissa Toledo, Bon Vivant PR!

#6 – Learn to Release Your Inner Entrepreneur

Image Credit: Reb Risty

I’m an example of how you can learn to release your inner entrepreneur. When I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in Communications, all I knew was I needed to find a job. Starting my own business was never a thought in
my mind or so I thought. Little did I know there was a little spark buried deep in me. I worked for a couple of years at the Graduate School of Business at San Diego State University as a program manager and was surrounded by MBA students. With some encouragement of my colleagues and student interns, I decided to enroll in the part-time MBA program. I started with a marketing emphasis and then added entrepreneurship. I took my first entrepreneurship class with Giles Bateman, former CFO for Price Club, which became Costco. Being in the entrepreneurship program exposed me to successful entrepreneurs and other like-minded students. It made me realize I wanted so much more than just a job. From there I partnered with fellow classmates to work on real business projects. I finished the program by participating in two business plan competitions, where we pitched to real VCs. After graduation, I went to work for Qualcomm and then a few other positions. When I was laid off in 2008, my husband and I invested in a small franchise. It was the best feeling in the world to see it open and grow. I then started my consulting business, RebL Marketing. This year, I hired 4 people, and the business just keeps growing. The most exciting part is I’m providing jobs for people. My business makes a difference.

Thanks to Reb Risty, RebL Marketing!

#7 – Anyone Can Learn It

Image Credit: Nadine Sabulsky

Absolutely anyone can learn to be an entrepreneur. One key things to realize is, when you're an entrepreneur your background doesn't matter but your story does. Spend time figuring out what you really want to do, and why. I've had 9 different businesses in just as many industries, but the prior 8 were just ideas I had to make money. Now that I've found my true passion, this business has lasted longer and been more successful than the others. The story of what you created and why, is what will sell your product. If you had a problem and this idea solves it, chances are others do too. Your target market is people like you who had that same problem.

Thanks to Nadine Sabulsky, The Naked Life Coach!

#8 – No One Size Fit All

Image Credit: Kyle Mani

Becoming a successful entrepreneur takes years of focus in one’s industry with the individual demonstrating a high level of energy, resourcefulness, and adaptability. It also requires excellent communication skills, including the ability to inspire employees with your vision, having strong deal-making abilities, and the ability to gain the respect of others. Extroverts tend to have an advantage, but there are more and more examples of introverts (who may communicate by leading by example) can also be outstanding entrepreneurs and CEOs. There is no ‘one size fit all’

Thanks to Kyle Mani, OWDT!

#9 – It's Possible, However…

Image Credit: Simone Vincenzi

I believe it's possible to teach entrepreneurship. However there are so many skills that make The Perfect Entrepreneur that it's difficult to teach them all at the same time. Marketing, Sales, Product Creation, Team Management, Communication, Accountancy, etc… I think organisations and schools can teach those skills by getting people involved in hands on entrepreneurial simulations and incubators so the participants can develop those skills in a fun and safe environment. I would recommend everyone who wants to start a business to take it easy and set aside time to work on those skills that will allow them to run profitable companies. Using those methods I helped hundreds of people starting the business of their dreams.

Thanks to Simone Vincenzi, GTeX!

#10 – Not for the Faint of Heart

Image Credit: Beckie Manley

I have wanted to be an entrepreneur every since I was a little girl. I planned my college degree, the first ten years of my career, and every choice I made during that time with the goal of owning my own company when I felt I was ready and when the time was right. I purposely put myself under really smart people and teams so I could learn and I paid attention to every detail of every business I worked with, from sales to HR to invoicing to client relationships. I got involved in everything I could be a part of with each company so I could learn—networking groups that met at 6 am, marketing events, speaking gigs, and serving on boards. The desire to be an entrepreneur was always present in my heart, driving me every day to become what I am today—the owner of an ad agency. I am not sure if you can teach that inherent yearning to be an entrepreneur, the insatiable work ethic required, and the people skills and confidence needed to never take no for an answer that personally drove me—but I do believe you can train for the skills required to succeed. I think you have to have something in you that is made for it that anchors you through the really difficult situations you face on the entrepreneurial journey. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Thanks to Beckie Manley, Fierce Strategy + Creative!

#11 – You Can Teach Someone to be an Entrepreneur

Image Credit: Lara Sengupta

I have been running my own business for just over a year now and its been a huge and amazing learning experience. I never have a huge ‘business drive' inside of me growing up and have always though business was too ruthless and money-oriented for my liking. However, I think ‘business' is what you make it. I was so inspired by TOMS shoes story that I wanted to create a business that inspired me and everyone around me. I definitely think you can teach someone to be an entrepreneur, they just need to identify what they are passionate about and what is their 5 year vision? Do they want to help people all over the world (like TOMS), do they want to find a solution to a huge and ongoing problem (like Uber), or do they just want to become rich (which is fine too!). The entrepreneurs then needs to find role models with similar visions (and avoid getting trapped into following a vision that is not theirs) and create their own path with these inspirations.

Thanks to Lara Sengupta, Cork Yogis!

#12 – Built & Refined

Image Credit: Neil Mclaren

Entrepreneurship is a thought-process that can be taught, adopted, and perfected. No one is naturally born with the insights, skills, confidence and patience needed to be a successful entrepreneur. Instead, these things are built and refined by immersing yourself in entrepreneurship through books, business conferences, and mentorship. The more you are immersed in learning, the quicker that these skills will naturally grow. Building a business is like putting together a giant puzzle and each tidbit of information you learn along the way is one more piece that fits into your  puzzle. Read books by successful entrepreneurs and surround yourself with individuals who are already doing the things you want to do in the future.

Thanks to Neil Mclaren,!

#13 – Just Like a Sport

Image Credit: Vinil Ramdev

Entrepreneurship is probably one of the hardest professions in the world. It requires one to know a little about a lot of things. I believe everything in this world is learned behaviour, so is entrepreneurship. Unlike, traditional professions where you learn skills in the classroom, entrepreneurship is an on the job profession, just like sport. You learn baseball on the field, similarly you learn entrepreneurship on the playing field not in a classroom.

Thanks to Vinil Ramdev, CEO HANGOUT!

#14 – As Long As They Are Willing

Image Credit: Marian Bacol-Uba

Yes, you can absolutely teach someone to be an entrepreneur as long as that individual is willing to learn and grow. If someone is willing to do that, they can teach themselves how to start a business, how to network, learn how to market their products and services, how to network and all the other aspects that are important to being an entrepreneur. This is why mentorship is extremely important. A great mentor can teach someone how to be a  successful business owner. My own mentors are not just people I know in person, but also the great authors, speakers and other entrepreneurs (i.e. Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris) we currently have that are constantly creating free content for us to learn from.

Thanks to Marian Bacol-Uba!

#15 – Not Taking a Course

Image Credit: Chris Hornak

Yes, I think you can learn to be an entrepreneur but not by taking a course. You can learn it by working at a small business or a few small businesses.. This is how I learned what it took to be an entrepreneur. The reason I said small rather than medium or large business is because at a small business you'll have to wear many hats and you'll have a much better likely hood of getting insights into the companies inner workings. If I would have jumped straight into launching a business before gaining that experience I would have had a much riskier start and would have learned things the hard way.

Thanks to Chris Hornak,!

#16 – You Can't Teach What He Has

Image Credit: Daniel Passov

Being an entrepreneur is about being a visionary. If you look at Elon Musk, you can't teach what he has. Simply put, he has vision that most people think is insane, but he proves it to be true and changes the world. I've always known that I wanted to have my own business. Dating back to elementary school I sold candy out of my locker. It was in my blood. The things that can be taught are how to run a business, operating it properly, etc.

Thanks to Daniel Passov, Greek U, Inc!

#17 – Like Musicians & Athletes

Image Credit: Teresa R. Funke

Like the ability to sing or play sports, I think some of us are born with gifts that make entrepreneurship more appealing and achievable. Many entrepreneurs have fun stories of plying their trade at early ages. Like the magic shows I offered or the unique strategy I applied at my lemonade stand. Though many of us may be predisposed to entrepreneurship, I do think we can learn from each other. When I started my freelance writing business 25 years ago (which later lead to publishing, speaking, and coaching), I picked up tips from other freelance writers, a freelance photographer, and a friend who was starting his own business. I’ve attended talks on entrepreneurship; read books, magazines, and blogs; and networked with entrepreneurs in order to learn. I know some kids now take entrepreneurship classes, and that’s great, but this field, maybe more than any other, is really one in which the best learning comes from trial and error. There’s no such thing as a wasted effort, only an opportunity to learn!

Thanks to Teresa R. Funke, Teresa Funke & Company!

#18 – My Son Feels Differently

Image Credit: Kathy Partak

My initial response was, No, there is something in the make up of an entrepreneur. But I stopped because though I do believe that, my son feels differently. Mason is 13 and set up his first store when he was just 6 in front of our house. He made a sale! He has gone on to raise over $26,000 for his elementary school kitchen (end of 3rd grade, over the summer and through 4th and 5th grades), he competed on Chopped Junior (yes, he's a kid cook, too) and won $10,000. He decided he wanted to start a business and bottled a couple of his sauce/dressing recipes and I help him run Mason Made.  All of this makes it pretty clear that Mason is a born entrepreneur, but he's going into the 8th grade and he's put together a curriculum for what he calls an Entrepreneur Club. The principal is on board and he has a teacher advisor. You see, he feels that middle school kids are a kind of invisible demographic. They are not legally old enough to have a real job and they don't drive yet, so they are sort of stuck when it comes to making money. He feels he has put together a comprehensive list of things middle school aged kids can do to make money without the I9 or even a car. Mason feels if he can get them to see what's possible, there may be entrepreneurs in all of us. I'm a Realtor (entrepreneur from the day I took my first breath) and Mason's dad is active duty military getting ready to retire.

Thanks to Kathy Partak, Mason Paratak!

#19 – Teaching Entrepreneurs is Easy, Teaching Greatness Is Impossible

Image Credit: Joel Razi Lutfiyya

You absolutely can teach somebody to be an entrepreneur if they have the capacity and drive to learn the ins and outs of running a business. However, you cannot teach somebody to be an innovator, free-thinker or industry disrupter. There are many individuals providing services and products that are identical to others, but to be a true business outlier in the world, it takes a natural ability to see gaps in the market and execute new ideas with no road map to follow. With resources like the Small Business Administration and so many consultants out there, learning to be an entrepreneur has never been easier.

Thanks to Joel Razi Lutfiyya, Small Business Growth!

#20 – Desire Can't Be Taught

Image Credit: Gina Horkey

While you can teach people how to become *better* at entrepreneurship, if they have no desire to start and grow their own business in the first place, it can't be taught. The desire to be the boss (at least for awhile), grow something from nothing and take risks is important to getting a new business of the ground and on its way to success. If an individual isn't interested in doing those things, then no amount of education will help them to suddenly want to.

Thanks to Gina Horkey, Horkey HandBook !

#21 – As Long as You Are Passionate

Image Credit: Dan Andersson

One of our core values at LEO is that there is greatness inside everyone and it is my opinion that as long as you are passionate about what you want to achieve, then you have a strong chance of success. It's not about being taught, it's about grabbing the opportunity and pursuing it will a relentless passion. There are more opportunities today than there ever has been before. Whether you are a mass market business or going for a small niche, you can target customers all over the world. This is an age of increasing opportunity for everyone. It is an age of global entrepreneurship, and an age where almost anyone with a passion can run their own successful business.

Thanks to Dan Andersson, Learning Enterprises Organisation!

What are your thoughts? Are entrepreneurs born or made? Can entrepreneurship be learned? Tell us in the comments below.


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