Research has concluded that there are certain personality traits that are correlated with entrepreneurship. Wondering how you stack up? In this article, we take a look at the big 5 factors of personality—extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness, and neuroticism—and how they impact entrepreneurship.
Extraversion – Extraversion relates to sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and emotional expressiveness. While being an extrovert can be useful for entrepreneurs who need to sell their business ideas or raise capital, surprisingly, extraversion is not associated with entrepreneurship in a significant way. Introverts are just as capable of starting their own businesses.
Conscientiousness – This refers to persistence, hard work, ambition, drive, and dependability. This personality trait is the one most highly correlated with entrepreneurship. Furthermore, people who score high in conscientiousness have the strongest job performance across all industries.
Openness to Experience – Openness to experience refers to people who are innovative, imaginative, intellectually curious, creative, and nontraditional. This is considered an important characteristic of entrepreneurs, as they often formulate new ideas and innovative approaches for bringing products and services to market.
Agreeableness – In essence, agreeableness refers to how well someone plays with others. An agreeable person would be considered cooperative, trusting, kind, forgiving, and tolerant. While these people make great mates, unfortunately, they don’t often wind up as entrepreneurs. It’s believed that this is because they are “less likely to pursue their own self-interest, drive difficult bargains, or use others to achieve their objectives.”
Neuroticism – People who are highly neurotic experience negative emotions more frequently like anxiety, depression, and anger. They have strong emotional reactions to things that are upsetting and as such, they don’t bounce back from setbacks as quickly as those who score lower on this scale. Entrepreneurs tend to score less high on neuroticism. If someone is going to take a professional risk by starting a business, it helps if he responds to trying situations with confidence and equanimity.
The takeaway from this research is that while these factors influence whether or not someone becomes an entrepreneur, they don’t bar entry into entrepreneurship. If you’re high in neuroticism, for example, you can change the way you view setbacks to develop greater resilience and experience more peace of mind. Aspiring entrepreneurs would do well to remember Walt Disney’s famous quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”