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Top traits of entrepreneurs: Curious, upbeat, in charge

Entrepreneurs are people who “like to learn things, want to enjoy life, and like to be in charge and tell others what to do.”

These are the top traits of entrepreneurs as perceived by respondents in the first Amway Entrepreneurial Spirit Index (AESI) by the 2015 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER). The AESI measures entrepreneurial spirit in three dimensions including desirability, feasibility, and stability against social pressure derived from acclaimed psychologist Icek Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior.

The index also measures attitude and potential.

Respondents characterize business owners as people who “look for adventures and like to take risks” (70 percent), “think the safety of their country is very important” (70 percent), and “like to stand out and impress other people” (68 percent). Those under 35 years (73 percent) are more convinced that entrepreneurs like to “impress others” than any other age group.

The research also showed that independence and ideas are valued above all.

The two most compelling factors for starting a business were “independence from an employer, being my own boss” and “self-fulfillment, possibility to realize own ideas,” confirming 2014 results. Respondents under 35 years held the strongest belief in “independence” at 53 percent.

It is noteworthy that all factors to starting a business were less appealing in countries with greater cultural intolerance for uncertainty. Further, in countries with higher economic output, respondents rate self-fulfillment as a much stronger driver for entrepreneurship, the study added.

The study also confirmed that fear of failure is a continuing obstacle.

Echoing 2013 results when AGER first posed this question, the fear of failure remained a significant hurdle (70 percent). Men and women were equally fearful, and in most countries, younger people were most afraid. “Financial burdens” (41 percent) and “threat of the economic crisis” (29 percent) were the factors feeding this fearfulness most.

Positivity prevails in new survey

Affirming 2014 results, 75 percent held positive attitudes toward entrepreneurship. In 2015, 81 percent of respondents under 35 years were the most optimistic. Men and women shared similar positivity, at 76 and 74 percent respectively.

“The entrepreneurial spirit is clearly and convincingly alive around the world,” adds DeVos. “The desire to start a business is there, and now we must use these insights to gain more cultural awareness and acceptance of the economic and social impacts of business owners provide,” the research added.

Amway partner and Chair for Strategy and Organization at Technische Universität München (TUM) Prof. Dr. Isabell M. Welpe agrees.

“The positive attitude and potential for entrepreneurship remains high globally, especially among younger generations. Yet a mere 10 percent of respondents are self-employed. This research sheds new light on how to close this gap of unused entrepreneurial potential,” the report added.

In the latest survey, two in five respondents (43 percent) could imagine starting a business. Men (47 percent) were considerably more willing than women (38 percent). University degree holders and those under 35 years (each 51 percent) showed the most potential. All this said, however, just 10 percent were currently self-employed, sustaining the entrepreneurial gap of 33 percent from 2014.

“Entrepreneurs are shaping the global economy,” said Amway President Doug DeVos. “Through AGER, we’re exploring their motivations and mindset to ultimately create a more supportive world for entrepreneurs to start up, succeed and sustain their own businesses. The AESI adds new depth to this important research,” said DeVos.

The groundbreaking first survey launched in 2010 as the Amway European Entrepreneurship Report, then expanded worldwide with the 2013 AGER, encompassing 24 countries. This year’s report spans 44 countries, with in person and telephone interviews conducted with nearly 50,000 men and women aged 14-99.

The AESI measures three dimensions that influence a person’s intention to start a business. The average for all countries was 51, calculated as the mean of the three areas measuring desirability, feasibility and stability against social pressure: 55 percent of the average expressed the desire to become an entrepreneur; 47 percent felt prepared for entrepreneurship; and 49 percent would not allow their social networks to dissuade them. Men (54) had higher scores than women (47), and those 35 years scored highest among age groups.

Correlated with AGER results, AESI scores revealed that countries with a higher entrepreneurial spirit exhibited more positive attitudes toward entrepreneurship and higher entrepreneurial potential and rates of self-employment.

The 2015 AGER was conducted by Amway, in partnership with the Chair of Strategy and Organization of the School of Management, TUM in Munich, Germany. Results are shared with the scientific community, including the 44 AGER academic advisors and all interested think tanks and academic and public institutions.

Amway is a $10.8-billion direct selling business based in Ada, Michigan, USA.