Entrepreneur or an Employee

Are You an Entrepreneur or an Employee? Here’s the Test

Researchers have been pouring over the mental and physical composition of individuals for decades to discover what makes us who we are.

And sometimes, like David Attenborough does for animals, they manage to distil their research into easily digestible sound bites that people who don’t wear white coats and spend too much time in labs can get their heads around.

One such study to nail the good insight/easy to understand double comes courtesy of researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and University of Siegen in Germany, who have revealed what separates natural entrepreneurs from those more suited to be employees.

In a nutshell, the researchers found the difference lies in our disposition. An entrepreneur is a jack of all trades, while an employee is a specialist.

“Entrepreneurs differ from employees in that they must be sufficiently well versed in a whole set of entrepreneurial skills,” Uschi Backes-Gellner and Petra Moog write in their well-researched paper.

“Our primary conclusion is that it is not individuals with a higher level of human or social capital but rather individuals with a more balanced and combined portfolio of human capital, social capital and experiences that are more disposed than others to become entrepreneurs.”


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The study builds on Edward Lazear’s jack-of-all-trades theory that “that entrepreneurs must be jacks-of-all-trades who need not excel in any one skill but are competent in many”, with the addition that varied social experiences and wide networks also help establish an entrepreneurial streak.

Backes-Gellner and Moog used survey data from a sample of more than 2000 German students to test this hypothesis, and found that “the jacks-of-all-trades, i.e., individuals who are more balancing and combining different skills rather than specializing in a few, are more likely to become entrepreneurs.”

“On the other hand, the masters-of-one, i.e., the specialists, are better off being employees and rightly prefer to do so.”

So, which way to do you swing? Are you an employee or an entrepreneur?

Image: crises_crs, via Flickr