Self-control is key to starting a business

Published: 23 February 2015 at 12:03

Anglia Ruskin academics produce new study on character traits of entrepreneurs

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Individuals with a high level of self-control are more likely to get their business idea off the ground, according to a new study published by the Journal of Business Venturing.

Professor Matthias Fink and Professor Teemu Kautonen, both of Anglia Ruskin University’s Institute for International Management Practice, carried out the research – the first to investigate the role of self-control in entrepreneurship – alongside Dr Marco van Gelderen of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Of the 161 people surveyed who expressed an intention to engage in entrepreneurial activities within a year, over two thirds (69%) took few or no steps towards doing so in the following 12 months.

However, the researchers found that self-control is an important factor contributing to taking entrepreneurial action.

Teemu Kautonen, Professor of Enterprise and Innovation at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“A moderate level of self-control is essential for a start-up intention to develop into concrete activity."

“The higher the level of self-control, the more likely it is for a person intending to become an entrepreneur to put their money where their mouth is.”

A further benefit of a moderate to high level of self-control is that such people are less likely to experience emotional states that hinder entrepreneurial behaviour.  This study analysed three such emotional states: doubt, fear and aversion felt towards certain activities that may be encountered when establishing a business.

In particular, it was found that doubt concerning the inadequacy of one’s skills related to entrepreneurship significantly reduces the likelihood of that person turning their business start-up intentions into actions.

However, the higher the level of self-control, the less likely it is that the person encounters these emotions or, if they do, they are better at managing them than people with low levels of self-control.

In addition to entrepreneurial research carried out by the Institute for International Management Practice, Anglia Ruskin is also home to the Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR). Anglia Ruskin was named Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2014 by the Times Higher Education.