That's a little bit like the nurture versus nature debate that has long been argued with regard to human traits like genius or even criminality. The question of whether entrepreneurs are a natural phenomenon or a manufactured one is one that is frequently asked, but rarely answered once and for all. Long may the argument continue, for all the while it does we get the chance to grow to understand more about what exactly makes a successful entrepreneur.
There's no doubt about it, most of the successful entrepreneurs we hear about share certain traits. Determination is one of them. Whether that sort of drive is present from childhood is debatable, it may be detectable in some at an early age and others at a later stage in life. After all, it is not unheard of for even the most unruly of youngsters to grow into determined adults who do well. Determination can be learned and even taught, in cases where it is not innate. So in terms of determination, at least, a key element of the entrepreneurial persona can be taught.
Very often we talk about something called entrepreneurial spirit. We're usually hard pushed to give a clear definition of what that means, but still we talk about it. And when we do we often revere it as something almost magical, superhuman even, a trait or gift which sets the entrepreneur apart from the rest of us. While it's true that we cannot replicate that elusive spirit or make-up purely from teaching, it is possible that some behaviors that central to the entrepreneurial core can be adopted and hone through discipline.
It is perhaps creativity that best defines certain aspects of entrepreneurial spirit. The ability to look at things in a different way, sometimes even a skewed way. In general, creativity is not a characteristic that can be taught, the basic flair is usually already within the person. And in the entrepreneur that can be the key to developing innovative ideas, or even taking tried and tested ideas and shaping them in new and innovative ways.
Sometimes risk taking is cited as a characteristic of entrepreneurship. Arguably the successful entrepreneur is not technically a risk taker. While he or she may determinedly push for a course of action this is usually because they have the knowledge that they are onto a surefire thing. The image of the entrepreneur as one who will fly by the seat of their pants is a rather out-moded and romanticized one. Nowadays, there's enough information about good and safe business practice to make it unnecessary for the entrepreneur to take risks he doesn't need to.
Some traits will be natural, and can even be honed, and some can be instilled. Perhaps the perfect combination would be a healthy mixture of both. A creative genius with no practical skills would not a victorious business owner make.
If the tendency toward entrepreneurship is indeed natural then it is in learning and experience that the fully fledged entrepreneur is made.