Is Entrepreneurship Contagious?

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Is Entrepreneurship Contagious?

With cold and flu season just around the corner it seems like the perfect time to talk about another contagious disease making its way across the country.  No, we’re not talking about Swine Flu (whatever happened to that, by the way?).  Rather, the disease in question is a communicable form of entrepreneurship of course.

Wait, what?

Ok, so communicable probably isn’t exactly the right word we were looking for, and entrepreneurship definitely isn’t a disease, but if you delve into the results of a recent Kauffman Foundation report (the same people that we referenced in a recent post) you’ll see that entrepreneurship really does seem like it can be contagious.

This particular conclusion takes a bit of explaining, and the Small Business page of Bloomberg Businessweek had a great article the other day illuminating exactly how they came to this conclusion.  The piece tackles this issue on two fronts:

  1. It discusses the difference between fast-growth companies (which they refer to as gazelles) which create thousands of jobs and small, local businesses run by people simply attempting to make a living.  

  2. It talks about how people who fit into the gazelle category are more likely to be connected with other growth entrepreneurs.

In short, people in who strive to live in the world of fast-growth companies tend to drawn into the field by someone they know.  Take this quote from the article for example:

To find out whether “entrepreneurship is imitative behavior,” (author of the study Paul Kedrosky) conducted two surveys. One asked respondents if they knew any entrepreneurs, the other asked if they knew any gazelles. Taken together, the surveys suggest that knowing an entrepreneur is a “significant factor” in whether a person starts a business.    

That’s an incredibly powerful discovery.  If we all take a look back at what lead us to become interested in entrepreneurship and small business ownership I would imagine a fair few of our stories would involve the tutelage of someone else from the field.  It is our nature as humans to mimic those around us, so it makes perfect sense that being around other entrepreneurs would increase our likelihood of wanting to go into small business ownership.  

There are obviously a multitude of factors that go into choosing a particular career path, but if this study is in fact accurate, it seems like entrepreneurship isn’t just exciting, it’s also quite literally contagious.