Self-control is key to starting a business

John O'Hanlon
- Leadership - Mar 08, 2015

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 percent) 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).

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