Look What the Nerds and Loners Are Doing Now

Ever wondered about the kinds of people who become entrepreneurs? In a recent survey, 43 percent of entrepreneurs admit they were “loners” as kids, while 25 percent said they would have been described as “nerds.”

Accounting software seller Quick Books recently surveyed approximately 1,300 small business owners with 20 or fewer employees to find out about their personal influences and their backgrounds. The results were released last month. Besides the loners and the geeky types, another 20 percent of respondents said they were seen as clowns and 11 percent said they would be described as jocks. Just one percent said they were bullies.

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Given the independent spirit required to start a business, the large proportion of entrepreneurs who were so-called loners as kids isn’t necessarily surprising. “People who have the personality and motivation to be the leader and start something on their own are more inclined to feel like they aren’t part of the social structure,” said Mark Rice, Dean of the Graduate School of Business at Babson College. “Entrepreneurs by definition are different,” Rice added. “They are doing something on the fringe.”

And 85 percent of small business owners are sole proprietors, according to Lisa Gevelber, general manager at Intuit ’s small business division. “We've always known that running a small business can be kind of lonely," Gevelber said.

The survey found some other similarities among the backgrounds of entrepreneurs. Forty-three percent of respondents turned out to be the oldest in their families. More than three quarters of respondents—77 percent—said they do not have a business degree.

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