Successful Entrepreneurs are "Natural Born Risk Takers"

By Hiscox, PRNE
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Leading Business Experts Say Entrepreneurship is More Nature Than Nurture and Believe Tough Economic Times are an Opportunity for Entrepreneurs to Flourish

LONDON, March 14, 2011 - Over half (53%) of British entrepreneurs put their business success down
to their own innate talents which cannot be learnt or taught, according to
new research* of 500 entrepreneurs. This compares to 13% who believe that
learnt skills or education have been the driver in launching their business

A debate on the research findings by small business insurance
( provider Hiscox,
( attended by some of the country's leading
entrepreneurs and business experts reached the conclusion that
entrepreneurship is more nature than nurture, although did also suggest that
some key business skills can be learnt. The discussion also concluded that
the current financial climate presents significant opportunities for aspiring

Hosted at the Royal Institution by science journalist Vivienne Parry, the
Hiscox sponsored 'nature or nurture' debate saw Steve Ridgway, CEO of Virgin
Atlantic Airways, Max McKeown, business author and strategic adviser, and
Daniel T Jones, founder and Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy, argue
what attributes they believe contribute to entrepreneurial success.

Entrepreneurship as an art

Max McKeown, supporting the nature side of the debate, said that
entrepreneurship is an art, something that comes from a set of abilities that
cannot be learnt. He also commented that entrepreneurs need innate qualities
such as ambition in order to make the leap from having a great idea to
actioning it: "Who's more likely to succeed - someone with high skill and no
ambition, or no skill and high ambition? If you're an entrepreneur, you can
hire as many skilled people for your business as you want."

Hiscox's research supports that view, with 23% of entrepreneurs
questioned stating they were not university educated and just 13% believing
business success is down to education or relevant experience. Respondents
also listed innate attributes led by an analytical mind (81%), followed by
creativity (73%), drive (66%) and good communication skills (63%) as key to
business success.

Entrepreneurship as a science

But the research also acknowledged nurture as an influence: 88% of
entrepreneurs worked for another company before starting their own business
and 30% had studied business and management, showing that gaining
competencies and experience within an established company can be an important
part of business success. Professor Jones echoed the need for experience when
debating for the side of nurture. He argued that entrepreneurs often fail at
first, learning from their mistakes, and that some key entrepreneurial
traits, for example problem solving, can be taught.

The lively discussion about the nature of entrepreneurship concluded with
all panelists agreeing that post-recession is a time ripe for would-be
entrepreneurs, citing successful companies Hyatt Hotels and MTV, which were
born in similarly challenging economic times.

Professor Jones said that the recent downturn proved the current business
model was broken: "Now is the time for entrepreneurs to really flourish".
Steve Ridgway commented that tough economic times always bring out business
talent: "Entrepreneurs will go to hell and back if they believe in an idea."
Max McKeown echoed this thought, saying: "Entrepreneurs don't believe the
future is predictable - but they do believe that they can create the future

Commenting on the debate, Alan Thomas, SME expert at Hiscox said: "One
thing that's clear is that it's hard to package the profile of an
entrepreneur into a 'one size fits all' format. While some people have all
the required qualifications on paper, they may lack the innate abilities of a
natural born risk taker or vice versa. It's good to see that despite, or
maybe because of, recent economic challenges, the spirit of entrepreneurship
remains alive and well in this country."


Hiscox insures more than 100,000 small businesses in the UK, offering a
range of business products including public liability insurance
( and
professional indemnity insurance.

Notes to editors

*Research of 500 SME owners was carried out on behalf of Hiscox by
RedShift between 7th - 21st January 2011.

About Hiscox

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda
and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main
underwriting parts of the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox UK and Europe
and Hiscox International. Hiscox London Market underwrites internationally
traded business in the London Market - generally large or complex business
which needs to be shared with other insurers or needs the international
licences of Lloyd's. Hiscox UK and Hiscox Europe offer a range of specialist
insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as high net worth
individuals. Hiscox International includes operations in Bermuda, Guernsey
and USA. Hiscox Insurance Company Limited, Hiscox Underwriting Limited,
Hiscox Europe Underwriting Limited and Hiscox Syndicates Limited are
authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information, visit

About the Royal Institution

For over 200 years, at the headquarters on Albemarle St, the Royal
Institution has been at the forefront of science research, innovation and
communication. The Ri is where scientists such Humphrey Davy, Michael
Faraday, William and Lawrence Bragg and George Porter discovered 10 chemical
elements, won 14 Nobel Prizes and made world-changing discoveries such as the
laws of electromagnetism and the foundations of molecular biology.

Today, the Ri is an independent charity with a mission to communicate the
role that science plays in everyday life through its exceptional range of
education programmes, its rich scientific heritage and its unique exhibition.

The Ri's priorities are to communicate the role that science plays in
everyday life; inspire the next generation of scientists to experiment and
innovate; champion scientific discovery and innovation; educate people of all
ages through exceptional events and masterclasses and inform through public
programmes that challenge the perception of science.

For further information, visit

For further information please contact: Hiscox Ltd, Johanna Boland, Group Communications, +44(0)207-448-6494, johanna.boland at; Lexis Public Relations, Emma Robertson, Press Office, +44(0)20-7908-6469, erobertson at; Sirina Parr, Press Office, +44(0)20-7908-6481, sparr at

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