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Self-control is key to starting a business

Emotional states might prevent would-be entrepreneurs from turning their intentions into actions.

"The most likely person to become an entrepreneur is one who has a high level of self-control. It is less common for such a person to feel strong sensations of uncertainty and fear with respect to starting a business", says Aalto University Professor Teemu Kautonen.

A study by Kautonen and his researcher colleagues analyses emotional states that might prevent would-be entrepreneurs from turning their intentions into actions. The observed emotional states include doubt, fear, and aversion felt towards certain activities that individuals may encounter when establishing a business. Especially 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.

The survey data comprised 161 Finns aged 20 to 64 who had some level of intention to engage in business start-up activities in the next 12 months. A follow-up survey was conducted a year later in which the participants were asked about the activities they actually undertook (or not) to start the intended business, and factors that affected the implementation of those intentions.

Self-discipline helps get over feelings of uncertainty

A particular focus in the research was self-control, or managing one's own behaviour. Self-control proved to be an important factor contributing to taking entrepreneurial action. A person with a high level of self-control is less likely to experience feelings of doubt, fear, or aversion to the degree that a person with a low level of self-control.

In fact, 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.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Business Venturing (Marco Van Gelderen, Teemu Kautonen, Matthias Fink).

A link to the article - From entrepreneurial intentions to actions: Self-control and action-related doubt, fear, and aversion http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883902615000142

Further information:
Teemu Kautonen
Professor of Entrepreneurship
[email protected]
tel. +358 50 360 9389

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