Do entrepreneurs possess different personality characteristics than non-entrepreneurs? Davis, Hall & Mayer (2015) proposed that entrepreneurs likely do possess certain personality characteristics that differentiate them from non-entrepreneurs and that these characteristics are not likely amenable to change. As well, they posited that entrepreneurs possess cognitive and problem solving traits that might be more malleable and thus able to be developed. Using prior research results and an initial framework, they developed an instrument that measures EM by assessing 14 different dimensions. Seven dimensions are Traits, which are generally thought to be less susceptible to intervention. The other seven are Skills, meaning they can be learned and hopefully improved with intervention.

The personality traits are:

  • Independence
  • Preference for Limited Structure
  • Nonconformity
  • Risk Acceptance
  • Action Orientation
  • Passion
  • Need to Achieve

The skills are: 

  • Future Focus
  • Idea Generation
  • Execution
  • Self-Confidence
  • Optimism
  • Persistence
  • Interpersonal Sensitivity

In the research of Davis et al. (2015), entrepreneurs and corporate managers studied in the US differed significantly on all 14 dimensions. Entrepreneurs scored higher than managers on all scales except Interpersonal Sensitivity. The only dimension that entrepreneurs did not score well above 3 (on a 5-point scale) is Independence.

How can this information be used when working with Canadian entrepreneurs? As a start, organizations working with entrepreneurs can use results and scores on traits and skills to better understand their clients. They can then develop tools and programs to help these entrepreneurs improve their skills where necessary and potentially provide tools to help them overcome some areas where their personality traits are not ideal. For more information go to

Davis, M., Hall, J., & Mayer, P. (2015). Developing a new measure of entrepreneurial mindset: Reliability, validity, and implications for practitioners. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. 68(1), 21-48.