Are true entrepreneurs born and not made?

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Almost half of people in 38 countries worldwide see themselves as potential entrepreneurs and an even larger share believe entrepreneurs are made, not born. This was part of the findings from the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report 2014 released today that surveyed about 44,000 men and women aged 14 to 99.

Governments and organizations that focus on entrepreneurship education and programs can help translate this entrepreneurial energy into business ownership that boosts the world economy and contributes to vital communities, the report points out.

Supportive culture needed

Though the report finds a growing sense of personal entrepreneurship worldwide, it also shows that it's not universal. Men are significantly more likely to see themselves in business than women—48 percent versus 37 percent.

We've also seen that as people age, they become less positive about entrepreneurship and are less open to being in business for themselves.

On the whole, however, people worldwide are increasingly positive about entrepreneurship—75 percent of those surveyed have a positive attitude toward entrepreneurship, up four percent over 2013.

A total of 42 percent of those surveyed could imagine themselves as entrepreneurs, up 2 percent over the 2013 study.

While people are positive about entrepreneurship, they do not believe their societies are necessarily friendly to entrepreneurs.

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Just 49 percent of global respondents believed there is strong support for entrepreneurs, with 43 percent citing their culture as "entrepreneurship unfriendly."

The most positive culture for entrepreneurs, according to the report, is Denmark, with more than 80 percent of Danes citing their culture as entrepreneur friendly. Portugal is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Less than 20 percent of those surveyed there felt entrepreneurism was supported and encouraged.

People all over the world had a similar view on the question of whether entrepreneurs are born or made.

In 37 of 38 markets participating in the study, people believe entrepreneurship can be taught and that entrepreneurs can be made. Only in Japan did people believe entrepreneurs are born and not made.

Attitudes toward entrepreneurship are changing across generations. Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that entrepreneurs are made and not born. People under 35 have the strongest belief that entrepreneurship can be taught, with 70 percent agreeing, versus 65 percent of those 35 to 49 years old, and 57 percent of those older than 50.

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The report also shows how much more could be done to support these potential entrepreneurs—and points to opportunities for those who want to help.

Fewer than half, 43 percent of respondents, believe existing entrepreneurship education options are satisfactory.

They cite basic business skills (42 percent), leadership and management skills (37 percent) and "entrepreneurship in practice" training and education programs as crucial in helping them launch their own businesses. People see schools, state programs and universities as institutions responsible for entrepreneurship education, in that order. Offering entrepreneurship education earlier in schools, in addition to the many university programs that already exist, may help boost entrepreneurship.

—By Steve Van Andel special to Andel is chairman of Amway.