Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! is the story of two children, a daughter and son, of an oil millionaire. It is a study in character, and in that respect there is something else fascinating about it. Written in 1927, during a time when worker’s rights were barely beginning to gain steam, the book explores the second born son’s growing obsession with social justice. The first born is largely concerned with using her father’s money to build the business and maintain her status. Yet both retain aspirations to make it on their own.
This observation is not new, it’s actually well documented that you are more likely to start a company when you are the first born. It’s also totally in character for the second born to be more concerned with human rights and to pursue more unorthodox efforts. The question is what chances the second born children have of starting their own companies, and whether upbringing can affect that.
Bloomberg suggests that first-born business owners are likely to be more extroverted and confident than their younger siblings. First-borne are also more dominant in their actions and tend to enact plans that they follow through on. The down side is that they are also more susceptible to the fear of losing their status.
As for second-born children, their ideas tend to embrace a more creative side. Jobs that focus on relationship building, creative pursuits and public outreach tend to go to second born children. So while a first born may be more analytical, the second born is capable of forming lasting relationships better.
Fortunately, birth order doesn’t seem to affect your ability to raise money, that tends to fluctuate by person and location.
Financial lessons from your parents directly affect you as an entrepreneur, regardless of what order you were born. If your parents owned their own business, you are more likely to pursue your own career and work for yourself. Robert J Findlay, a leading business development professional, notes: “If you are trying to teach your child that success requires hard work, you should model this lesson in your own endeavors.”
Like father like son doesn’t stop there, females show an even higher likelihood of starting their own companies when they have mothers who work for themselves. Practice good money management with your children and teach them as they grow. Trying to bombard a preschooler with advanced retirement planning will largely confuse him; wait until he begins to work with more complicated numbers.
Prepare real life examples that children can change, like spreadsheet formulas where kids can alter the numbers or budget apps on an iPad that show color-coded spending habits.
Higher education affects your likelihood of founding a company, but not in the way you think it would. Entrepreneurs tend to make a choice about their future and it happens right around 25. At that point, with a bachelor’s degree, many opt to start their own company. Some of those degree holders will also work in the marketplace for a while, when they can find jobs, then return when they hit 30 to start their own company. That group joins the well-educated bunch who also tend to wait until their 30’s to start companies.
Science and engineering degrees were the most popular amongst start up founders in a Tech Crunch survey. Founders are also more likely to volunteer, take AP classes and skip grades.
If you’re not a first born, don’t fret. Parents who invest in their children, nurture strong study habits and good discipline raise hard working adults. Don’t be afraid of being creative and let someone else handle the rigid work, one of an entrepreneur’s great strengths is learning to utilize one’s assets.