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Who Entrepreneurs Are and What Makes Them Tick

Who Entrepreneurs Are and What Makes Them Tick

By Vivek Wadhwa

In 2004 small companies employed about half of the private-sector work force and generated about half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration. Despite their enormous impact on the economy, little is known about entrepreneurs' backgrounds or motivations, beyond myths that cast them as privileged young workaholics chasing fame and fortune.

A study released by the Kauffman Foundation earlier this month, titled “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur,” led by co-authors Vivek Wadhwa, Raj Aggarwal, Krisztina “Z” Holly, and former BusinessWeek tech editor Alex Salkever aims to discover who American entrepreneurs are and what makes them tick. To do so, the team surveyed 549 successful business founders from high-growth industries between August 2008 and March 2009. Flip through this slide show for Wadhwa's thoughts on the most compelling data.