SurePayroll Insights Survey Finds Birth Order Unimportant to Entrepreneurship

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While general studies report oldest children are most successful, survey shows family position makes no difference to starting a business.

Entrepreneurs are made, they are not born

A recent survey of small business owners conducted by online payroll service SurePayroll reveals that oldest, middle, youngest and only children are equally likely to have entrepreneurial aspirations.

The survey found that the career paths of an entrepreneur's parents -- not birth order -- may impact his or her decision to start a business.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents were oldest or only children, followed closely by youngest children at 34 percent and middle children at 28 percent. The closeness of the numbers suggests that a sibling's birth order has little or no effect on the likelihood of becoming a business owner.

Recent studies on the general population and family position have come to different conclusions, claiming substantial trends in relation to birth order and achievement. For example, a recent article points out research that claims oldest and only children achieve the most success in school and the workforce, bringing in higher grades and a bigger paycheck than their younger siblings.

"Research shows that firstborns (and only children) lead the pack in terms of educational attainment, occupational prestige, income and net worth," states the article. "Conversely middle children in large families tend to fare the worst."

In addition, a recent TIME Magazine article details a birth order study that suggests firstborns are less likely to become entrepreneurs, opting for more stable professions in which scoring a large paycheck can be less risky.

"Younger siblings, by contrast, are looser cannons, less educated and less strapping, perhaps, but statistically likelier to live the exhilarating life of an artist or a comedian, an adventurer, entrepreneur, GI or firefighter," the article states.

Does the Key to Entrepreneurial Success Run in the Family?
While birth order is insignificant in creating entrepreneurs, growing up in an environment that includes at least one entrepreneur parent could play an important role in achieving success as a small business owner.

Sixty percent of the small business owners who participated in the survey said that second-generation entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful than first-generation entrepreneurs.

SurePayroll President Michael Alter says this data is consistent with what he has heard anecdotally from many small business owners.

"Entrepreneurs are made, they are not born," says Alter. "There's no DNA sequence that determines whether you will succeed or fail. But the earlier you start to think entrepreneurially, the bigger advantage you have. That's a gift that you receive naturally when you are fortunate enough to be raised by entrepreneurs."

The entrepreneurs who were surveyed clearly will have an entrepreneurial influence on their own children. 88 percent of the surveyed small business owners indicated that they will encourage their children to become entrepreneurs.

Key reasons for recommending an entrepreneurial track to children included the following:

  •      "There is better control and flexibility, even though there is more risk. It is easier to reach your potential, in my opinion, when you are free to do the things you think are right."
  •      "I think that if they can make enough money running their own business they would be happier being their own boss. The freedom to make decisions and carry them out is exciting."
  •      "Becoming an entrepreneur requires individuals to stretch their boundaries and become creative problem solvers. It offers independence and greater satisfaction."

Others (12 percent of respondents) said they might not encourage their children to become entrepreneurs:

  •      "I will encourage my children to pursue their dreams -- whether they be entrepreneurial or not. I think that being an entrepreneur provides significant rewards in the areas of freedom, independence and the big pay-off. On the other side, being an entrepreneur can be very difficult and stressful, with very few making it work."
  •      "I think owning your own business is a great opportunity, but it is not for everyone. Some need more guidance and structure. Entrepreneurs are leaders and risk takers. Not everyone is comfortable in those situations."
  •      "Well, it is hard to tell if they are driven enough to own a business on their own. Some people just are not, and you only get out of it what you put into it. My children were never exposed to working in the businesses that I own, whereas I worked or was involved in my family businesses since I was big enough to walk. Simply different times, different generations."

Birth order can't predict whether one will own a business and neither can a child's ambition. When asked if they had planned on becoming an entrepreneur when they were children, 60 percent did not think or strive to be one. Forty percent of the respondents thought they would be come entrepreneurs, whereas 39 percent indicated that they thought they would have a more traditional career. The remainder (21 percent) said they never thought about such matters when they were children.

About SurePayroll:
Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service by PC Magazine, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll manager. In addition to its payroll and ClickFREEâ„¢ tax file and pay service -- which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes -- SurePayroll provides HR and compliance resources, workers' compensation products and 401(k) retirement solutions designed specifically for small businesses.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accounting and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll. The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience - at a price small business owners can afford. For more information, visit

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Frank Krolicki
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