Survey Shows Birth Order not an Influence on Entrepreneurship

November 26, 2007 ( - 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.

A news release said 38% of respondents were oldest or only children, while 34% were youngest children and 28% were middle children. 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, SurePayroll said.

Research generally has suggested first borns and only children were most successful in career matters, and a recent TIME magazine article detailing a birth order study indicated youngest children were more likely to be entrepreneurs, the announcement said. However, the SurePayroll survey found that the career paths of an entrepreneur’s parents – not birth order – may impact his or her decision to start a business.

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. The entrepreneurs surveyed also said they will have an entrepreneurial influence on their own children. Eighty-eight percent of respondents indicated they will encourage their children to become entrepreneurs.

In addition, the survey showed a child’s ambition also cannot predict whether one will own a business. When asked if they had planned on becoming an entrepreneur when they were children, 60% of respondents said they did not think or strive to be one, 40% said they thought they would become entrepreneurs, and 39% indicated they thought they would have a more traditional career. The remainder said they never thought about such matters when they were children.