Shoplifting teenagers are predicted to be entrepreneurs


Did you ever shoplift as a kid?

Cheat on a test?

Defy your teachers or parents?

Then you might be the next Bill Gates.

A surprising amount of research shows you’re more likely to become a successful entrepreneur if you broke the rules as a teenager.

We often think of entrepreneurs as innovative, independent, risk takers. They disrupt norms and upend entire industries in the process. These are the things we admire. It’s what makes them special.

When you’re a 35 year old running a silicon valley startup, you’re praised for disrupting norms.

When you’re 16, it makes you a delinquent.

Of course not every rule breaking kid is going to grow up and found the next Microsoft.

But many researchers believe moderate rule breaking as a youth is an indication of the entrepreneurial spirit shining through…

A 2008 study by Zhang and Avery found a relationship between breaking rules as a teenager and later entrepreneurship. Their findings were based on the retrospective self-reports of 165 American men.

Then in 2013 another study replicated and extended the results. They proved there was in fact a link between rebellion and entrepreneurship.

They analyzed longitudinal data on 1,000 people in a mid-sized Swedish. The data spanned a period of 40 years, starting from when they were 10 years old.

Teenagers who were truant, ignored their parents’ rules, cheated and shoplifted minor items, were more likely to start their own companies.

Interestingly, this link was only apparent with males, not females.

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