Teenagers who take part in illicit activities such as drug taking and score highly in intelligent tests could be future self-made millionaires.

This is according to a new report for National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S. which provides statistics to back up the view that ‘bad boys’ make good entrepreneurs.

History is littered with risk-taking entrepreneurs who have a chequered past, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who both dropped out of Harvard University.

But the latest study suggests that there is one distinct type of entrepreneur who is likely to be more successful that others- and much of this success is down to their background and character traits. The study, conducted by U.C. Berkeley’s Ross Levine and Yona Rubinstein of the London School of Economics, divided the entrepreneurs into two groups; those with limited liability incorporated businesses and those who are unincorporated.

Based on a survey of 12,686 people born between 1957 and 1964, they found that entrepreneurs with incorporated businesses had notably different traits that those without.

Incorporated self-employed had average residual hourly earnings that were 48 per cent greater than somebody with a salary. They were more educated and more likely to come from high-earning, two-parent families than salaried workers.
As well as this, they found that people that incorporate later in life tended to score higher on learning aptitude tests and exhibited greater self-esteem.

They also ‘indicate that they aspire to be leaders later in life, and engage in more aggressive, illicit, and risky activities than other people,’ said the report.

Around 84 per cent of the incorporated self-employed in the survey sample were white, compared with 71 per cent of white people in the sample overall. Only 28 per cent were female.

The research supports a study conducted by the University of Cambridge last year which found that entrepreneurs take riskier decisions than managers.

Psychologists traditionally viewed risk-taking as an abnormal behaviour, associated with disorders such as drug abuse and manic depression.

But the Cambridge research said that entrepreneurs showed an adapted type of impulsive risk-taking that allows them to seize opportunities under stress.

Entrepreneurs choose to start up their own businesses instead of working in an existing company. They can gamble their finances, reputation and even their families and self-esteem in the hope of making greater profits as they ‘go out on their own’. Jimoh_Ibrahim

Entrepreneurs also showed more flexible thinking and were more impulsive – processes that are closely linked to the chemistry in the brain and in particular the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day. Stay informed with the Orijo Reporter's leading coverage of Nigerian and world news.


  1. This study is right to an extent. most businessmen are crooks even here in Nigeria. Dangote, Otedola, Jimoh Ibrahim, Wale Babalakin etc

  2. The study struck the bulls eye. Pablo Escobar of Columbia was a drug lord and also a successful businessman. Pdiddy,50 Cent and Dr. Dre were once bad boys and now they are all accomplished business moguls.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here