Practical Intelligence Key to Entrepreneurial Success

Washington, D.C. (Vocus/PRWEB) January 04, 2011

Groupon founder Andrew Mason is now leading what Forbes magazine labeled the fastest-growing company in Web history. But as a teenage entrepreneur who sold bagels to neighbors, then candy when he found it sold better, he demonstrated a specific kind of intelligence that according to new research may be central to entrepreneurial success: practical intelligence.

The research, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Personnel Psychology, was coauthored by Barbara J. Bird, an associate professor of management at American Universitys Kogod School of Business, and J. Robert Baum, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Marylands Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Practical intelligencebetter known as common sense, know how, or street senseis perhaps best described in laymans terms as learning by doing. You learn from your experiences.

Some people do not learn much from their experiences and so do not accumulate much practical intelligence. Such individuals may still be extremely intelligent, but have attained their knowledge through other meanssuch as reading or observingwhich are less likely to produce ready-to-use, applicable, and situation specific responses to real-life situations.

Entrepreneursespecially during the early stages of their start-upshave to think on their feet, Bird said. They have to make the best decisions possible in the least amount of time and usually with few resources. They dont have time for in-depth analysis and usually do not have the luxury of consulting with others. They need to act. Practical intelligence empowers them to act quickly and confidently.


Through questionnaire responses from 283 founders of early stage printing and graphics businesses, Bird and Baum found that the entrepreneurs who were most likely to run rapidly growing ventures possessed relevant experience in printing and graphics, learned through hands-on experiences and active experimentation, and honed their practical intelligence by pursuing specific growth goals.

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