Entreprayneurs: Business starters pray more often, study finds

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 4:35 p.m. MDT

The study also found that entrepreneurs tend to understand God as personal and responsive to their needs more than non-entrepreneurs. This finding, that entrepreneurs believe in a personal God who listens and acts, combines with the other finding that they pray more often.

"We found that to be a real novel finding," Dougherty says. "It challenges the idea that entrepreneurs are people that have shed the confines of religion to forge their own path."

Instead, there was a connection to religion through more personalized and privatized practices.

The data comes from a national random sample across the spectrum of religious groups such as evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Catholics. The larger data shows that the different faith traditions do not have much effect on who is and who is not an entrepreneur, Dougherty says.

"There is something still unique about the American entrepreneur regardless of the type of faith community they belong to or even if they do not belong to a faith community in terms of (how) they view God and how frequently they pray to this deity," he says.

Young thinks believing in a personal God is attractive to entrepreneurs because it fits into their mindsets. "As an entrepreneur it does make sense to me," she says. "We are all guided by something, whether it is your gut. You turn to your gut, you turn to a higher power for guidance to make the right decisions. It involves a personal connection."

Where they gather together

The survey also asked participants the name and address of their place of worship. About 60 percent were able to give the contact information for where they attended religious services.

The survey also looked at the extent to which entrepreneurs were in faith communities that encouraged, either modestly or strongly, both starting a new business and making a profit in business. The survey asked, for example, "How is starting a business talked about, if at all, in your place of worship?" and "How is making a profit in business talked about, if at all, in your place of worship?"

Dougherty said it's not surprising that entrepreneurs are more likely to belong to congregations that encourage these things. "No other published research has ever documented this," he says. "And the results raise all sorts of interesting implications."

Dougherty wants to do further research to determine if some faith communities inspire people to take chances in the marketplace and start new businesses. "We think that is really fascinating," he says. "And for a country coming out of a recession, if that is true, then the 300,000 faith communities that dot our landscape will become even more important as potential catalysts for driving economic recovery and growth."

Last summer the Baylor research team traveled the country and conducted about 200 interviews at eight different faith communities to find out why entrepreneurs were in churches that were more pro-business. They asked about how and if their faith communities have inspired workers and entrepreneurs in their work. "So very soon we'll have an answer to that question," Dougherty says, "and I think it will be an interesting one for people."

This can-do attitude would be a very entrepreneurial, according to Young.

"Entrepreneurs think things are possible," Young says, "and they have faith that they are going to figure it out as they go along."

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