A recent scientific study suggests that belief in God produces a greater tolerance for positive risks.
By Geoffrey James, Contributor to inc.com
Through writing this column, I've learned a lot about how entrepreneurs think. They value courage, confidence and trying making the world a better place to live. I've also observed that many, and even most, entrepreneurs believe in God.
That's why I'm not entirely surprised that a scientific study conducted at Radboud University in the Netherlands strongly suggests that belief in God can make you a more effective entrepreneur.
The study measured the amount of risk that people are willing to take. It found that believers, due to their moral compass, were LESS likely to take self-destructive risks, like taking drugs.
At the same time, the study discovered that, due to their faith in God's protection, believers were MORE likely to take risks that could result in high rewards either emotionally or financially.
For example, believers are more likely to sky-dive than non-believers because their belief in God (and an afterlife) gives them additional confidence. Apparently the same effect applies to starting a business.
Multiple studies have already shown that entrepreneurs must be not just confident but overconfident or they wouldn't dare to start their own business. Apparently, belief that one's actions are part of God's plan is a good way to create strong self-confidence.
Furthermore, belief in God may increase the ability of an entrepreneur to create a community that works well together.
Some evolutionary biologists think that religions evolved as a human trait that made the survival of the group (and not just the individual) important.
While that might be true, it may be more useful to think of community building in terms of taking a series of positive risks. It's a risk to trust somebody to get a job done. Belief in God apparently helps entrepreneurs tolerate these personal risks be more willing to trust their colleagues and coworkers.
This is not to say it makes sense to become a believer simply in order to become a better leader. It's doubtful if that kind of "conversion" would provide enough belief to positively influence behavior.
However, the study does suggest that investors should consider belief in God as a positive indicator when evaluating a founder's potential to to succeed by taking positive, calculated risks.
With that in mind, perhaps the term "angel investor" should be treated as more than just a metaphor, eh?