Brain-boosting drugs: 'Entrepreneur' pill

Better business ... through chemistry?

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(Fortune Small Business) -- So you want to be an entrepreneur? Today the first step is a solid business plan. Tomorrow it could be a bottle of pills. Cambridge University scientists made headlines last November by suggesting that an "entrepreneur drug" might someday replicate the brain chemistry seen in successful small business owners. Fortune Small Business checked in with Barbara Sahakian, Ph.D., who led the research, to hear her vision of the future.

Q: What could drugs do for small business owners?

Answer: We have some evidence that two areas could be affected by cognition-enhancing drugs: risky behavior in a decision-making context and cognitive flexibility.

Entrepreneurs must be able to tolerate risk. At some stage you have to take that little leap of faith and say, "This is going to work, and I'm doing this." And cognitive flexibility is important because an entrepreneur has to solve problems, and sometimes your first idea for a solution doesn't work.

Q: What about aspiring entrepreneurs?

Answer: Could you change a manager and make him more like an entrepreneur by enhancing his cognitive flexibility? That might be possible. Obviously you would have to be careful about stimulating risk-taking behavior.

Q: What would it take to make an entrepreneur pill widely available?

Answer: It would be very helpful if the regulatory bodies allowed the pharmaceutical industry to market cognition-enhancing drugs, provided that clinical trials demonstrate their long-term safety and efficacy in healthy adults.

Especially in this economy, any nation stands to gain by encouraging successful entrepreneurship. Because of the global economy, the whole world could be improved. I think it's really exciting.  To top of page

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QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
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- Spate, Orange, Calif.

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