How Childhood Trauma is Linked to Entrepreneurial Success

It is a common belief that people who experience childhood trauma are at a disadvantage in life. However, recent studies have shown that many successful entrepreneurs have experienced childhood trauma. This raises the question: how is childhood trauma linked to entrepreneurial success?

Childhood trauma can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence or substance abuse. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, an estimated 26% of children in the United States will experience some form of trauma before the age of four. This trauma can have a lasting impact on a person’s mental and physical health, as well as their social and emotional development.

But trauma can also have a positive impact on a person’s life. A study published in the Journal of Small Business Management found that entrepreneurs who had experienced childhood trauma were more likely to be successful than those who had not. The study found that childhood trauma was a significant predictor of entrepreneurial success, even after controlling for other factors such as education and prior work experience.

One reason for this link is that trauma can instill a sense of resilience and determination in individuals. Entrepreneurship requires risk-taking, perseverance, and the ability to bounce back from failure. These are qualities that many trauma survivors develop as a result of their experiences. As Lisa Shultz, a trauma survivor and author of “Awakening Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life,” writes, “If you can survive childhood trauma, you can survive anything.”

Another factor that may contribute to the link between childhood trauma and entrepreneurial success is the ability to think outside the box. Trauma survivors often have to develop creative solutions to overcome the challenges they face. This creativity and resourcefulness can be invaluable in the business world, where innovation is key to success.

In addition, trauma survivors may be more driven to succeed as a result of their experiences. Many trauma survivors have a deep-seated desire to prove themselves and overcome the obstacles that have been placed in their path. This drive and ambition can be a powerful motivator in the world of entrepreneurship.

Of course, it is important to note that not all trauma survivors become successful entrepreneurs. Trauma can also lead to a range of negative outcomes, including mental health issues, substance abuse, money problems, and difficulties with personal relationships. The link between childhood trauma and entrepreneurial success is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle.

That said, the link between childhood trauma and entrepreneurial success is a fascinating area of research that deserves further exploration. By better understanding the factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success, we can help more people achieve their dreams while providing them opportunities to heal from the obstacles they have faced.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, consider Travis Luther’s keynote speech on Childhood Trauma and Entrepreneurial Success.


  1. “Child Trauma Facts.” National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2021,
  2. Rigg, Cynthia, et al. “Entrepreneurial Resilience: The Influence of Childhood Trauma on Entrepreneurial Success.” Journal of Small Business Management, vol. 59, no. S1, 2021, pp. 19-33., doi: 10.1080/00472778.2021.1917546.
  3. Shultz, Lisa. “How Childhood Trauma Can Give Rise to Entrepreneurial Courage.” Thrive Global, 11 Jan. 2021,
  4. Childress, Sarah. “How Childhood Trauma Can Fuel Entrepreneurial Success.” Forbes, 5 Mar. 2019,