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Why your troubled teen might be the next Bill Gates
Good behavior isn't always a recipe for success
Not so bad, right?
Not so bad, right? Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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new study might bring a little relief to the harried parents of "troubled teens."

Using data collected from 1,000 people in Sweden over a 40-year period, and controlling for differences in socioeconomic background and intellectual competencies, researchers found that successful entrepreneurs were more likely to have ignored parents' rules, cheated, and shoplifted minor items as teenagers — bolstering previous studies that linked anti-social teen behavior to entrepreneurial drive.

The link is pretty intuitive. As a 2009 study from Arizona State University on the same topic laid out, risk-taking, which can look like a red flag in teens, is an essential ingredient in building your own business.

Entrepreneurs are often characterized by traits such as autonomy, innovation, and high risk taking. Almost by definition, an entrepreneur should be a rule breaker in order to be innovative and successful in the venturing process. Rule breaking refers to individual behaviors that "fail to conform to the applicable normative expectations of the group"... This definition reveals that rule breaking can be either positive or negative. [Journal of Business Venturing]

Of course, not every agro kid grows up to found a billion-dollar tech company. But a study released earlier this year from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the London School of Economics also tied troublesome behavior to benefits later in life, like higher salaries:

"Our data revealed that many successful entrepreneurs exhibited aggressive behavior and got in trouble as teenagers," [Ross Levine of Berkeley's Haas Economic Analysis and Policy Group] said. "This is the person who wasn't afraid to break the rules, take things by force or even be involved in minor drugs."

The study found that young people who possessed these trouble-making qualities went on to become high-earning salaried workers. And when opening their own businesses, they made 70 percent more money than they ever had as employees. [Yahoo News]

The newest study examined other aspects of the theory, as well. While entrepreneurs were more likely to be rebellious teens, they were not more likely to be full-blown criminals. (In other words, mimicking Jay-Z's career path is still ill-advised.) And another twist: Though rule-breaking and entrepreneurship were linked in men, the researchers found no such relationship in women.

Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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