Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship
Executive Summary — All else equal, a venture-capital-backed entrepreneur who starts a company that goes public has a 30 percent chance of succeeding in his or her next venture. First-time entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have only an 18 percent chance of succeeding, and entrepreneurs who previously failed have a 20 percent chance of succeeding. But why do these contrasts exist? Such performance persistence, as in the first example, is usually taken as evidence of skill. However, in the context of entrepreneurship, the belief that successful entrepreneurs are more skilled than unsuccessful ones can induce real performance persistence. In this way, success breeds success even if successful entrepreneurs were just lucky. Success breeds even more success if entrepreneurs have some skill. Key concepts include:
- There is evidence for the role of skill as well as the perception of skill in inducing performance persistence.
This paper presents evidence of performance persistence in entrepreneurship. We show that entrepreneurs with a track record of success are much more likely to succeed than first-time entrepreneurs and those who have previously failed. In particular, they exhibit persistence in selecting the right industry and time to start new ventures. Entrepreneurs with demonstrated market timing skill are also more likely to outperform industry peers in their subsequent ventures. This is consistent with the view that if suppliers and customers perceive the entrepreneur to have market timing skill, and is therefore more likely to succeed, they will be more willing to commit resources to the firm. In this way, success breeds success and strengthens performance persistence.