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When I’m not researching business trends or writing articles, I spend time as a SCORE mentor counseling potential entrepreneurs. Recently, I noticed that a number of prospective clients appeared motivated by the nation’s economic uncertainty resulting from news related to potential budget cuts and sequestration. Many see entrepreneurship as one solution that gives them some control over their economic future.
This leads me to ask the question: do they have any experience related to the particular business, they’ve chosen? Often times they do have some relevant experience, but occasionally I meet an individual who has very little or no expertise for their chosen venture.
In that instance, I typically suspend judgment and provide the individual with the same support given any entrepreneur with a tremendous amount of expertise in their chosen endeavor. However, I routinely wonder “will the person be successful or not?”
Interestingly enough, this was also the question that Damon Phillips, the James P. Gorman Professor of Business Strategy in the Management Division at Columbia Business School, asked in his article entitled “Predicting Start-Up Success.”
The Research conducted by Phillips and Jesper B. Sørensen – Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor and Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University entitled: “Competence and commitment: Employer size and entrepreneurial endurance”, looked at aspiring entrepreneurs, to determine if previous employer size could forecast performance and commitment? What’s the likelihood of success?
The following excerpt is posted with the permission of Columbia Ideas at Work, a publication of Columbia Business School. The full article appeared in the Columbia Ideas at Work, a publication of Columbia Business School, Winter 2013 Edition and was originally posted online September 31, 2012. Predicting Start-Up Success By: Damon Phillips
“To get an idea of how an aspiring entrepreneur will do, you have to look at where they’ve been, says Professor Damon Phillips. The career experiences of entrepreneurs — before they become business owners — directly affect their success. “If an MBA student wants to be an entrepreneur, they often ask, ‘what type of firm should I work for, and why?’’’ Phillips says.
While many factors determine whether someone will become a successful entrepreneur, previous research has indicated that the size of an individual’s previous employer is particularly influential — and the smaller, the better. “Skill and vision are the two most important considerations for potential entrepreneurs,” Phillips explains.
“In a small company, you have to integrate across different functions and skills. Money can be tight, so there’s often an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset among employees. You don’t get that general skill set and broad vision in a larger company, where most employees have very specific jobs to do.” Read more
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