Serial Entrepreneurship: Learning by Doing?

38 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2014 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014

See all articles by Francine Lafontaine

Francine Lafontaine

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Stephen M. Ross School of Business; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

Kathryn L. Shaw

Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2014

Abstract

Among typical entrepreneurs, is the serial entrepreneur more likely to succeed? If so, why? We answer these two questions using a comprehensive and unique data set on all establishments started at any time between 1990 and 2011 to sell taxable goods and services in the state of Texas. An entrepreneur is defined as the owner of a new business. A serial entrepreneur is one who opens repeat businesses. The success of the business is measured by the duration over which the business is in operation. The data show that serial entrepreneurship is relatively uncommon in retail trade. Of the almost 2.3 million retail businesses of small owners of new businesses in our data, only 25 percent are started by owners who have started at least one business before, and only 8 percent are started by an owner who is still operating at least one other business started earlier. However, once one becomes an entrepreneur for a second time, the probability of becoming one a third time, or fourth time, and so on, keeps rising. Moreover, we find that an owner's prior experience at starting a business increases the longevity of the next business opened, and that controlling for person fixed effects, prior experience still matters. Finally, experience at starting retail businesses in other sectors (e.g. a clothing store versus a repair shop) is beneficial as well, though not as much as same sector experience, and not in the restaurant sector. We conclude that prior experience imparts general skills that are useful in running the new business.

Suggested Citation

Lafontaine, Francine and Shaw, Kathryn L., Serial Entrepreneurship: Learning by Doing? (July 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20312. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2471205

Francine Lafontaine (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109-1234
United States
734-647-4915 (Phone)
734-936-0279 (Fax)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

Kathryn L. Shaw

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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