Not necessarily, a recent study finds. In fact, serial entrepreneurs overall tend to have very dismal track records. That's the finding of a study from the Centre for European Economic Research, surfaced by Walter Frick at the Harvard Business Review blogsite. The study was based on the success and failure rates of 8,400 entrepreneurial ventures in Germany, and concludes that previous experience in the entrepreneurial realm doesn't really predict success going forward.
Previously failed entrepreneurs are less likely to survive and, in common with entrepreneurs with mixed prior experiences, are more likely to experience bankruptcy. We find that portfolio and serial experience is unrelated to survival or avoiding bankruptcy. Our results showed that venture survival outcomes are unrelated to prior successful entrepreneurial experience and that failed entrepreneurs are more likely to fail again.Frick takes issue with the Centre's glum findings -- skills gained in previous entrepreneurial experiences do matter a great deal, he opines. The entrepreneur's education makes a difference, for example. Frisk also cites a 2009 Harvard Business School study of venture-backed startups "that did find previously successful entrepreneurs to be more likely to succeed in a subsequent venture." The study also concluded that "failed entrepreneurs are about as likely to succeed as novices," he adds. The bottom line: past experience is a predictor of an entrepreneur's ability, he states.
It's true that many well-known business founders, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, were extremely successful in their first ventures. More often than not, it's been a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
(Thumbnail photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture.)