Skip to main content

Entrepreneurs’ achieved success: developing a multi-faceted measure

Abstract

Firm performance is typically measured via objective financial indicators. However, researchers increasingly acknowledge that entrepreneurs do not measure their success solely in financial terms but that a range of often subjective indicators matter to them. This article contributes to the debate on entrepreneurial performance by studying how entrepreneurs assess their achieved success. ‘Entrepreneurs’ achieved success’ was conceptualized as a multi-faceted construct that includes entrepreneurs’ self-reported achievement of firm performance, workplace relationships, personal fulfilment, community impact, and personal financial rewards. It was measured via the Subjective Entrepreneurial Success–Achievement Scale (SES-AS). Over the course of three studies (N = 390) the factorial structure of ‘entrepreneurs’ achieved success’ was established and largely replicated in two cultures. Based on a nomological network, we documented relationships among ‘entrepreneurs’ achieved success’, quasi-objective indicators of firm performance, and entrepreneurs’ financial satisfaction, creativity, and health. Based on our research, we propose a new conceptual framework to study performance in the context of entrepreneurship. This framework acknowledges both the success criteria that entrepreneurs wish to achieve and those that they actually achieve, and extends our understanding of firm performance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Angel, P., Jenkins, A., & Stephens, A. (2018). Understanding entrepreneurial success: A phenomenographic approach. International Small Business Journal, 0(0), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242618768662.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Appels, A., & Mulder, P. (1988). Excess fatigue as a precursor of myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal, 9(7), 758–764. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/9.7.758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Arbuckle, J. L. (2014). Amos (version 23). Chicago: IBM SPSS.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Baer, M., & Oldham, G. R. (2006). The curvilinear relation between experienced creative time pressure and creativity: Moderating effects of openness to experience and support for creativity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(4), 963–970.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bagozzi, R. P., & Yi, Y. (1988). On the evaluation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 16(1), 74–94. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02723327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bates, T. (2005). Analysis of young, small firms that have closed: Delineating successful from unsuccessful closures. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(3), 343–358. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2004.01.003.

  7. Bellach, B.-M., Knopf, H., & Thefeld, W. (1998). The German health survey. 1997/98. Gesundheitswesen (Bundesverband der Arzte des Offentlichen Gesundheitsdienstes), 60, 59–68.

  8. Benzing, C., & Chu, H. M. (2009). A comparison of the motivations of small business owners in Africa. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 16(1), 60–77. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626000910932881.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bilton, C. (2007). Management and creativity: From creative industries to creative management. London: Blackwell Publishing.

  10. Brammer, S., Millington, A., & Rayton, B. (2007). The contribution of corporate social responsibility to organizational commitment. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(10), 1701–1719. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585190701570866.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brodbeck, F. C., Frese, M., & Javidan, M. (2002). Leadership made in Germany: Low on compassion, high on performance. Academy of Management Perspectives, 16(1), 16–29. https://doi.org/10.5465/AME.2002.6640111.

  12. Bullinger, M., & Kirchberger, I. (1998). Fragebogen zum Gesundheitszustand: SF-36; Handanweisung. Göttingen: Hogrefe. 

  13. Busenitz, L. W., & Barney, J. B. (1997). Differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations: Biases and heuristics in strategic decision-making. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(1), 9–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0883-9026(96)00003-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Byrne, B. M., Shavelson, R. J., & Muthen, B. (1989). Testing for the equivalence of factor covariance and mean structures - the issue of partial measurement invariance. Psychological Bulletin, 105(3), 456–466. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.105.3.456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cassar, G. (2007). Money, money, money? A longitudinal investigation of entrepreneur career reasons, growth preferences and achieved growth. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 19(1), 89–107. https://doi.org/10.1080/08985620601002246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Chandler, G. N., & Hanks, S. H. (1993). Measuring the performance of emerging businesses: A validation study. Journal of Business Venturing, 8(5), 391–408. https://doi.org/10.1016/0883-9026(93)90021-V.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Chandler, G. N., & Jansen, E. (1992). The founder's self-assessed competence and venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 7(3), 223–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/0883-9026(92)90028-p.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Cooper, A. C., & Artz, K. W. (1995). Determinants of satisfaction for entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Venturing, 10(6), 439–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Cortina, J. M. (1993). What is coefficient alpha? An examination of theory and applications. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(1), 98–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Curtin, R. T., & Reynolds, P. D. (2008). Business creation in the United States: Panel study of entrepreneurial dynamics II initial assessment. Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship, 4(3), 155–307. https://doi.org/10.1561/0300000022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dess, G. G., & Robinson, R. B. (1984). Measuring organizational performance in the absence of objective measures: The case of the privately-held firm and conglomerate business unit. Strategic Management Journal, 5(3), 265–273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. DeTienne, D. R., Shepherd, D. A., & De Castro, J. O. (2008). The fallacy of "only the strong survive": The effects of extrinsic motivation on the persistence decisions for under-performing firms. Journal of Business Venturing, 23(5), 528–546. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2007.09.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Dijkhuizen, J., Gorgievski, M., van Veldhoven, M., & Schalk, R. (2014). Feeling successful as an entrepreneur: A job demands — Resources approach. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 12(2), 555–573. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-014-0354-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Dillman, D. A. (2000). Mail and internet surveys: The tailored design method. New York: Wiley. 

  25. Eddleston, K. A., & Powell, G. N. (2012). Nurturing Entrepreneurs' work–family balance: A gendered perspective. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(3), 513–541. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00506.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Edelman, L. F., Brush, C. G., Manolova, T. S., & Greene, P. G. (2010). Start-up motivations and growth intentions of minority nascent entrepreneurs. Journal of Small Business Management, 48(2), 174–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Fagenson, E. A. (1993). Personal value-Systems of men and Women Entrepreneurs Versus Managers. Journal of Business Venturing, 8(5), 409–430. https://doi.org/10.1016/0883-9026(93)90022-W.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Fischer, R. (2006). Congruence and functions of personal and cultural values: Do my values reflect my culture's values? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(11), 1419–1431. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167206291425.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Fischer, R., & Boer, D. (2016). Values: The dynamic nexus between biology, ecology and culture. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 155–160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.12.009.

  30. Fisher, R., Maritz, A., & Lobo, A. (2014). Evaluating entrepreneurs’ perception of success. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 20(5), 478–492. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijebr-10-2013-0157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: Algebra and statistics. Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 382–388. https://doi.org/10.2307/3150980.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Gielnik, M. M., Frese, M., Graf, J. M., & Kampschulte, A. (2012). Creativity in the opportunity identification process and the moderating effect of diversity of information. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(5), 559–576. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2011.10.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Gimeno, J., Folta, T. B., Cooper, A. C., & Woo, C. Y. (1997). Survival of the fittest? Entrepreneurial human capital and the persistence of underperforming firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(4), 750–783.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Gorgievski, M. J., Ascalon, E. M., & Stephan, U. (2011). Small business Owners' success criteria, a values approach to personal differences. Journal of Small Business Management, 49(2), 207–232. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-627X.2011.00322.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Gorgievski-Duijvesteijn, M. J., Giesen, C. W. M., & Bakker, A. B. (2000). Financial problems and health complaints among farm couples: Results of a 10-year follow-up study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(3), 359–373. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8998.5.3.359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Grant, S., & Ferris, K. (2012). Identifying sources of occupational stress in entrepreneurs for measurement. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 4(4), 351–373. https://doi.org/10.1504/ijev.2012.049828.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Gupta, A. K., & Govindarajan, V. (1986). Resource sharing among SBUs: Strategic antecedents and administrative implications. Academy of Management Journal, 29(4), 695–714. https://doi.org/10.2307/255940.

  38. Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., & Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate data analysis (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Hair, J. F., Hult, G. M., Ringle, C., & Sarstedt, M. (2016). A primer on partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Harada, N. (2003). Who succeeds as an entrepreneur? An analysis of the post-entry performance of new firms in Japan. Japan and the World Economy, 15(2), 211–222. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0922-1425(02)00002-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268–279.

  42. House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks: Sage publications. 

  43. Jayawarna, D., Rouse, J., & Kitching, J. (2011). Entrepreneur motivations and life course. International Small Business Journal, 31(1), 34–56. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242611401444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Kauanui, S. K., Thomas, K. D., Rubens, A., & Sherman, C. L. (2010). Entrepreneurship and spirituality: A comparative analysis of entrepreneurs’ motivation. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 23(4), 621–635. https://doi.org/10.1080/08276331.2010.10593505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Kopp, M. S., Falger, P. R., Appels, A., & Szedmak, S. (1998). Depressive symptomatology and vital exhaustion are differentially related to behavioral risk factors for coronary artery disease. Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(6), 752–758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Kunin, T. (1955). The construction of a new type of attitude measure. Personnel Psychology, 8, 65–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Kuratko, D. F., Hornsby, J. S., & Naffziger, D. W. (1997). An examination of owner's goals in sustaining entrepreneurship. Journal of Small Business Management, 35(1), 24–33.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Leiter, M. P., Hakanen, J. J., Ahola, K., Toppinen-Tanner, S., Koskinen, A., & Väänänen, A. (2013). Organizational predictors and health consequences of changes in burnout: A 12-year cohort study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(7), 959–973. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.1830.

  49. Lukes, M., & Stephan, U. (2012). Nonprofit leaders and for-profit entrepreneurs: Similar people with different motivation. Ceskoslovenska Psychologie, 56(1), 41–55.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Lumpkin, G. T., & Dess, G. G. (2001). Linking two dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation to firm performance: The moderating role of environment and industry life cycle. Journal of Business Venturing, 16(5), 429-451. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0883-9026(00)00048-3.

  51. Maseland, R., & van Hoorn, A. (2009). Explaining the negative correlation between values and practices: A note on the Hofstede–GLOBE debate. Journal of International Business Studies, 40(3), 527–532. https://doi.org/10.1057/jibs.2008.68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Mickiewicz, T., Sauka, A., & Stephan, U. (2016). On the compatibility of benevolence and self-interest: Philanthropy and entrepreneurial orientation. International Small Business Journal, 34(3), 303–328. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242614555245.

  53. Miller, C. C., Washburn, N. T., & Glick, W. H. (2013). Perspective—The myth of firm performance. Organization Science, 24(3), 948–964. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1120.0762.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Mitchell, R. K., Weaver, G. R., Agle, B. R., Bailey, A. D., & Carlson, J. (2015). Stakeholder agency and social welfare: Pluralism and decision making in the multi-objective corporation. Academy of Management Review, 41(2), 252–275. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2013.0486.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Orser, B., & Dyke, L. (2009). The influence of gender and occupational-role on entrepreneurs’ and corporate managers’ success criteria. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 22(3), 327–353. https://doi.org/10.1080/08276331.2009.10593459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Parker, S. C. (2009). Why do small firms produce the entrepreneurs? The Journal of Socio-Economics, 38(3), 484–494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Payne, D., & Joyner, B. E. (2006). Successful U.S. entrepreneurs: Identifying ethical decision-making and social responsibility behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 65(3), 203–217. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-005-4674-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Powell, G. N., & Eddleston, K. A. (2008). The paradox of the contented female business owner. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(1), 24–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2007.12.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rau, R., Hoffmann, K., Metz, U., Richter, P. G., Rösler, U., & Stephan, U. (2008). Gesundheitsrisiken bei Unternehmern. Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie A&O, 52(3), 115–125. https://doi.org/10.1026/0932-4089.52.3.115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Rauch, A., & Frese, M. (2007). Let's put the person back into entrepreneurship research: A meta-analysis on the relationship between business owners' personality traits, business creation, and success. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 16(4), 353–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/13594320701595438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Razmus, W., & Laguna, M. (2018). Dimensions of entrepreneurial success: A multilevel study on stakeholders of micro-enterprises. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 791. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00791.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Reijonen, H., & Komppula, R. (2007). Perception of success and its effect on small firm performance. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 14(4), 689–701. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626000710832776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Renko, M. (2013). Early challenges of nascent social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 37(5), 1045–1069. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00522.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Reynolds, P. D. (1987). New firms - societal contribution versus survival potential. Journal of Business Venturing, 2(3), 231–246. https://doi.org/10.1016/0883-9026(87)90011-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Richard, P. J., Devinney, T. M., Yip, G. S., & Johnson, G. (2009). Measuring organizational performance: Towards methodological best practice. Journal of Management, 35(3), 718–804. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206308330560.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Robichaud, Y., McGraw, E., & Roger, A. (2001). Toward the development of a measuring instrument for entrepreneurial motivation. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 6(2), 189-201.

  67. Sarasvathy, S. D., Menon, A. R., & Kuechle, G. (2013). Failing firms and successful entrepreneurs: Serial entrepreneurship as a temporal portfolio. Small Business Economics, 40(2), 417–434. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-011-9412-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Schaarschmidt, U., & Fischer, A. W. (2001). Bewältigungsmuster im Beruf. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

  69. Schulz, R., & Heckhausen, J. (1996). A life span model of successful aging. American Psychologist, 51(7), 702–714. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.51.7.702.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Schutjens, V. A., & Wever, E. (2000). Determinants of new firm success. Papers in Regional Science, 79(2), 135–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Seelos, C., & Mair, J. (2005). Social entrepreneurship: Creating new business models to serve the poor. Business Horizons, 48(3), 241–246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2004.11.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Shaw, E., & Carter, S. (2007). Social entrepreneurship. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 14(3), 418–434. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626000710773529.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Staniewski, M. W., & Awruk, K. (2017). Questionnaire of entrepreneurial success — Report on the initial stage of method construction. Journal of Business Research. 88, 437–442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.11.041.

  74. Stephan, U., Hart, M., & Drews, C.-C. (2015). Understanding motivations for entrepreneurship: A review of recent research evidence. Birmingham: Enterprise Research Centre.

  75. Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1999). The concept of creativity: Prospects and paradigms. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 3–15). New York: Cambridge University Press. 

  76. St-Jean, E., & Audet, J. (2012). The role of mentoring in the learning development of the novice entrepreneur. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 8(1), 119–140. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-009-0130-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Sydler, R., Haefliger, S., & Pruksa, R. (2014). Measuring intellectual capital with financial figures: Can we predict firm profitability? European Management Journal, 32(2), 244–259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2013.01.008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Terjesen, S., Vinnicombe, S., & Freeman, C. (2007). Attracting generation Y graduates. Career Development International, 12(6), 504–522. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430710821994.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Van de Ven, A. H., Sapienza, H. J., & Villanueva, J. (2007). Entrepreneurial pursuits of self- and collective interests. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1(3–4), 353–370. https://doi.org/10.1002/sej.34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Van Praag, C. M., & Versloot, P. H. (2007). What is the value of entrepreneurship? A review of recent research. Small Business Economics, 29(4), 351–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Vandello, J. A., Hettinger, V. E., Bosson, J. K., & Siddiqi, J. (2013). When equal Isn't really equal: The masculine dilemma of seeking work flexibility. Journal of Social Issues, 69(2), 303–321. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Wach, D., Stephan, U., & Gorgievski, M. J. (2016). More than money: Developing an integrative multi-factorial measure of entrepreneurial success. International Small Business Journal, 34(8), 1098–1121. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242615608469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Walker, E., & Brown, A. (2004). What success factors are important to small business owners? International Small Business Journal, 22(6), 577–594.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. York, J. G., & Venkataraman, S. (2010). The entrepreneur-environment nexus: Uncertainty, innovation, and allocation. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5), 449–463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2009.07.007.

  85. Zahra, S. A., & Wright, M. (2011). Entrepreneurship's next act. Academy of Management Perspectives, 25(4), 67–83. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2010.0149.

  86. Zhou, J., & George, J. M. (2001). When job dissatisfaction leads to creativity: Encouraging the expression of voice. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 682–696. https://doi.org/10.2307/3069410.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dominika Wach.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Table 9 Development of the Subjective Entrepreneurial Success–Achievement Scale (SES-AS, Study 1)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wach, D., Stephan, U., Gorgievski, M. et al. Entrepreneurs’ achieved success: developing a multi-faceted measure. Int Entrep Manag J 16, 1123–1151 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-018-0532-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Entrepreneur
  • Achieved success
  • Performance
  • Measurement instrument
  • Subjective assessment