New research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business lends credence to the proverb “If at first you don’t succeed: Try, try, try again.”
After examining the records of 2.8 million small retailers in Texas, Professor Kathryn Shaw concluded that while “failure is very, very common” for even serial entrepreneurs, successive new ventures were likely to experience more and more longevity. “Failures,” then, can be reframed as lessons to benefit entrepreneurs’ new operations — the more experienced the entrepreneur, the more successful the business.
“If you are an entrepreneur, you want to continue to gain experience as an entrepreneur,” Shaw said. “It’s really a long-term commitment. Learning from that experience can shape your future.”
The examined records spanned a 22-year period during which 2.5 million retail business opened up and 2.2 million shut down. Out of all of them, small retailers fared the worst — they stayed open for only an average of 40 months. But, those entrepreneurs who stuck around found their efforts eventually rewarded — while only a quarter of first-time business owners opened a second business, those who went on to open second, third and fourth businesses increased their success rate relative to their previous each time, no matter whether their new operations were directly related to their last.
Overall, the findings show that entrepreneurship is “more of a craft than an aptitude.” So, forget worrying about whether you have “it” in you, and go out and learn “it,” fearlessly, because you will succeed if you keep trying.