Failure Can Breed Success

Entrepreneurs attribute their success to their experience, not to their university degrees, new research shows. The research was conducted by the Kauffman Foundation, based in New York City, the world’s largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship. More than 540 company founders participated in the survey, “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Making of a Successful Entrepreneur.” The sample of small business owners and entrepreneurs was specifically selected to represent high growth companies nationwide.

What is important to entrepreneurial success? Experience, in its many guises, according to the report:

  • Prior work or industry experience was extremely important to 58 percent.
  • Lessons learned from previous failures, 40 percent.
  • Lessons learned from previous successes, 39 percent.
  • Management team was ranked extremely important by 35 percent.

The results of the survey were gratifying but not surprising to Geri Stengel, founder of Ventureneer, online education and peer support for entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, New York, NY. “The fact that previous failures and successes were extremely important just underlines the need for peer support, mentors, and classes devoted to analyzing successes and failures,” Stengel says. “Small business owners and entrepreneurs, both start-up and experienced, need advice, resources, and networks that allow them to learn from failure without having to experience it.”