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Start-Up Size Strategy and Risk Management: Impact on New Venture Performance

  • André van Stel
  • Andrew Burke
  • José Maria Millán
  • Concepcion Roman

Start-up size is a key strategic decision for entrepreneurs. Should entrepreneurs start up close to minimum efficient scale or should they take less risks and start-up on a smaller scale? Previously, this strategic decision appeared to be one of simply making a choice between a higher risk/reward larger start-up versus a lower risk/reward smaller scale start-up. However, recent research on the relationship between risk management and performance (Burke, 2009) indicates that in situations of greater uncertainty and where innovation is incremental, a lower risk small start-up size can enable greater reward through enhanced post start-up flexibility and agility. In this paper we provide the first statistical test of the efficacy of start-up size strategies. We focus on employer businesses that provide jobs. We find that employer businesses that originally adopted a small scale (own-account) start-up strategy have higher survival chances and entrepreneurial incomes than employer businesses that employed personnel immediately from start-up. We also find that prior entrepreneurial experience positively affects firm survival and entrepreneurial incomes. Given the high failure rates among start-ups and the associated difficulty for new enterprises to create sustainable jobs, the research results highlight how strategic choice in relation to firm start-up size and risk management can have an important bearing on new venture performance.

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Paper provided by EIM Business and Policy Research in its series Scales Research Reports with number H201207.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 10 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eim:papers:h201207
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  1. Andrew Burke & Felix FitzRoy & Michael Nolan, 2008. "What makes a die-hard entrepreneur? Beyond the ‘employee or entrepreneur’ dichotomy," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 93-115, August.
  2. Bygrave, William D., 1993. "Theory building in the entrepreneurship paradigm," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 255-280, May.
  3. Andrew Burke, & Holger Görg, & Aoife Hanley, . "The Impact of Foreign Direct Investment On New Firm Survival in the UK: Evidence For Static v. Dynamic Industries," Discussion Papers 07/09, University of Nottingham, GEP.
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  8. José Millán & Emilio Congregado & Concepción Román, 2012. "Erratum to: Determinants of self-employment survival in Europe," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 259-263, February.
  9. Burke, Andrew E & FitzRoy, Felix R & Nolan, Michael A, 2000. " When Less Is More: Distinguishing between Entrepreneurial Choice and Performance," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(5), pages 565-87, December.
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  18. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  19. Corbett, Andrew C., 2007. "Learning asymmetries and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 97-118, January.
  20. Ardichvili, Alexander & Cardozo, Richard & Ray, Sourav, 2003. "A theory of entrepreneurial opportunity identification and development," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 105-123, January.
  21. Mirjam van Praag & Arjen van Witteloostuijn & Justin van der Sluis, 2009. "Returns for Entrepreneurs versus Employees: The Effect of Education and Personal Control on the Relative Performance of Entrepreneurs vis-a-vis Wage Employees," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-111/3, Tinbergen Institute.
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