dimanche 28 juillet 2013

Should you befriend an unsuccessful entrepreneur?

The web is filled with celebrations of entrepreneurs who have failed (or celebrations of failure along the path to success). Venture capitalists often say they only invest in teams that have stumbled before: knowing adversity first hand, the theory goes, provides insight into avoiding missteps.
But what about when you’re choosing friends? Should you buddy up with unsuccessful entrepreneurs? Or only spend time with home run kings?
In 2011, Josh Lerner, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Ulrike M. Malmendier from UC Berkeley published “With a Little Help from My (Random) Friends: Success and Failure in Post-Business School Entrepreneurship.”
The study took advantage of the fact that H.B.S. is structured in sections – first year classes where students take all their courses together. I, for instance, was in Section G – and so I sat next to the same 90 people, in the same classroom, every day for nine-months while our professors rotate in and out.
Lerner and Malmendier found:
the peers that you have in those sections end up making a big difference in terms of whether you become an entrepreneur, and also what the outcomes of the ventures are. In particular, the more entrepreneurial peers — the people who had entrepreneurial experience prior to business school — that you have in your section, the less likely you are to become an entrepreneur, which was initially very surprising and the reverse of what we expected. But then when we looked more carefully at what the outcomes were, we saw that the more entrepreneurial peers you had in your section, the less likely you were to be an unsuccessful entrepreneur. In actuality, you were as likely, or even more likely, to be a successful entrepreneur.
What about you: have you learned more from your friends who have failed or succeeded?

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