ORIENTATION: Current theories of repeat entrepreneurship provide little explanation for the
effect of failure as a ‘trigger’ for creating successive ventures or learning from repeated
RESEARCH PURPOSE: This study attempts to establish the role of previous failures on the
ventures that follow them and to determine the process of learning from successive failures.
MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Successive failures offer potentially valuable insights into the
relationship between failures on the ventures that follow and the process of learning from
RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: The researchers investigated a single case study of
one entrepreneur’s successive failures over 20 years.
MAIN FINDINGS: Although the causes varied, all the failures had fundamental similarities. This
suggested that the entrepreneur had not learnt from them. The previous failures did not trigger
the subsequent ventures. Instead, they played a role in causing the failures. Learning from
failure does not happen immediately but requires deliberate reflection. Deliberate reflection
is a prerequisite for learning from failure as the entrepreneur repeated similar mistakes time
after time until he reflected on each failure.
PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: It confirms that failure is a part of entrepreneurial
endeavours. However, learning from it requires deliberate reflection. Failure does not ‘trigger’
the next venture and educators should note this.
CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: Knowing the effect of failure on consecutive ventures may help us
to understand the development of prototypes (mental frameworks) and expand the theory
about entrepreneurial prototype categories.
The authors are indebted to the entrepreneur who participated
at extensive personal risk. They presented the first results at
the Babson BKERC conference in Madrid in 2007.