The secrets to successful entrepreneurship: how occupational experience shapes the creation and performance of start-ups

Yongqiu Wu, Gideon Maas, Yi Zhang, Fengwen Chen, Senmao Xia, Kiran Fernandes, Kun Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
167 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Previous experience is a critical factor affecting entrepreneurial activities; however, it has not been fully studied in the existing literature. This study attempts to comprehensively reveal the routes and mechanisms of occupational experience that affect entrepreneurial activities and assess the entrepreneurial potential of different occupational practitioners.

Design/methodology/approach: By matching occupational characteristics with entrepreneurs' competence, this study proposes ten hypotheses about how occupational experience affects entrepreneurial entry and performance. This empirical study is based on the Occupational Information Network database and Chinese survey data. Factor and regression analyses were used in the empirical research.

Findings: This study verifies that different occupational practitioners have varied entrepreneurial potential. Occupational experience, including occupational uncertainty, market contact and social capital, gained from previous experience significantly affects entrepreneurial entry. Meanwhile, occupational characteristics, including management experience, marketing experience, social capital, financial capital, risk-taking ability and creativity, accumulated from previous experience, have a significant impact on entrepreneurial performance.

Originality/value: This study is a pioneering attempt to reveal the relationship between occupational experience and entrepreneurial activities. The transmission mechanism of previous experiences affecting entrepreneurial activities is comprehensively revealed by relaxing the assumption of a representative occupation. These findings provide a theoretical foundation for empirical evidence and have important practical value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-384
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders. This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by National Social Science Fund of China (Grant No. 18BJY050), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72172020), and China Association of Higher Education (Grant No. 21YDD05).


  • Entrepreneurial entry
  • Entrepreneurial performance
  • Occupational experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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