Entrepreneurs holding down day jobs to pay the bills face a dilemma. In the macho-startup culture, risk is do or die, you have to be “all in”, you have to put in 80 hours a week. Some investors don’t take your seriously if you don’t kill yourself for your startup, or if your passion isn’t constant and unwavering.

Well, seems there is emerging evidence that the macho mentality is wrong-headed. University of Wisconsin professors studied this issue and found that entrepreneurs that keep their day jobs are more risk-averse and have lower core self-evaluation (i.e., aren’t overconfident) than those that take the full plunge. But the kicker is that these day-jobbing entrepreneurs (they call them hybrid entrepreneur) are more successful when they do finally commit to their ventures—they survive MUCH longer.

“we find evidence that individuals who enter full-time self-employment in a staged entry process through hybrid entrepreneurship survive significantly longer than individuals who enter directly from paid employment.” – Raffiee and Feng, 2014, p. 958.

They also find that the positive effect of hybrid entrepreneurship is stronger for more experienced entrepreneurs and individuals of lower intelligence. So unless you are a born genius, keeping your day job till your venture starts to pay dividends may be wise.

I thought this tidbit was extra-interesting in light of the recent push-back against the macho-entrepreneurship Zeitgeist. Check out this TED talk about the virtues of taking it slow! We always hear about speeding up–get to market–rarely about taking it easy.

Raffiee, J., & Feng, J. (2014). Should I quit my day job?: A hybrid path to entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Journal, 57(4), 936-963.


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