If you asked me why I gravitated to startups rather than work in a large company I would have answered at various times:
“I want to be my own boss.”
“I love risk.”
“I want flexible work hours.”
“I want to work on tough problems that matter.”
“I have a vision and want to see it through.”
“I saw a better opportunity and grabbed it. …”
It never crossed my mind that I gravitated to startups because I thought more of my abilities than the value a large company would put on them. At least not consciously. But that’s the conclusion of a provocative research paper, Asymmetric Information and Entrepreneurship, that explains a new theory of why some people choose to be entrepreneurs. The authors’ conclusion —
Entrepreneurs think they are better than their resumes show and realize they can make more money by going it alone. And in most cases, they are right.
I’ll summarize the paper’s conclusions, then share a few thoughts about what they might mean — for companies, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial education. (By the way, as you read the conclusions keep in mind the authors are not talking just about high-tech entrepreneurs. They are talking about everyone who chooses to be self-employed — from a corner food vendor without a high school diploma to a high-tech founder with a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford.)
The authors’ research came from following 12,686 people over 30+ years.