The Passionate Combining Entrepreneurs

University dissertation from Östersund : Mid Sweden University

Abstract: Entrepreneurs are portrayed as salient drivers of regional development and for a number of years nascent entrepreneurs have been studied in a large number of countries as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor project and the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics. Scholars have devoted much effort to investigating factors that determine how individuals engage in entrepreneurial activities, with most of the discussion limited to business start-ups. However, since this type of project does not follow identical nascent entrepreneurs over time, limited knowledge exists about their development and whether they stay in this nascent phase for a long time. In practice, it is common for entrepreneurs to run a business and at the same time work in wage work, so-called combining entrepreneurs. In Sweden, almost half of all business owners combine wage work with a business. However, not all combining entrepreneurs will eventually decide to leave the wage work and invest fully in the business. Consequently, much research has focused on the first step of entering entrepreneurship full time, but less has focused on the second step, the transition from the combining phase to full-time self-employment. The aim of this thesis is therefore to contribute to the theory of entrepreneurship by gaining a deeper understanding of combining entrepreneurs and their motives and intentions. In the context of combining entrepreneurs, the theory of identity, resources and choice overload has been used to examine how entrepreneurs’ age (when starting the business), entrepreneurial tenure (the length of engagement in the side-business), hours spent (weekly involvement in the side-business), involvement in entrepreneurial teams (leading the business with one or more partners) and involvement in networks (business networks) influence their passion for engaging in entrepreneurship while sustaining wage work. Different categories of combining entrepreneurs and their intentions have also been examined. A survey was administered to 1457 entrepreneurs within the creative sector in two counties in Sweden (Gävleborgs County and Jämtlands County). Since there were no separate mailing lists to only combining entrepreneurs, the survey was sent to all entrepreneurs within the chosen industry and counties. The total response rate was 33.5 percent and of them 57.6 percent combined, yielding 262 combining entrepreneurs who answered the questionnaire. The survey was then followed up with eight focus group interviews and two single interviews to validate the answers from the questionnaire. The results indicate three types of combining entrepreneurs: nascent – with the intention to leave the combining phase for a transition into full-time self-employment, lifestyle – with the intention to stay in the combining phase, and occasional – with the intention to leave the combining phase for full-time wage work and close down the business. Transitioning fully to self-employment increases with the individual’s age. Also, a positive interactive effect exists with involvement in entrepreneurial networks. The results also indicate that the ability to work with something one is passionate about is the top motive for combining wage work with a side-business. Passion is also more likely to be the main motive behind the combining form among individuals who are older at business start-up, but passion is less likely to be the main motive behind the combining form among individuals who spend more time on the business. The longer the individual has had the side-business, the less likely passion is the main motive behind the combining form, and passion is less likely to be the main motive among those who are part of an entrepreneurial team.