Low-wealth Entrepreneurs and Access to External Financing

Casey J. Frid, David M. Wyman, Bill Gartner, Diana H. Hechavarria

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    Purpose: -The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between low-wealth business founders in the USA and external startup funding. Specifically, the authors test whether a founders’ low personal net worth is correlated with a lower probability of acquiring funding from outside sources during the business creation process.
    Design/methodology/approach: -The authors use a double-hurdle Cragg model to jointly estimate: first, the decision to acquire external financing; and second, the amount received. The sample is the US-based Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics II (PSED II). The PSED II tracks business founders attempting to start ventures from 2005 to 2012.
    Findings: -Receipt of outside financing during business formation is largely determined by the business founder’s personal finances (controlling for human capital, venture type and industry, and whether money was sought in the first place). A higher household net worth results in larger amounts of external funding received. Low-wealth business founders, therefore, are less likely to get external funds, and they receive lower amounts when they do. The disparity between low-and high-wealth business founders is more pronounced for formal, monitored sources of external financing such as bank loans.
    Research limitations/implications: -Because the study eliminates survivor bias by using a nationally representative sample of business founders who are in the venture creation process, the findings apply to both successful business founders and those who disengaged during the business creation process. The authors offer insights into the sources and amounts of external funds acquired by individuals across all levels of wealth. The authors accomplish this by disaggregating business founders into wealth quintiles. The study demonstrates the importance of personal wealth as a factor in acquiring external startup financing compared to human capital, industry, or personal characteristics.
    Social implications: -If the ability to acquire external funding is significantly constrained, the quality of the opportunity and the skill of the business founder may be less a determinant of success at creating a new business as prior studies have suggested. Consequently, entrepreneurship (as measured by business formation) as a path toward upward, socioeconomic mobility will be afforded only to those individuals with sufficient financial endowments at the outset.
    Originality/value: -Unlike prior studies, the data used are not subject to survivor bias or an underrepresentation of self-employment. The statistical model jointly estimates acquisition of financing and the amount received. This resolves selection and censoring problems. Finally, the dependent variables directly measure liquidity constraints in the context of business formation, that is, before a new venture is created. Prior research contexts have typically studied existing businesses, and are therefore not true examinations of conditions affecting business creation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)531-555
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Wealth
    • Entrepreneurialism
    • Financing
    • Liquidity constraints
    • Nascent entrepreneurship

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