More than money: developing an integrative multi-factorial measure of entrepreneurial success

Dominika Wach*, Ute Stephan, Marjan J. Gorgievski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article conceptualises and operationalizes ‘subjective entrepreneurial success’ in a manner which reflects the criteria employed by entrepreneurs, rather than those imposed by researchers. Using two studies, a first qualitative enquiry investigated success definitions using interviews with 185 German entrepreneurs; five factors emerged from their reports: firm performance, workplace relationships, personal fulfilment, community impact, and personal financial rewards. The second study developed a questionnaire, the Subjective Entrepreneurial Success–Importance Scale (SES-IS), to measure these five factors using a sample of 184 entrepreneurs. We provide evidence for the validity of the SES-IS, including establishing systematic relationships of SES-IS with objective indicators of firm success, annual income and entrepreneur satisfaction with life and financial situation. We also provide evidence for the cross-cultural invariance of SES-IS using a sample of Polish entrepreneurs. The quintessence of our studies being that subjective entrepreneurial success is a multi-factorial construct, i.e. entrepreneurs value various indicators of success with money as only one possible option.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1121
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Small Business Journal
Issue number8
Early online date12 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • entrepreneurship
  • success of entrepreneurs
  • firm performance
  • scale development
  • subjective sucess
  • Motivation


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