The role of managerial experience in entrepreneurial success: a case of former corporate executives in private sector in Kenya
The Kenya private sector has over the years substantially contributed to the country's economic development process. Figures indicate that the sector contributes over 80% of the GDP; more than 50% of wage employment; and the bulk of export earnings. Kenya is a strong and regional financial capital enabling it to be rated as having the second largest stock market in Africa. However, business in Kenya for some time had been left to the Kenyans of Asian origin or those who have failed to attain high level of education; but since the turn of the millennium, Kenya is experiencing an explosion in the growth of entrepreneurial business. Studies indicate that more Kenyans are working to start their own businesses. Prior researches on entrepreneurship have mainly focused on entrepreneurial challenges, characteristics and behaviorism; with none linking work experience to entrepreneurial success. No research has established how highly-trained group of executives who leave corporate environments to start businesses of their own perform entrepreneurially. The purpose of the study was to establish the role of managerial expenence in entrepreneurship success and to establish what factors influence the relationship between managerial experience and success. This study was a cross sectional descriptive survey undertaken among former corporate executives in private sector in Kenya. The target population consisted of all former corporate executives in private sector in Kenya. A sample size of 50 respondents was surveyed using semi-structured questionnaires. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as the frequencies, mean and the standard deviations. The study found that managerial experiance played a very important in entrepreneurship as it brings along analytical competence, operational competences, strategic competences and relationship competences. The study also found that factors that influence the relationship between managerial experiences and success were such as problem solving skills, social relation skills, risk taking, negotiating skills, team work, creativity, technical knowledge, marketing, administration, planning skills and communication skills which were acquired through employment. The study concludes that while these managerial skills were mostly administrative, as entrepreneurs, they needed the same for business runup and growth. Therefore, work experience does matter. The study concluded that whereas entrepreneurs acknowledged that their work experience assisted them in their new ventures, they felt that entrepreneurship involved more than education, knowledge and experience. They indicated that to be a successful entrepreneur, one needed to learn new skills 'a street smartness', vital to his/her survival. These skills included flexibility, openness to new experiences, and a new way of looking at things.