In this paper we draw on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986) and examine the roles of the decision context (consisting of venture attachment, family time pressure, social approval pressure and the number of personal options) and one self-image (i.e., fear of failure) in SME owner-managers’ persistence decision making. We test our hypotheses using a metric conjoint experiment with 90 SME owner-managers and find the decision context and self-image interact in a complex way to influence owner-managers’ persistence decisions.