Some studies explore whether and how expectations about the venture’s performance drive entrepreneurs’ motivational force to pursue such ventures (Uy, Foo, & Ilies, 2015; Renko, Kroeck, & Bullough, 2011), while others explore the link between expectations and entrepreneurial performance (Hoang & Gimeno, 2010; Wiklund & Shepherd, 2003).

We explore the implicit assumption that the factors affecting expectations also affect performance through the lens of expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) by theorizing about the effects of three important experience types (specific industry experience, managerial experience, and start- up experience) on entrepreneurial expectations. Then we argue that experiences affect expectations, yet not all types of experience also impact performance in terms of persistence throughout the nascent venture stages.

We offer three contributions. First, if one type of experience impacts expectation without impacting performance and another impacts performance without impacting expectations, tests that combine experience types might be misleading. Second, because it is important to understand the factors that ‘keep venturers going’ (Wicker & Davidsson, 2015), we show which forms of experience may lead venturers to persist throughout the initial venture development phase. Third, our study cautions against survival bias since venturers who do not persist are not part of any subsequent studies on entrepreneurial performance.