Investigation of the Factors Influencing SME Failure as a Function of Its Prevention and Fast Recovery after Failure

This paper presents a conceptual framework for investigation of the factors influencing the failure of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as the level of their recovery. Based on the review of literature, all the factors are classified either as individual characteristics of entrepreneurs or non-individual characteristics, that is, characteristics related to SMEs. Having in mind various factors identified by different researchers in their studies, the authors of this paper formed a basic hypothetical framework as well as a qualitative framework for evaluation of the most significant factors influencing SME failure and recovery. Accordingly, a preliminary questionnaire was designed in order to collect the attitudes of entrepreneurs regarding the impact of particular factors. The results of the survey were used for further quantitative analysis and as a base for the formation of a structural equation model for testing the proposed hypotheses. Using the structural equation model to derive results, the authors have found that all the analysed factors except the factors related to private time activities of entrepreneurs/owners of SMEs have a statistically significant influence on SME success, with external non-individual factors having the greatest influence. Furthermore, the results indicate that the level of recovery, business life cycle stage and the sector of a failed SME impact on the ranking of the factors leading to SME failure. The study points to the necessity of improving the conditions under which SMEs operate, primarily by removing the obstacles that hinder growth and development of SMEs as well as by developing the appropriate system of support for entrepreneurs. In addition, having a clear vision of the factors of failure can help SMEs to become more resistant to the adverse effects of these factors and deal with them more effectively.

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