Entrepreneurship in hard times

The process of entrepreneurship is characterized by success but also by failure. In research, a lot of attention is paid to how to start a business, grow it and be successful. However, little attention is paid, however, to the process of failure and restart of entrepreneurs and the agility that is required for this. In the line of research on doing business in bad times, we look at the context and the decisions made before a failure. We also investigate how entrepreneurs learn from that period and what they do to overcome the setbacks. Based on this research, we formulate lessons for (future) entrepreneurs, students of entrepreneurship, policy makers and professionals who support entrepreneurs.

What do we do?

Within the Professorship of Entrepreneurship, we conduct scientific and applied research into failure and restarting of enterprises and entrepreneurial ideas in a broad sense. We work closely together with education within various faculties of our own university and of other institutions. We want to create awareness that failure or setbacks are common steps in entrepreneurship. By being aware of this, early signs can be recognized and major problems can potentially be avoided.

The modules and tools that have been developed, partly on the basis of research, can be incorporated into regular education and research programmes. We invite researchers and teachers to integrate these modules and tools into their curriculum. The insertion of these modules contributes to a broader and more balanced view of entrepreneurship and helps students to better develop their own entrepreneurial intentions.

Students (Bachelor and Masters) can use our database to write their thesis, which now contains more than a thousand stories of entrepreneurs who have had setbacks. They are supervised by the researchers of project Fenix ​​in the process of writing a thesis.

Annual report Fenix project


Gain insight into the process of failure and restart and the agility needed during this process. We want to recognize patterns and derive lessons from them for (future) entrepreneurs, students in entrepreneurship, scientists, policy makers and professionals who are involved with entrepreneurs.

In particular we aim to:

  • Create awareness regarding of the frequency of entrepreneurial failure and recovery;

  • show that failure and recovery are a natural part of the entrepreneurial process and that even the best and most experienced entrepreneurs can be confronted with it;

  • describe how entrepreneurs and their stakeholders react to and overcome business failure;

  • formulate lessons to reduce the (financial, social, emotional and other) costs of business failure and speed up the recovery process;

  • share these lessons, through publications, presentations, teaching materials, and policy advice

Are you an entrepreneur?

Experienced entrepreneurs can help to provide a useful approach and mentorship guidance. Together we can formulate lessons (financial, social, emotional and others) to reduce and to speed up an entrepreneurial recovery process. Each entrepreneurial story matters to understand different economic sectors and different personalities.

Are you an advisor for entrepreneurs?

We can support you to develop a useful tool to provide advice in scenarios of failure and recovery. We work together with different companies, non-profit organizations, municipalities and financial actors to prevent failure and support the recovery process.

Are you a teacher in entrepreneurship?

We can support you to adapt the teaching materials to be used for the profile of your students. We have workshops and presentations about the causes of failure and the patterns of recovery. We guide you with a manual to use entrepreneurial stories as learning assignments.


Jeanne Martens j.w.g.m.martens


Published by  Entrepreneurship 13 February 2023