Becoming a chicken entrepreneur has very little to do with Colonel Sanders, Frank Purdue or Kenny Rogers, although one might make an argument for the country singer and roast chicken entrepreneur. In reality, a chicken entrepreneur is someone who pursues a second business while maintaining a full-time job in his or her chosen field. For example, a tax accountant for a large corporation may choose to open a private tax preparation business on nights and weekends, or a professional chef may own a small bistro on the side.
The origin of the term "chicken entrepreneur" may have started at a time when a number of would-be investors were literally offered fried chicken franchises as lucrative side businesses. Investment in these fast-food operations would not have required owners to quit their regular jobs, since qualified workers and managers would be responsible for the day-to-day operational needs. A fried chicken entrepreneur would only have to devote a few hours a week supervising and promoting the business.
Other sources say the keyword in "chicken entrepreneur" is chicken. Many people have dreams of quitting their primary jobs entirely to pursue small business ownership, but they are simply too "chicken" to cut off all ties to a secure income with benefits. By becoming a chicken entrepreneur, a fledgling small business owner can still meet his or her financial obligations while learning the ropes of a new enterprise. If the small business or franchise investment does work out successfully, then and only then would a chicken entrepreneur consider quitting his or her primary source of income.
If current statistics remain true, there are a number of compelling reasons why someone might want to remain a chicken entrepreneur instead of a small business owner. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), nearly half of all small businesses fail within a year. Even more alarming, an estimated 90 to 95 percent of small businesses fail within five years. With those statistics to consider, it is no wonder many would-be small business owners pursue the chicken entrepreneur course of action.