Unveiling the Entrepreneurial Mindset: A New Approach to Education

Entrepreneurial competencies

Bridging the gap in entrepreneurial education, our newly developed framework, comprising 15 principal competencies, offers universities a comprehensive tool to intentionally cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset. This innovative tool ensures a targeted, nuanced approach to fostering entrepreneurship, replacing hopeful coverage with intentional teaching.

Note: from this introduction page you can click through to our interactive framework where you may explore all the principal competencies and their sub-competencies. You are also able to download a pdf of the full framework from there.

Certain competencies distinguish the mindset of the successful entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial landscape, ever-changing and thrilling, is a captivating world of possibilities and challenges. At its heart lie certain competencies and capabilities that constitute the quintessential entrepreneurial mindset. It is these traits that often distinguish a successful founder and their venture. Moreover, even for those not intending to delve into entrepreneurship, these characteristics can prove invaluable. They are sought after by corporates and organizations alike, underscoring their broader relevance.

Understanding these competencies allows us to know what and how to teach entrepreneurship

As educators vested in the realm of entrepreneurial pedagogy, the comprehension of these competencies becomes crucial. It serves two fundamental purposes: it enlightens us on what to teach, and perhaps more importantly, how to teach it. The competencies, a blend of cognitive and non-cognitive elements, are not merely subjects to be communicated but traits to be nurtured. A deeper understanding of these elements provides us with a robust metric to gauge the efficacy of our educational programs in cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

A framework to help design, develop and measure programs has remained elusive

Indeed, significant work has already been undertaken in this sphere. Noteworthy examples include Saras Sarasvathy’s exploration of “effectuation,” the European Union’s EntreComp framework, and the initiatives by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NTFE). Yet, despite these substantial efforts, a comprehensive framework catering to the unique requirements of designing, developing, and implementing high experiential programs remains elusive.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” we have developed a framework for program designers

Addressing this gap, we have synthesized our experiences and insights from existing research to develop a set of 15 principal competencies, each supported by several sub-competencies. The product of rigorous research, partially funded by an EU-based Higher Education Initiative, this framework promises a nuanced and holistic approach to entrepreneurial education.

We invite you to use this framework in your programs

We extend an invitation to universities developing and implementing entrepreneurial programs to utilize our work. Whether these programs form part of the accredited curriculum or are extra-curricular initiatives like accelerators or incubators, the framework can prove beneficial. Of course, the complexity and extensiveness of the framework mean it may not be fully covered by all programs, especially shorter ones. However, the framework enables educators to consciously choose which competencies to focus on, replacing reliance on hopeful coverage with targeted teaching.

Let us reshape entrepreneurial education together

Discover our framework at Mashauri Entrepreneurial Competency Framework  (MecFrame ) and join us on this exciting journey to reshape entrepreneurial education. We hope that, through deliberate design based on our framework, we can collectively nurture future entrepreneurs, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and mindset they need to succeed.

The age-old argument between entrepreneurs being made or born continues – and probably will do for long in the future. Our view at Mashauri is that anyone can be an entrepreneur. In fact many people are forced into this journey through necessity rather than desire – and many are successful despite not having the right “genes”.

However, we do believe there are certain personality traits (rather than personality types) that will make it easier for some than others. The three main ones are around risk propensity, self-belief and the way opportunities are viewed. If you want to know whether you have the type of personality that will help you to be a successful entrepreneur, take our test at:

 Entrepreneur Readiness Assessment

One of the better (non-academic) articles written on the subject was published by The Entrepreneur magazine called “Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?” They asked 2 experts to put forward the conflicting views:


James Koch Old Dominion
James Koch: entrepreneurs are born

James V. Koch from Old Dominion University who wrote a book on the topic put forward the “born” argument. His view is that entrepreneurs tend to have a personality type which he describes as:

“They have the ability to deal with uncertainty, to take risks and tolerate ambiguity. They usually have a personality that is mercurial, and they have highs that are really high and lows that are really low. There’s good evidence that they have strong self-confidence but also tend to be overoptimistic. They rely extensively on their own intuition.”

Fundamentally he questions whether entrepreneurship can be taught and that without this personality type, it will be difficult to fit in the role as an entrepreneur.

Julian Lange Babson College
Julian Lange: entrepreneurs are born

Julian Lange from Babson College argues the “entrepreneurs are made” point. He does not deny that there are certain proclivities that help, but he believes education can play an important role.

“I think much of the recent research shows that entrepreneurship can be taught. The thing that some people talking about genetics are getting at is that people have different proclivities toward entrepreneurship and different sets of skills or endowments intellectually. Maybe, simply put, you can’t teach someone to be passionate about entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and in my experience people can definitely discover their passion for entrepreneurship in the classroom. And in terms of general skills, if they start out with interests or endowments that make them more likely to be entrepreneurs or less likely, you can enhance their ability to be entrepreneurs through teaching. In some ways we can say there is a certain element of entrepreneurs that are born, not made. But some entrepreneurs can be made better.”

His conclusion is that education on entrepreneurship can make a real difference.

If you want to read the article, it can be found at: Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

As a professor at IE Business School, I sometimes give a lecture entitled “MBA versus entrepreneur” which highlights the way that the entrepreneurial thought and decision making process is different to a more corporate-type of person. This is slightly more scientific as it is based on solid research by Professor Saras Sarasvathy. It also supports the view that there are certain characteristics that, if you have them, will make it easier for you to be successful as a new company founder. (If you would like to have this lecture given at your organisation, contact me at simon.gifford@mashauri.org )

So why not go ahead, take our entrepreneurial assessment and see whether you have what it takes.