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.

This will be a controversial article, but I have reached the point where I feel I must go against the flow. I need to challenge the  “common wisdom” of the industry experts and say “It’s not OK!”

I am referring to the commonly-held view that 80% (more or less depending on the research) of all new businesses must fail. I think it is time that someone said: “Bullshit! That does not HAVE to be the case.”

This revelation came to me while I was attending the first day of the South Summit in Madrid yesterday – the highly motivating and well-organised startup event (well done Maria Benjumea and team). The problem is among all the showcasing of startup success, there is a well-accepted view that

  • the vast majority of startups must fail, and
  • failure is good and is simply a learning experience.

To me that feels like going to an International Medical Conference and hearing that elevated infant mortality rates is OK – but not to worry, the survivors will be fine!

This high failure rate of new business is not “fine”. It is a massive waste of resources, brain-power and energy. And it can have incredibly negative impact on those that do not make it! If you are. 23 year old in San Francisco with access to plenty of capital, maybe its OK. But there are many cases where failing and starting again is not an option. For instance when I was chatting to an Uber driver in Nairobi earlier this year (who runs 4 small businesses), he estimated that about 20 people within his family depend on his earnings.

I get a little annoyed when I hear VC’s saying they invest in 1000 ventures to enjoy the successes of a few – and never mention those who do not make it. Or the accelerators who pick the top 20 startups and discard the other 2,000 who applied for their help but did not make the cut. I get it that these are their business models, but I do not get the callous way in which rhe rest are told “shit happens”. If you need to finance 1000 to find 3 unicorns, are the unsuccessful simply collateral damage?

I am not naive, I have been helping companies to survive and grow for 3 decades. There will be failures. Not all ventures should succeed. But I am optimistic and do not believe that such a high proportion need to fail to allow for this learning.

Maybe its time to say “Its not OK” and disrupt the new venture industry!

Watch out for the next post where I will add a bit of fact and rationale behind my rant. In the meantime, why not start a conversation? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Comment below.

Footnote: it was good to meet up with the people from FACE  who are trying to help entrepreneurs face the challenges along the journey.

Mashauri is focused on the support of early stage ventures and are about to launch our new site Mashauri.org where we are going to take some tiny steps in this reinvention process. Why not sign up (top right-hand corner or form below) and follow our progress.