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.

Putting the uni in unicorn

The Centre for Entrepreneurs in the UK published an interesting article earlier this year called: "Putting the uni in unicorn". Beyond being a fantastic name, it also has some great content.There is a link to the full article itself at the bottom of this blog and I recommend a read for those of you who are interested in the topic and have the time to read the 45 pages.

For those who do not have the time (or want to get an overview first), here is our summary (plus own thoughts) on what the article is about. Note: although it is UK-focused, there are plenty of lessons for educators in other regions too

Research (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and others) shows that many young people aspire to be entrepreneurs, but many do not act on this aspiration. Although this may not be totally surprising, the gap between aspiration and action is far too wide.

Universities are increasingly undertaking activities to stimulate entrepreneurship, but could and should certainly be doing more - and by doing so could close the gap mentioned above. The main problem (states the article) is that universities are engaging with students to increase the level of "enterprise thinking" and pre-startup activities rather than actually helping entrepreneurs startup businesses. Furthermore, the majority of the effort is aimed at undergraduates, while graduates do not get enough support - and this is the group that really have the time to launch a new venture. 

To digress from the article slightly and use some information from the"Enterprise Effectiveness Guidance" (released by the QAA for Higher Education), where they say the ultimate goal of enterprise and entrepreneurship education is to develop entrepreneurial effectiveness which arises from three areas: enterprise awareness, entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial capability and is best shown in the diagram that follows (taken from that paper):

Developing entrepreneurial effectiveness

At Mashauri, we agree with the QAA that students should be given the opportunity to develop this entrepreneurial effectiveness by receiving practice, training and support in the areas of awareness, mindset and capability.

Returning to the "uni in unicorn" article, they go on to describe the need for universities to supply incubators with a specific focus on, or at least track for, graduates of the university. There is a recognition that a large number (78% in the UK) of universities do provide incubation, but only 37% of those have any targeting at graduates. They are mainly aimed at spin-outs and external SME's; furthermore the definition of incubator had huge disparities from supplying a few hot desks through to proper office and lab facilities with business support.

A few other interesting points made were:

  • * In comparison to our US peers, we are far behind on tapping into the alumni network
  • * The American universities also have a far greater focus on incubators for graduates - sometimes combined with acceleration programs.
  • * UK universities are facing uncertainty re funding with the proposed abolition of the Higher Education Funding Council and the impact of Brexit on EU funds
  • * Student debt is also having an impact on the propensity of graduates to start a business versus the less-riskier full-time employment role.

A useful output is a summary of a research survey conducted among some incubator managers and the conclusions are a useful guide for anyone launching or upgrading their incubator. They cover topics including: who uses (should use) university incubators; what sort of businesses are started; how do incubators raise awareness and how do incubators define success.

The article concludes that supporting graduates in university incubators is necessary to close the gap between intention and action within a group of people who have the wherewithal (time and motivation) to do so. They offer some practical recommendations for universities and policy makers; and also comment on the type of metrics that are required, but seldom measured at the moment.

Mashauri supplies cost-effective online acceleration programs to universities to support them in developing "entrepreneurial effectiveness" among students and graduates. Please contact me at simon.gifford@mashauri.org for more information - or simply have a look around our website.

The original article can be seen below (there is a download button as well). 
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