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.

Leading the thinking on entrepreneurial strategy

In the development of the Mashauri concept and our current work in development of our courses and programmes, we have conducted significant research – both primary and secondary. In the latter area, we have come across some brilliant work: authors/entrepreneurs who really form the basis for much of the advanced entrepreneurial thinking of today.

We have also come across (probably more) books and articles that frankly are rubbish and are at best misleading if not downright damaging to founders who take the teachings to heart.

We recognise that it is tough for the first time founder to really sift through all the advice and work out what to do and what is the best process to follow. In fact, this is part of the underlying raison d’etre of Mashauri – to allow founders to gain this knowledge without going through the mega-hours of reading and/or lectures and running the risk of taking the bad advice. We thought it might be useful if we gave a (very) brief summary of the giants on whose shoulders we are standing and the key elements of their teachings.

I must mention there are many names we are not including here who have been influential in our thinking such as Noam Wasserman (The Founders Dilemma), Bill Aulet (The Disciplined Entrepreneur) and Brant Cooper (The Lean Entrepreneur) to name but a few. But there are six who have really helped us shape our programme.

Below we list them, together with the critical learning point that we have adapted into our thinking and programmes. (Warning: this is a high level summary and each expert puts across much more than the one key point we are highlighting here.)

Roughly in order of the entrepreneurial journey:

1.Saras Sarasvathy.Saras Sarasvathy
Sara, professor at Darden is a prolific write but at the core is what she terms “effectuation” that discusses the logic behind entrepreneurship and a common process the entrepreneur can follow. She is probably he least well known of the group of six, but her work dovetails well with these other leaders.

Critical learning: entrepreneurs start with their capabilities (who they are, what they know, who they know). That is they do not start with their goal, but rather see which goals they can reach with these capabilities and available opportunities.



2.Clayton Christensen.Clayton Christensen
Clayton, professor at Harvard wrote the book:  The Innovators Dilemma where he explains the theory underlying disruptive innovation. Although not all entrepreneurs are in the “disruption” business, many of us are.

Critical learning: how are you solving your potential customer’s problem differently to how it is already being solved and how will you scale that innovation into other markets.



3.Alex Osterwalder.Alex Osterwlder
Alex and his co-authors’ book on Business Model Generation and subsequent book on Value Proposition Design have really helped to shape thinking around entrepreneurial business models and provided some excellent tools to facilitate that thinking.

Critical learning: Understand the key elements of your business model and how they should operate synergistically to deliver the value proposition to your customer.



4.Eric RiesEric ries

Eric’s book, The Lean Startup, has become the basis to the development of a scientific approach towards developing a new venture.

Critical learning: the process of starting a new business is really a series of experiments around your business model where the output is learning and refinement.



5.Steve BlankSteve Blank
No list like this would be complete without mentioning Steve Blank (actually Eric’s former teacher and mentor) who wrote The Startup Owner’s manual and subsequently The Four Steps to Epiphany where he describes the major phases in new venture development.

Critical Learning: Steve’s rallying cry: “get out of the building” (meaning physically get out into the market and interact with customers) is essential and underpins every one of the previous four learning points.


6. Paul GrahamPaul Graham
The founder of Y Combinator is famous for his incredibly insightful, and often humorous, essays. They are a veritable fountain of sensible advice.

Critical Learning: Make something people want!


The above list really frames the strategy, process and modus operandi of how to go about designing, launching and developing a new business.