Entrepreneurial Competencies

Every role has a skill and competency requirement. For a teacher or a performing artist, for example, it is the skill to communicate that plays a decisive role in their effectiveness besides, of course, their knowledge. For a craftsman or an artist, it is the creativity and skill in the chosen craft. Talking about entrepreneurship, you need to have a knack for spotting business opportunities and creativity and innovation in developing and delivering a product or service.

It is hoped that after reading this chapter you will actually see the potential of a career in entrepreneurship, and experience a desire to start a venture of your own .At the same time there might be certain inhibitions in your mind whether such a task is feasible, practical and sustainable. For every task one needs certain competencies. In this Blog post, we would be talking about the entrepreneurial competencies. Whereas competencies reinforce a person’s perception of feasibility of a career option, there also has to be the will and urge, a ‘perception of the desirability.’ Is it not paradoxical that entrepreneurship has a key role to play in economic development, yet there are very few who ever think of it as a career option? And, it is not that they may be lacking in skills. What one often finds is the lack of motivation!

Competencies equip you with the knowledge of how to do (‘know-how’) of entrepreneurial behavior and motivation provides answers to why to do (‘know-why’) of entrepreneurial behavior. You would also be learning about why people opt for entrepreneurship. The question of ‘why entrepreneurship’ is also linked to reward expectations, be these financial, social status or psychological satisfaction. In case of entrepreneurship, successful performance of the venture itself becomes a reward for the entrepreneur.

As noted in above, every career draws on the competencies of an individual. Some of these competencies may be general and some peculiar to the chosen career. You may understand competencies to mean abilities and skills. However, we would desist from calling these as personality traits as such a conceptualization only reinforces the mistaken belief that entrepreneurs are born rather than made. We believe that recognition of these competencies as abilities and skills makes entrepreneurship as a teachable and learnable behavior. In this blog post we would discuss about a set of entrepreneurial competencies developed by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) Ahmadabad. These competencies were identified by a thorough research procedure based on critical analysis of the case studies of the successful entrepreneurs. We also annex a questionnaire that you can use to evaluate your score on each of these competencies. We would also suggest how you might improve on your scores.


  • Initiative- acting out of choice rather than compulsion, taking the lead rather than waiting for others to start.
  • Sees and Acts on Opportunities- A mindset where one is trained to look for business opportunities from everyday experiences. Recall ‘oranges’ example.
  • Persistence- A ‘never say die’ attitude, not giving up easily, striving Information seeking continuously until success is achieved.
  • Knowing- Knowing who knows, consulting experts, reading relevant material and an overall openness to ideas and information.
  • Concern for High Quality of Work- Attention to details and observance of established standards and norms.
  • Commitment to Work Contract- Taking personal pains to complete a task as scheduled.
  • Efficiency Orientation- Concern for conservation of time, money and effort.
  • Systematic Planning- Breaking up the complex whole into parts, close examination of the parts and inferring about the whole; e.g. simultaneously attending to production, marketing and financial aspects (parts) of the overall business strategy (the whole).
  • Problem solving-Observing the symptoms, diagnosing and curing.
  • Self-confidence- Not being afraid of the risks associated with business and relying on one’s capabilities to successfully manage these.
  • Assertiveness- Conveying emphatically one’s vision and convincing others of its value.
  • Persuasion- Eliciting support of others in the venture.
  • Use of Influence Strategies- Providing leadership.
  • Monitoring- Ensuring the progress of the venture as planned.
  • Concern for Employee Welfare- Believing in employee well being as the key to competitiveness and success and initiating programmes of employee welfare.

The self-administered questionnaire in the annexure to this chapter would help you measure where you stand on these competencies. Given that these competencies matter in entrepreneurial success. EDI estimates that development of these competencies can substantially (as much as 33%) bring down incidence of business failures/industrial sickness.


‘Awareness,’ they say, is the first step towards ‘improvement’ and ‘success.’ Now that you are aware of the critical competencies for entrepreneurial success and also have a measure of your scores on these, it is appropriate that you also think in terms of how to improve your scores. Suppose, you find yourself lacking in the competency- ‘opportunity spotting,’ you may start practicing to think like an entrepreneur (See Box entitled ‘Thinking like an Entrepreneur’). With just a little change in perspective, the world changes for you. Similarly you may work on the other competencies as well.

The role of Prior Work Experience

Project work, summer training as well as prior work experience hone the entrepreneurial competencies. Whichever area you might decide upon to start a venture be it a school, restaurant, garments, courier service, interior decoration etc. along with the educational qualifications, if any, you need to acquire practical experience in that field. For it is while you get on the job training/experience that you familiarize your self with all aspects of the venture. You can learn as to how to handle customers, suppliers, and government officials, financiers. You will also be able to acquaint yourself with the nitty-gritty’s of the production process, bottlenecks like power disruptions, delay or non-availability of raw materials and a host of other things. Day to day dealings of the various facets of business will equip you to handle your own venture deftly, with confidence and with minimal of costly mistakes.

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