For many years researchers and practitioners tried to investigate the competency-based education, and the qualifications that should be taught to young people in order to be successful entrepreneurs.
This curriculum development method does not necessarily consider the educational content as the starting point, but the competencies that should be acquired in order to be successful in a certain task or job. Competencies are seen as characteristics that a person brings to a job situation, which can result in effective and/or superior performance in such job and include among others motives and traits, social role and self-concept, knowledge and skills. Concerning entrepreneurs, it seems that they do not have specific jobs but tasks to comply with as they start and manage their enterprise. Therefore, Izquierdo and Deschoolmeester, posed the question: what are the entrepreneurial competencies that the entrepreneurial education and training should address for entrepreneurs? This question is more important as far as it concerns young people and the tasks that a youth person should fulfill in order to start and run successfully an enterprise and the qualification that he/she should meet.
Back in the ‘80s Boyatzis supported that competences are the underlying characteristic exhibited by a person that can result in a job, and based on this definition Bird supports that entrepreneurial competencies are the personal characteristics which result in new venture creation, survival, and/or growth. According to the level of exhibition, entrepreneurial competencies are categorized as a) threshold which are those considered as baseline or at a minimum standard, and include the competencies required to successfully start an enterprise and b) success competences which are those for going beyond start up into organizational survival and growth.
Only few approaches were supported for the competence based education, with the first to focus on personal traits and characteristics, and the second on competences. Personal and psychological factors are important for entrepreneurial success and Lans supports that competences are a) context-bound, b) subject to change, c) connected to activities and tasks, d) subject to learning and development processes and e) they are interrelated. A second method consists of the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS). BARS are used to identify criteria for effective performance, using evaluation of job performance and the third method is the action research. Finally, Caird proposes another method for describing the competences. This analysis is a known technique for curriculum development and concerns the analysis of task related to a certain job or profession. Specific knowledge, skills and competences for each task should be met for the profile of the entrepreneur.
A question that should be addressed is which are the qualifications that a young entrepreneur should meet in order to start and growth his/her enterprise? According to Bird different levels of entrepreneurial competencies are exhibited by individuals who start an enterprise or manage existing organizations, but he also points out that research is differentiated, especially when the success criteria is considered.
Furthermore, competencies can include: recognizing the relevance of relationships in a business context, high quality of work, assertiveness, self-confidence, and taking actions to overcome obstacles. At the knowledge and skill level, finance/cash management, accounting, marketing, and sales have been frequently cited as important topics for entrepreneurship and also leadership, communication, and human relations are crucial for entrepreneurial success. Another proposed skill for the entrepreneur is creativity, and this presupposes differentiation, persistence and curiosity by individuals who should recognize new and innovative ideas. Other competencies and personal characteristics that are proposed for the entrepreneurial success are the tolerance for ambiguity, the opportunity recognition and evaluation, networking, intuitive thinking, and identifying and solving problems, and team building skills. Moreover, the extant literature highlights the importance of decision making competency as crucial within the entrepreneurial process.
Also, Izquierdo and Deschoolmeester in their extensive literature review suggested that the entrepreneur should meet the below listed knowledge/skills/competences:
- Decision making, Innovative thinking, Identifying and solving problems, Communication skills, Deal making and negotiation, Identifying business opportunities, Evaluating business opportunities, Team working skills, Intuitive thinking, Coping with stress, Coping with uncertainties, Team building, Taking calculated risk
However, according to Javier the entrepreneur should also have previous job experience. This point of view is based on an open exposition where the entrepreneur should have:
- knowledge of business sector and markets, knowledge on production process, technical knowledge of the product or service to be produced, knowledge for potential clients, knowledge and relationship with potential suppliers, management knowledge, leadership
Moreover, Byer & Fairmont suggested that the IT ability is crucial for business development while, Velegrakis in an extensive research stated that the personal characteristics/knowledge/skills/competences that an entrepreneur should have are:
- Attitude towards uncertainty and risk, Innovative spirit, Fulfillment of tasks and goals, Self-confidence, Communication skills, Ability to discover new opportunities, Conceptual ability (understanding the business as a system), Negotiation and decision-making abilities, Time management for own work and team's work, Fully leverage the capacities and the knowledge of employees, Promotion of mutual confidence, Ability to build and lead a team (leadership spirit), Project management ability, Ability to create and provide Strategic/Tactic/Operational plans, Allocation/attribution of tasks to human resources in an organization, Management ability of other (non-human) resources, Knowledge of what to think about when deciding whether to found a business or not, Awareness of corporate social responsibility, Knowledge of legal requirements for business, Knowledge of the most important legal forms of business ownership, Knowledge of the administrative/bureaucratic procedures for a business startup, Knowledge of general business conditions and functions, Knowledge about foreign trade and international business relations, Knowledge about the difference in financial issues between different types of enterprises, Knowledge about how to manage the different functions within an enterprise (production, sales, financial management, research & development.), Understanding the different forms of financing (self-financing, external financing), Basic skills for sales, Knowledge about accountancy and taxes, Ability to plan and control: direct costs, overhead costs, cost prices, gross and net sales price, and earnings/profit
Finally, a research conducted in the frame of a Leonardo da Vinci project named Studentstarter (www.studentstarter.eu) highlighted several personal and management competences and indicators for entrepreneurship and for the entrepreneur profile. These are:
- Planning and organization, Awareness of the market, Taking risks on a calculated base, To be proactive, Initiating, Perseverance / drive / motivation, Communication skills, Decisiveness, Customer orientation, Knowledge of environmental aspects, Networking ability