What skills do you need as an entrepreneur?

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This a question we get asked a lot. Often we refer to the mindset, the business knowledge and the so-called “I can do this” – attitude. But how do you learn and teach this in a consistent way that will work for students as well as teachers?

Let me introduce you to the EntreComp Framework

Researched and developed by the European Commission with the support and influence of many universities, schools, businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Europe, the EntreComp Framework is not a half-hearted attempt to put some names around the core ideas of entrepreneurship. A very well-researched project that defines some real trainable and testable competencies as a core of entrepreneurship.

The Joint Research Centre from the European Commission has come up with 15 core competencies, divided into three core areas:


  • Mobilising resources (gather and manage the resources you need)
  • Motivation and perseverance (stay focused and don’t give up)
  • Self-awareness and self-efficacy (believe in yourself and keep developing)
  • Financial and economic literacy (develop financial and economic know-how)
  • Mobilising others (Inspire, enthuse and get others on board)

Into action:

  • Taking the Initiative (go for it)
  • Planning and management (priorities, organise and follow-up)
  • Coping with ambiguity, uncertainty and risk (make decisions despite uncertainty, ambiguity and risk)
  • Working with others (team up, collaborate and network)
  • Learning through experience (learn by doing)

Ideas and opportunities:

  • Spotting opportunities (use your imagination and abilities to identify opportunities for creating value)
  • Creativity (develop creative and purposeful ideas)
  • Vision (work towards your vision of the future)
  • Valuing ideas (make the most of your ideas and opportunities)
  • Ethical and sustainable thinking (assess the consequences and impact of ideas, opportunities and actions)

The competencies listed above cover all the areas you as an entrepreneur should be good at if you want to have a fair chance to succeed with your business, project or idea. While all this is not that new, to my knowledge nobody has ever laid it out in such an easy-to-understand framework.

You can pick the area you feel you need to improve and learn the skills in that field. Not all of those are required right at the start, but in my experience, you will need all of them throughout your entrepreneurial carrier at one stage or another.

Another step currently tested is the introduction of the framework into schools and universities, helping children and students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset as early on as possible. And of course, it will mean for academies like ours to create the curriculum and training for everyone who didn’t have the opportunity early in life.

All of those skills can be learned at any time and don’t require prior studies. It doesn’t matter what your educational level is, you can learn the skills and become a competent entrepreneur.

It does not eradicate the risk when starting a business or a new career, but it won’t be a blind jump into the deep water anymore. Because of the skills, you will learn and master, you will be able to much better assess your situation and deal with it in a very professional way.

We still have a bit to go before this framework will be known and accepted in the business world. But I feel confident that in the near future, having a training or university certificate outlining the competencies you’ve gathered will be an advantage when it comes to finding investment, partners and clients.

I also believe that today’s almost 80% failure rate of new businesses will be drastically reduced. Good times are to come.

Here at the Entrepreneur Academy, we focus not only on knowledge sharing but also on the practical application of the knowledge in the real world and this framework allows us to create training specific to a competency.

Until now we covered many of the competencies of the framework through our blogs, videos, podcasts and direct coaching and mastermind groups, but we lacked the structure, and some areas were covered more than others. This is now going to change, and together with participating European universities and schools and with the help of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission we should be able to create a curriculum which will be accepted by all member states of the European Union.

Another great result of the research comes from a clear dictionary of terms often used related to entrepreneurship. There was a lot of confusion out there, and the same words were used for different meanings. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, let me give you the core definitions right here:


‘Attitudes’ are motivators of performance. They include values, aspirations and priorities.


In the context of the EntreComp study, competence is understood as a set of knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Crowd sourcing

Crowdsourcing is the practice of outsourcing necessary services, ideas, or content to a large group of people rather than assigning tasks to traditional employees or suppliers. Crowdsourcing typically takes place via the internet.

Digital entrepreneurship

Digital entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship that involves the use of new digital technologies (particularly social media, big data, mobile and cloud solutions). The purpose of this use may be to improve business operations, invent new business models, improve business intelligence or engage with customers and stakeholders.


In the context of the EntreComp study, an end-user is the person for whom something was ultimately created or intended.


Entrepreneurship is when you act upon opportunities and ideas and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural, or social.

Green entrepreneurship

Green entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship that has a positive effect on the environment and can be seen as a move to a more sustainable future.


Intrapreneurship is entrepreneurship inside an organisation.


Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, understands and can do after completion of learning. Such statements can be designed and used for educational planning and curriculum development or for different types of accountability such as legal accountability or professional accountability.

Practical entrepreneurial experiences

Practical entrepreneurial experiences are educational experiences where the learner has the opportunity to come up with ideas, identify a good idea and turn that idea into action. They require the involvement of external partners in the design and/or delivery of this learning to ensure relevance to the real world. Practical entrepreneurial experiences provide students with a supportive environment, where mistakes are embraced and failure is a learning tool to gain the confidence and experience to turn their ideas into action in the real world. Practical entrepreneurial experiences should be a student-led initiatives either individually or as part of a small team, involving learning by doing and producing a tangible outcome.


In the context of this work, ‘resources’ is a term that encompasses personal resources (namely, self-awareness and self-efficacy, motivation and perseverance), material resources (for instance, production means and financial resources) or non-material resources (for instance, specific knowledge, skills and attitudes).


Skills are the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).

Social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship that aims to provide innovative solutions to unsolved social problems. Therefore it often goes hand in hand with social innovation processes aimed at improving people’s lives by promoting social change.


Stakeholders are individuals, groups and organizations with a direct and indirect interest in the value-creating activity and its impact.


Uncertainty is a situation which involves imperfect and (or) incomplete information and which affects the predictability of outcomes. Uncertainty entails a risk of undesired effect or loss, whose probability and magnitude cannot be calculated.

Value creation

Value creation is the outcome of human activity to transform purposeful ideas into action which generates value for someone other than oneself. This value can be social, cultural or economic.

Imagine not only understanding the core principle of entrepreneurship but also feeling competent in all matters of creating value for others and making a life out of it. What would that mean to you?

The best part is that it doesn’t confine you into a cage. It gives you the space to be as creative and (or) unique as you want to be. More the opposite. Having learned, practised and feeling competent as an entrepreneur takes away most of the restraints and fears we all have when jumping into the deep end. You will be able to assess the possible depth, and you will know from which board to jump without being constrained while being as creative as you want on how you jump.

We are very excited and proud to be a stakeholder in the EntreComp Framework, and we hope you are as well.

Let us know your thoughts using the comments box below – and if you want to know more – check out the European Commission website or talk to us directly.

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Olivier

    Thank you for your nice article 🙂 (and all your videos). I would be glad if there are Entrepreneurs lunches 🙂

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