This article was co-authored by Dogus Acar and Deniz Yegul. Dogus Acar is the Project Leader at Beginning Node Academy. Deniz Yegul is a student at Enka High School.
Entrepreneurship education has been widely discussed as a way to develop entrepreneurial skills. This study aims to investigate the effect of entrepreneurship education on the development of entrepreneurial skills. It was made a literature review to analyze the findings of previous studies on the topic. Besides the personal, social, economic, and environmental factors, the research found that entrepreneurship education can play a significant role in the development of entrepreneurial skills, including problem-solving and decision-making, business planning, financial management, marketing and sales, networking, and communication. Studies also show that entrepreneurship education can provide students with a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial process, which can help them identify opportunities and develop the skills they need to build and grow a successful business. In addition, it is crucial to note that entrepreneurship education is alone insufficient to develop entrepreneurship skills, and also requires practical experience, self-motivation, and creativity. This article concludes that entrepreneurship education can be an effective tool for developing entrepreneurial skills, but to be fully effective, it must be combined with other forms of learning and real-life experience.
Entrepreneurship is the process to create a business model to make a profit by identifying a need in the market and developing a product or service that will meet this need. Due to the creation of new business models and professions, entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in economic growth. According to the report of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), entrepreneurs globally have an 85% effect on the process of formation of new professions (Autio, et al., 2017). The business models built by the entrepreneurs create an environment enhancing competition in addition to increasing productivity. At this point, entrepreneurship offers individuals the opportunity to take control of their own careers and make a crucial impression in their communities. It provides personal and professional development including the skills of starting a business, decision-making, and problem-solving. According to research conducted by The Kauffman Foundation, entrepreneurs have higher self-confidence and personal satisfaction compared to non-entrepreneurship (Fairlie, 2008). It provides community development in addition to individual development. Thus, entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to make a social and environmental influence with the business models they have produced (Dacin, et al., 2011). In this context, the reason why entrepreneurship is preferred so much nowadays is that it offers individuals the opportunity to take control of their careers, direct innovativeness and economic growth, and also to make a positive impact on society by achieving financial independence.
The fact that entrepreneurship has recently become quite interesting has led to a discussion about whether entrepreneurial skills are innate or acquired skills. Although some individuals have natural tendencies to take risks, creativity, and self-motivation; others turn to entrepreneurship education to complete their development in these subjects. Within this scope, in this article, whether entrepreneurship is innate or one of the skills which can be acquired will be examined.
The definition of an entrepreneur has developed over time through different perspectives and understandings that have emerged in different periods. In the 18th and 19th, entrepreneurs were primarily seen as people taking financial risks to build and run new businesses. It was generally speculated that the rise of the industrial revolution and capitalism had a great impact on this matter. The definition of the entrepreneur was first introduced in 1755 by Richard Cantillon in his book “Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General” as a person who takes the risk except for the owner of the capital. In the 20th century, the definition of entrepreneur has broadened in the manner that it includes not also people who start a new business, but also those who create new products, services, and markets. Entrepreneurs were seen as innovative, creative, and willing to take risks. In 1911, Economist Joseph Schumpeter first introduced the concept of “creative destruction”, which is associated with entrepreneurs who bring new products, services, and technologies to the market, in his book “The Theory of Economic Development”. In the 21st century, this definition has become even broader by including not only those who build and run a business, but also those who create social, cultural, or environmental influence. In this context, entrepreneurship is seen as a way to direct economic growth and development as well as discuss social and environmental challenges. This new definition was first proposed by Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, in the early 1980s.
2. Entrepreneurial Competencies
Depending on the definition of the entrepreneur which is shaped within the framework of an entrepreneurial perspective changing over the years the characteristics that are commonly seen in entrepreneurs also change. Within this scope, researchers take into consideration economic, psychological, and sociological factors. The prominent characteristics are being resilient in the face of uncertainty, curious, risk-taking, disciplined, competitive, and having the will to succeed (Feist, 1998). The most important three characteristics are considered as being risk-taking, having the will to succeed, and being resilient in the face of uncertainty (Chell, 2008, s.111).
Resilience in the face of uncertainty is the ability of entrepreneurs to adapt and cope with uncertainty and unpredictability, and to continue to pursue their goals despite the absence of a clear or definite path. The ability to cope with uncertainty is very crucial for the success of entrepreneurs, as it allows entrepreneurs to identify and take advantage of new opportunities and overcome the challenges of the rapidly changing business environment. A study conducted by McMullen and Shepherd (2006) found that entrepreneurs who can adapt to changes in the market are more likely to be successful in their ventures. Being able to take risks means that entrepreneurs are willing to invest time, money, or other resources in the pursuit of an uncertain result. Entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks are more likely to pursue new business opportunities and push the boundaries of what is possible. According to another study conducted by Scott and Bruce (1994), it was found that entrepreneurs with a high level of risk-taking tend to be more successful in their ventures.
Being able to take risks doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs should engage in reckless behavior. It is crucial to be able to calculate and evaluate risks before taking them. Entrepreneurs take calculated risks by analyzing the potential costs and benefits, evaluating the probability of success, and developing a plan to reduce the potential risks.
The will to succeed expresses the urge and motivation that entrepreneurs have to achieve their goals and succeed in their ventures. Entrepreneurs having a strong desire to succeed are willing to spend the time and effort required to achieve their goals and they are not easily discouraged in the face of failures or obstacles. The desire to succeed is a key feature of being an entrepreneur, as it is the driving force behind their desire to build and grow a business. A study conducted by Baum and Locke (2004) found that entrepreneurs who have a strong desire for success have a higher probability of starting a new business and achieving higher levels of success in their ventures.
Entrepreneurship is a combination of the aforementioned characteristics. Entrepreneurs may have many of these characteristics, as well as more, such as two or three characteristics. Therefore, each of these characteristics may not be in the same proportion in the personality of an entrepreneur. As can be understood from the definitions of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs are people taking risks, being resilient in the face of uncertainty, and having a desire to succeed. In this context, they have the self-confidence to overcome difficulties. The desire to succeed is a driving force for them. They will be aware of what is expected of them and show a willingness to succeed.
3. Factors Affecting Entrepreneurship
The factors affecting entrepreneurship consist of many components including personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. Personal factors include personality traits, motivation, skills, and knowledge. Social factors include the role of family, friends, and mentors in providing support and encouragement for entrepreneurs. Economic factors include access to finance, market conditions, and government policies. Environmental factors include the cultural and legal environment which can affect the convenience of starting and running a business. With the interaction of these factors, business models emerge.
Personal factors can affect an individual’s decision to start a business, as well as their ability to successfully run and grow a business. A study conducted by Rauch and Frese (2007) found that entrepreneurs who have a high level of success requirement, self sufficiency, and locus of control tend to be more successful in their ventures. Motivation is another important personal factor that can affect entrepreneurship. A study conducted by Baum and Locke (2004) revealed that entrepreneurs who have a strong desire for success tend to be more successful in their ventures. Skill and knowledge are also important personal factors that can affect entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs need to have the essential knowledge and skills, such as financial management, marketing, and management skills, to start and run a business. A study conducted by Davidsson and Honig (2003) revealed that entrepreneurs who gain knowledge and skills through experience tend to be more successful in their ventures.
Social factors include the cultural and social norms and values that shape the perception of entrepreneurship. Family and social networks can provide significant support and resources for entrepreneurs such as emotional support, advice, and access to financial and human capital. A study conducted by Davidsson and Honig (2003) found that entrepreneurs who have a supportive network of family and friends are more likely to be successful in their ventures. Cultural and social norms and values can shape the perception of entrepreneurship and influence an individual’s decision to start a business. A study conducted by Chua, Chrisman, and Sharma (1999) found that countries with a more individualistic culture tend to have higher levels of entrepreneurship. In addition, social expectations and the way entrepreneurship is perceived in society can affect the ease of starting and running a business. A study conducted by the World Bank (2018) has found that countries with a more positive perception of entrepreneurship tend to have higher levels of entrepreneurship.
Economic factors can affect an individual’s decision to start a business, as well as the success of a business after it has been built. Access to finance is a crucial economic factor that can affect entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs need access to financial resources to start and grow their businesses. A study conducted by Baum and Locke (2004) found that entrepreneurs who have access to finance tend to be more successful in their ventures. The market conditions such as market size and growth of the market can also affect entrepreneurship. While a growing market can provide entrepreneurs with more opportunities to build and grow their businesses, a shrinking market can make things even more difficult for them. Government policies such as regulations, taxes, and subsidies can also affect entrepreneurship. A study conducted by the World Bank (2018) revealed that countries with a more favorable business environment, characterized by less bureaucracy, less corruption, and greater protection of property rights, tend to have higher levels of entrepreneurship.
4. Entrepreneurship Education and Acquisition of Entrepreneurial Skills
Skills can be acquired and developed through the experiences gained in life. While some skills may come more naturally to certain individuals, for others they can be learned together with mentors by gaining experience through education and training. Within this scope, having education plays an important role in shaping the attitudes, behaviors, and skills of individuals. (Wilson, 2008).
Entrepreneurship, in addition to innate skills, also brings with it skills that arise due to external factors exposed in the entrepreneurial process. These factors consist of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. Education is addressed as an activity for the development of the physical and mental abilities of individuals. Entrepreneurship education is an educational approach carried out to develop the attitudes, skills, and abilities of individuals related to entrepreneurship.
With entrepreneurship education, individuals can learn the skills necessary for financial management, marketing, business planning, and legal and regulatory issues to develop and establish their own businesses, and skills that people have and have not yet noticed will also be able to emerge thanks to education. Through education, people will discover themselves and find out whether they are inclined to entrepreneurship or not. Entrepreneurship education is the biggest support for individuals on this journey. The goal of the training is to identify the shortcomings that the person getting the education sees in himself and to support him in developing and discovering those aspects. Therefore, entrepreneurship training helps them to develop and discover the skills necessary for entrepreneurship, such as critical thinking, risk-taking, and resilience to uncertainties.
Many studies found the positive effects of entrepreneurship education on the development of entrepreneurial skills. A study conducted by the World Bank (2014) revealed that the students participating in entrepreneurship education programs experience a greater sense of self-confidence and develop their entrepreneurial skills. According to a study conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), it has been found that the majority of entrepreneurs are not first-time entrepreneurs, but rather people who have started their own businesses after gaining experience in the workforce. For this reason, the most important factor in the development of entrepreneurial skills is the journey of gaining experience which education brings with it. In this respect, a study conducted by Krueger (2003) found that students who participate in an entrepreneurship education program are more likely to start a business compared to students who do not participate in the program. In general, these studies show that entrepreneurship education can play an important role in developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for successful entrepreneurship.
As a result, it has also been proven through studies that entrepreneurship education plays a vital role in the development of entrepreneurial skills. Research has found that students who participate in entrepreneurship education programs have better entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and attitudes than students who do not participate in such programs. Entrepreneurship education can provide students with a set of skills necessary to start and manage a successful business, including problem-solving and decision-making, business planning, financial management, marketing and sales, and networking and communication. Entrepreneurship education can also provide students with a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial process, which can help them identify opportunities and develop the skills they need to build and grow a successful business. In addition, it is crucial to note that entrepreneurship education is alone insufficient to develop entrepreneurship skills, and also requires practical experience, self-motivation, and creativity. In summary, entrepreneurship education can be an effective tool for developing the skills of people who do not have innate entrepreneurial skills, but it must be combined with other forms of learning and real-life experience to be fully effective. It is very crucial that educators and policymakers continue to invest in and develop entrepreneurship education programs to bring students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
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