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close this bookTraining Programme for Women Entrepreneurs in the Food-processing Industry - Volume I (UNIDO, 1985, 356 p.)
close this folderCourse Sessions
close this folder1. Introduction and Entrepreneurial Awareness
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction to the Course
View the documentThe Enterprise Experience: Generating the Business Idea and identifying the People to do it
View the documentWomen And Business
View the documentThe Enterprise Experience: Report Back
View the documentThe Enterprise Experience: Proposal Preparation
View the documentEntrepreneurial Characteristics
View the documentEntrepreneurial Role Model

Entrepreneurial Characteristics


To enable participants to identify the personal qualities that are at least as important to run a business successfully as business or technical skills are.


90 to 120 minutes

Session Guide:

1. Ask participants to suggest why they have come to this course; what have they come to learn?

Elicit suggestions such as: "record keeping skills", "learn how to market my products", "learn how to apply for a loan", and so on.

Ask participants whether business success can be guaranteed so long as the business woman has all these types of skills. Is there some other ability that is required?

Ask participants whether education, which is largely concerned with acquiring skills, is essential for success in running a business; are people with Ph. B. degrees or masters degrees usually the ones who make the most money by running their own businesses?

Participants should appreciate that higher education is not a guarantee of business success, and highly educated people do not usually go into business for themselves, either because they do not have to or because they do not want to; they become university professors, managers of large departments or possibly Ministers, which are probably less important occupations for economic development than people who create wealth and employment by running their own businesses.

2. Ask for examples of very successful people, even millionaires, who are illiterate; there are many such people and they can obviously not keep records or write loan applications. What have they got, that many very well trained or educated people apparently have not got, that enables them to be so successful?

3. Clearly there are other qualities that are at least as important, and possibly more important, than business or technical skills. The objective of this session is to identify these qualities; during the rest of the course participants will be focussing attention on them, so that they can enhance their own abilities as well as learning the skills which are required.

Some people say that these qualities can be developed, or at least improved, by training, while others say that people are born with them, or that they are acquired during childhood; it is certainly true, however, that one can gain by finding out whether or not one has these characteristics, so that one can try to develop those one does not have, or at least recognize one's own strengths and weaknesses.

4. Ask participants individually to think of one particular very successful business owner whom they know personally, and then to write down ONE adjective that best describes the sort of person she or he is. Allow up to five minutes for this, and then ask for suggestions and list them on the board; do not write down different words that mean more or less the same thing, but put "ticks" beside the word that is already written to show how many participants suggested it.

5. Divide the group into pairs; ask them to find out each other's age and then tell the younger member of each pair briefly to describe what she actually did on some occasions when she achieved something important to her in her business; the older should listen carefully, and then write down ONE adjective or phrase that best describe the way she behaved; then the older member of each pair should similarly describe something she did in her business, and the younger should write down whatever adjective or phrase she thinks best describes it. Ask participants to read out what they have written; add the words or phrases to the list already on the board, again avoiding duplication but showing how many times each word or general concept is suggested.

6. Discuss the resulting list; eliminate words that appear not to relate to business behaviour as such, and stress that entrepreneurs are not necessarily pleasant people, or honest people, or people who are very good at working in large organisations; avoid the impression that an entrepreneur is a perfect woman; she is a particular type of person, who is good at starring and running her own business, but may be quite bad at many other things which are equally necessary for society.

7. Write up or display a previously prepared list of the seventeen common types of entrepreneurial behaviour, as listed in the check list for the entrepreneurial role model session which follows, and encourage discussion as to whether this list is or is not basically similar to the one the class itself has developed, by describing each other's behaviour and that of entrepreneurs they know.

If the list developed in the session includes characteristics which are significantly different from those in the list of seventeen, and all participants are agreed that they are important, amend the list for the subsequent sessions; if there are some of the seventeen which participants themselves have not come up with earlier in the session, discuss whether they are relevant or not; if the group feel strongly that these characteristics are not relevant, in their situation, exclude them since participants must feel that the list they use in subsequent sessions is theirs.

8. If time allows, distribute a copy of the amended list and ask participants to rate themselves, honestly, as to whether or not they behave in that way; alternatively, warn them that they will have to rate themselves for the forthcoming counselling periods.

If possible, this session should be followed immediately by a session with an entrepreneurial role model, as described in the following session guide.


There are certain personal qualities that are at least as important and possibly more important than business or technical skills. Research indicates that a successful entrepreneur behaves in the following way:

· she is persistent
· she grasps an opportunity
· she makes a problem into an opportunity
· she takes a moderate and informed risk
· she makes an effort to obtain information
· she tries to make something more efficient
· she strives to improve quality
· she persuades others to do what she wants
· she uses networks to influence someone
· she tries her best to keep a promise
· she sets goals for herself
· she plans ahead, and monitors the results
· she rebounds from a failure
· she invests for tomorrow rather than spending today
· she is un-concerned about what others think of her
· she is enthusiastic
· she is self-confident

Some people say these qualities can be developed, or at least improved, by training, while others say that people are born with them, or that they are acquired during early childhood; it is certainly true, however, that you can gain by finding out whether or not you have these characteristics, so that you can try to develop those you do not have, or at least recognise your own strengths and weaknesses.