Entrepreneurial Skills

Entrepreneurial Skills

We have often heard employers complaining that persons joining the labour market with any level of education, lack a number of soft skills, one of which is thinking skills. The level of education of the individual does not seem to have any effect on one’s ability to think critically. I have covered this topic some weeks ago.

Persons who eventually take on a more senior role seem to lack another skill to which CEO’s tend to attach importance. This is entrepreneurial skills. One may feel that entrepreneurial skills are for entrepreneurs and not for employed managers, even those at a senior level. An entrepreneur is someone who, through his or her skills and passion, creates a business and is willing to take full accountability for its success or failure.

The role of an employed leader is not seen to be this, as he or she may need to ask for approval to make certain changes in the company’s processes, product design or just about any innovation one needs to implement. However the pace of change in the external environment is making it necessary for employed leaders to utilize their skill, passion and innovation to manage or create something useful for someone else’s business… with entrepreneurial zest.

Moreover one needs to make a clear distinction between a speculator and an entrepreneur. Speculators often consider themselves entrepreneurs, when they are not. The main distinction between them is that a speculator thinks short-term while an entrepreneur thinks long term. The entrepreneur is capable of giving due importance to the common good, while a speculator could not care less about any negative impact on society and other individuals from one’s economic activity.

In Malta we have had attempts to inculcate entrepreneurship in young people. The most notable example, which has indeed been very successful and beneficial, is Young Enterprise, which seeks to help young persons to “learn skills by doing”.

Although this programme, which was set up some 33 years ago, has reached out to more than 10,000 students, it is still not enough. This is not a deficiency of the programme; it is rather an issue of a lack of interest by young people. They still do not recognise fully the importance of entrepreneurial skills, especially since creativity and innovation are not subjects for which one sits for an examination.

Our education system may be very good at churning out administrators. These are persons who are unhappy to take risks, are not creative at all, approach problems with a narrow vision, try to solve problems by the book, like a secure and comfortable work environment, and excel at having everything organised. However it is not yet churning out entrepreneurs.

One may ask what makes an entrepreneur, even if one is employed, since the entrepreneur is not a speculator and much less an administrator? I tend to describe an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial manager as someone who has the expertise in the area, which expertise may have been obtained through experience and not necessarily through academic qualifications.

In addition the person is someone who is passionate about what they are doing, and that passion arises from reasons that go beyond money. The entrepreneur also has vision and can recognise opportunities that are still not visible on the horizon. The expertise and the vision most often led to the development of products and services which are unique. Lastly, the entrepreneur understands and appreciates quality and excellence. Unfortunately, quoting Steve Jobs, “some people are not used to an environment where excellence is expected.

In Malta we all recognise that we need to build new sectors in our economy. We simply cannot hope that the economic activities which we have today will continue to yield the results which they have yielded in the past years. We also know that to develop new sectors take years. The economic activities of which we are so proud today did not happen overnight and have their roots dating back years, also decades.

The development of new economic sectors requires Maltese persons to have entrepreneurial skills, and we certainly do not need speculators who are after the quick buck or administrators.


Lawrence Zammit, Director