A MODEL FOR SELF-EMPLOYMENT TRAINING IN EUROPE
Pedro Alonso García, Juan A. Moriano León and Francisco
J. Palací Descals
Different factors have an effect on the self-employment development
in the advanced economies. On the one hand, the continuing public
deficit reduction policies make the number of new job positions
in the public sector decrease considerably. Likewise, the companies
emphasize on decentralizing the labour and outsourcing in favour
of self-employment. Along with all these, the impact of new technologies
on information also provokes a significant growth of self-employment.
Some authors, when studying the changes in the labour world that
are taking place now, believe that we are heading increasingly for
a more self-employed and interrelated job and types of organization
more connected to the person, considered as an essential part of
the big company (Ontiveros, 2001).
All this explains that in the last few years self-employment has
grown much more than the rest of the workforce. Nevertheless, in
contrast to the United States, where more than 10% of the workforce
is self-employed, the situation in the European Union does not experience
the same level of development. Therefore, it is important to develop
a culture that will favour the entrepreneurial values and a training
program that will help succeeding in the process of setting up new
- Explain the reasons for carrying out this programme
- Know the characteristics of the entrepreneur programme
- Present new professional horizons in the field of entrepreneurs
2. LUCES PROJECT WITHIN THE EUROPEAN
The following describes the main characteristics of the European
educational policy and the adult training initiative. Within those
initiatives we found the project “LUCES: Cognitive Abilities”
which purpose is to identify the efforts of different European countries
in the entrepreneurial training environment.
2.1. Education policy in Europe
Following the conclusions of Gorri Goñi (2003), the European
policy in the field of education seems to be immersed in a given
legal and socio-political framework and with several representative
characteristics, which clearly talk about a clear future vocation.
(Delgado, B., 1994; Foessa, 1994).
The European Educational system has developed under the influence
of the following three factors:
- Demographic changes.
- Unemployment that affects mainly the young and produces a lack
of educational and professional motivation.
- The new ways, expectations and difficulties derived from the
The school, individuals and society have to accept the change that
brings us closer to a united Europe:
- We have to be aware that the society changes
and people have to modify the way they act and work. Therefore,
education has to change also and we must not separate but exchange
- The changes need time and therefore it is necessary to have
a period for personal adaptation.
- The incorporation of the new technologies
makes real time communication easier and allows to create working
parties among people who are thousands kilometres away from each
- The development is a necessary and inevitable process. The continuing
education is one of mechanisms that helps us get used
The framework of the new advances represented by the new unique
currency, the exchange of knowledge and experiences between socials
agents in Europe does not have to be a privilege, but a common action
of a continued interrelation (M.E.C., 1997).
2.2. Transnational projects
The National European Agency through Socrates program, in the framework
of Grundtvig 2, finances international projects between Learning
Associations dedicated to adult training in different European countries.
In general, Grundtvig 2 programmes favour the first contact among
partners from different countries. The Learning Associations can
have different goals, for example: conferences organization, expositions
or visits to exchange experiences, trainings or methodologies. Therefore,
the mobility has a very important role in these projects.
The international projects are a reality and a change of mentality
and methodology. Grundtvig programmes finance the following
- Improve the quality of Adult Education.
- Help to increase the learning opportunities throughout life.
- Promote innovation and exchange of educational experiences.
The professors’ training as an essential element in order
to improve the quality of the educative system shows the close connexion
between professor’s training and the social demands expressed
by means of educative systems.
Among the different training systems, Sparks and Loucks-Horsley
(1990) propose their investigative model in order to train professors
and make them aware of reality. Using this model as a reference
and through the call of the Socrates programme, specifically Grundtvig-2,
different adult educational centres from three European countries
have developed a project called “LUCES: Cognitive Abilities”
to train people who are willing to create a new business.
Chart 1: Main Axes to design the “LUCES: cognitive abilities”
2.3. Description of the project “LUCES: Cognitive Abilities”
Everything that surrounds the labour world is always moving. In
our urban occidental current societies, people have serious problems
to find a job for their whole life, but we can see a new workers
generation, who in order to get out unemployment, to look for independence
or personal development decide to create their own company, although
they find an hostile environment, with little financial resources
and often with no social or institutional support. These people
who we are going to call entrepreneurs are those who have decided
that they are the masters of their own destiny and they assume the
The small companies created by the entrepreneurs are arising in
alternative models because of the current labour market saturation
in the occidental countries. Moreover, some changes are taking place
in the social environment, in the labour market and in the field
of training that enable women and men to introduce themselves at
the same time in the entrepreneurial market.
The European Commission for the labour market recommends, in the
White Book of Growth, Competitiveness and Employment, the support
to small and medium-sized companies as an important means to advance
in a more competitive economy, to make better use of the internal
market and of the big market, and as a means to create jobs.
However, it is not easy to create a new company and entrepreneurial
people do not only need advice on legal, fiscal, economics or financial
aspects, but demand a specific training to develop the skills that
are needed to create and manage a new business successfully. Therefore,
adult education centres cannot overlook this social necessity and
LUCES project tries to join forces to develop a European training
program for entrepreneurial people.
LUCES is a three-year project that has the following goals:
- Study the main psychosocial characteristics of Entrepreneurship
in the European participating countries.
- Design a training program for self-employment.
- Implant and evaluate this training program in the European participating
In order to achieve these goals, a Learning Association was created
between the following adult educational centres:
- Nepravitelstwena Profesionalna Organizacia Izledovatelski Proecti
sa Evropeiska I Atlanticheska Integrazia (Bulgaria)
- Tempo-Training Centre (Czech Republic).
- Centro de Orientación Información y Empleo (COIE)
del Centro Asociado de la UNED en Calatayud. (Aragon-Spain).
- Sinergia, Formación y Desarrollo Humano (Castile-Leon-
- Organismo Autónomo para el Desarrollo Local (Extremadura-Spain).
- Centro de Personas Adultas de Villaverde (Madrid-Spain).
Thanks to this Learning Association, during the first year we researched
the psychosocial (values, attitudes, work goals and personality
characteristics) and socio-economic (social support, administrative
paperwork, difficulties...) characteristics of entrepreneurs in
Europe. During the second year, we designed an educational program
for self-employment in order to help people who decided to start
up a new company in Europe (specifically in Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic and Spain).
Next we describe the research done during the first year of the
project on the psychosocial aspects of the entrepreneurial behaviour
and its main results.
3. PSYCHOSOCIAL PROFILE OF THE
ENTREPRENEUR IN EUROPE: A RESEARCH REPORT
3.1. Theoretical framework
The multi-country study of entrepreneurship is an interesting research
field because the present socio-economic environment requires people
that can create new companies and can take advantage of the global
market opportunities. In fact, different studies have indicated
that small and medium-sized companies are the main agent of economic
growth in Europe and that new jobs will be created in this private
sector (OCDE, 1994; ECSB, 1997).
First, we need to define what is our idea of an entrepreneur; therefore,
we will follow the entrepreneur definition proposed by Varela (1998):
“The entrepreneur is a person who is able to perceive one
production or service opportunity and to make a free and independent
decision for obtaining and assigning the financial, technological
and Human Resources that are needed to start a new business. This
business creates an added value for the economy and generates work
for the entrepreneur and often for other people. In this process
of creative leadership, the entrepreneur invests money, spends time,
uses knowledge and takes part in the setting up and management of
the business, risking personal resources and prestige, but looking
for monetary and personal rewards." (p.63).
The finality of this investigation focused on the study of the
psychological and socio-economical characteristics that surround
the entrepreneur (values, attitudes, competences, administrative
proceedings, difficulties) to be able to design training programmes
that should be really effective to begin a new entrepreneurial adventure
within the European Union.
The studied variables are:
- Individualistic and collectivistic values.
We argue here that the personal values structure seems to have
a very important place in determining the behaviour; nevertheless,
we have not paid special attention to it in entrepreneurs’
studies. Following Schwartz (1990), we consider the personal values
for a person as a conception of the individual objectives as driving
principles for life. In a preliminary study (Moriano, Palací
and Trejo, 2001), it was noted that the entrepreneurs tend to
be mainly inspired by more individualistic values as, for example,
success, independence, hedonism or stimulation.
- Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy. Bandura, De
Noble, Jung and Ehrlich (1999) have elaborated a scale in order
to evaluate Entrepreneurial Self-efficacy (ESE) inspired on the
necessity of developing measures for self-efficacy in a specific
subject. This scale would evaluate the belief of a person on his
or her own abilities in order to carry out the required tasks
to create a new company.
- Risk-Taking Propensity. This variable shows
the degree to which people will take risks in order to obtain
greater profits. The entrepreneurs are daily exposed to uncertainty
(credits, customers, variations of the economic market, etc.),
that defy them to overcome their own weaknesses and this set of
factors powerfully encourages them to do so.
- Internal Locus of Control. Rotter (1966) states
that people vary in the degree they recognize a contingent relationship
between their own behaviours (actions) and the resulting reinforcements
(outcomes). Certain people (externals) generally believe that
forces that are external such as fate, chance, luck or other powers
control reinforcements. Others (internals) tend to believe that
the results of their behaviours are their responsibility. (Shapero,
1975; Gilad, 1982; Nelson, 1991; Bonnett and Furnham, 1991 and
Sánchez Almagro, 2003).
- Working Goals. This variable can be defined
as the outcomes individuals seek out of work and it may answer
the basic question of why individuals work (MOW, 1987). For some
individuals, work provides a means of self-expression, a way of
forming their identity and acquiring social status. For others,
work is an instrumental means and a basic existential need (Harpaz,
- Social Variables. The decision to start a
company is not only influenced by psychological characteristics,
but there are other social variables that have an important effect
as well. Family and friends may have an effect on an entrepreneur
in two ways: as models that inspire his or her behaviour or in
giving him or her social support. Also having entrepreneurial
experiences during one’s life could give an entrepreneur
the self-confidence to accept the challenge to create a new company.
However, there are difficulties or obstacles that an individual
perceives when he or she thinks about creating his or her own
business and that could discourage his or her intentions.
The research proceeding was the following:
- Sessions with groups of business people from the third sector
(trade and transport).
- Interviews with young entrepreneurs and professionals who guide
and advise entrepreneurs.
- Survey to assess differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs
in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Spain.
The questionnaire was given to a sample of 340 people, 139 men
(41,2%) and 198 women (58.8%), between 17 and 70 years old and mean
age of 40. The people surveyed were from three different countries:
Spain (28,2%), Bulgaria (38,9%) and the Czech Republic (32,9%).
With regard to the professional situation, most of the subjects
work (88,7%) as employees (39,2%) and self-employees (49,5%). Considering
the labour situation, the subjects have been classified like non-entrepreneurs
(57,8%) and entrepreneurs (42,2%).
The analysis of group sessions and interviews gave us qualitative
information, while the survey provided quantitative and specific
data that allowed us to identify the entrepreneurial profile in
the different countries participating in the project.
Next we will show a summary of the more significant results found
about psychosocial entrepreneurial profile:
- Individualistic and collectivistic values.
There is no common value structure between entrepreneurs from
the studied countries, but the entrepreneurs’ values are
influenced by cultural differences. However, we have found that
the specific value to be entrepreneur is significantly related
with individualistic types of values achievement and self-direction.
Therefore, we could confirm that being an entrepreneur is an individualistic
value related with being independent and achieving success.
- Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy. The entrepreneurs
have a significant higher score in this variable, specifically
in the following tasks: developing new products and market opportunities,
building an innovate environment and defining the business core
- Attitude toward risk taking. Only the Spanish
entrepreneurs show a higher score than the average in their attitude
toward risk taking.
- Internal Locus of Control. Entrepreneurs have
a more internal Locus of Control than the wage workers. Therefore,
entrepreneurs attribute their successes or failures to their own
- Working Goals. In Spain, the entrepreneurs
look for more expressive working goals like, for example, interesting
job, education, innovation and new challenges. In the Czech Republic,
the entrepreneurs look for expressive work goals like interesting
work and tasks variety, and an instrumental goal: a good salary.
In Bulgaria the entrepreneurs expect from self-employment only
one instrumental work goal: a good salary.
- Social aspects. The family in Spain and the
friends in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are the source of social
support for entrepreneurs. Moreover, having had experiences linked
with entrepreneurs during life influences significantly taking
the decision to start a new business.
- Difficulties. The main difficulties for Spanish
and Bulgarian entrepreneurs are those related with finding financing
for the new business. For Czech entrepreneurs the main problem
is getting professional advice about how to start a new company.
The analyses of these results show us the main psychological variables
(individualistic values, self-efficacy, internal locus of control
and attitude toward risk taking) that should be developed in the
training courses for entrepreneurial adult people. Besides, it explains
what surrounds the entrepreneurs (family or friends) and the difficulties
entrepreneurs have to face with (financing, professional advice,
In conclusion, the present research has allowed us to get an empiric
knowledge which united with adult educational theories allow us
to support the following training program for developing cognitive
abilities of entrepreneurs.
4. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCESS OF STARTING
For training to be efficient for self-employment, it is necessary
to understand that the entrepreneurial process is more than the
creation of a new company. Bygrave (1989) considers that the foundation
of an organisation is a discontinuous change and that the creation
is the singular event. Shaver and Scott (1991) agree with the first
affirmation of Bygrave; with regard to the second one, they consider
that there are several discontinuous events which are previous to
the creation that can be considered because of their results. For
example, the niche of the market, the design of a product, or the
identified need, to see opportunities, the risk above security or
the tenacity to carry out an innovative idea represent the essence
of this process.
Perls, in Ettiger, Gaspard and Pourtois (1997), points out the
psychological stages for the entrepreneur in starting a new business
Figure 2.- Stages to start a new business of Perls.
On the other hand, Carton, Hofer y Meeks (1998) propose another
model (chart 3) that presents clearly the main stages and characteristics
of entrepreneurship. In addition, these authors differentiate entrepreneurship
F igure 3. Entrepreneurship (Carton et al., 1998)
Chart 2. Steps for the creation of a venture by Perls
We describe in the following chart, the steps of entrepreneurship:
Chart 3. Entrepreneurship (Carton et al. 1998)
4.1. Developing the business idea
The entrepreneurial process starts when the person explores the
environment in search of opportunities, identifies the best opportunity
to follow, defines the business concept and evaluates the viability
of the business project. An entrepreneur must be motivated to improve
his or her personal situation in order to fulfil his or her ambition.
What process must he follow?
The following stages are suggested by Perls:
- Nonconformity. A positive or negative cause
initiates the motivation and energy needed for further stages.
- Impulse. During this stage, the entrepreneur
gets in touch with reliable people to share with them the business
idea. The business process takes quite a lot of time during which
the idea will crystallise; the entrepreneur will investigate the
market and competition. This phase is the most important part
of the process.
- Environmental reaction. The project starts
getting a shape. In this phase some detractors of the idea could
appear; there could also be administrative problems, financing
difficulties and unexpected obstacles.
Here, only the behaviour of the entrepreneur will help him
or her go on or give up the business idea.
Active collaboration. In this phase, the
entrepreneur develops his or her competences, looks for appropriate
partners and must convince them about the project viability.
4.2. Starting a new business
Thinking over the previous aspects: who has ever had a good idea
or found a new opportunity to create a new company?
In this phase, we develop the following stages proposed by Perls
- Growth. When the internal vision of the entrepreneur
and the external factors are balanced, and after having thought
over the business idea and analysed the advantages and disadvantages,
the entrepreneur will decide to start the new company.
- Success. During this stage, the entrepreneur
feels more secure and confident to follow his or her goals, with
the feeling this is the right moment to begin a new cycle. This
action is elementary because without the creation of a new company,
entrepreneurship would not been achieved.
4.3. Building the venture
To stabilize the company, the entrepreneur has to create an organisational
structure, get resources, create a costumer basis and develop a
competitive advantage. Without these elements, it would be very
difficult to maintain the organization and the entrepreneurship
could end because of a failure or bankrupt of the company.
4.4. Sustaining phase
The next phase is when entrepreneurship finishes. Gartner (1988)
proposes that entrepreneurship ends when the creation of the new
company o business is completed. Carton et al. (1998) follow this
argument and propose that entrepreneurship ends when the new company
The sustaining stage would be the end of entrepreneurship and the
beginning of management. The personal characteristics and abilities
needed to start a new venture do not have to be the same as the
personal characteristics and abilities needed for the management
and the profitable maintenance of a business. In fact, many great
entrepreneurs have left in other hands the management of their own
company while they dedicate themselves to what they best know: recognize
opportunities, innovate and create new companies.
The entrepreneurial training needs to focus on every stage of entrepreneurship
in order to transform the intention into the action of creating
a business. The professor must adjust the necessities and interests
of the students to the stages of entrepreneurship. Therefore, the
learning will be organized according to the specific stages and
with the specific support that is needed in every moment by the
professionals in different fields. The training must be located
and specialized according to specific periods of time while the
entrepreneur prepares, sets in motion and begins the development
of his or her company. We give specific assistance and support in
the worst moments or concrete professional assistance in the different
aspects of management.
5. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SELF-EMPLOYMENT
Next, we will describe the bases of the present program for specific
training of people who want to be self-employed and/or create their
5.1. Training pattern based on competences
According to Sánchez Palomina (1999), the “training
pattern based on competences” takes the subject and the environment
into account. This model encourages the autonomy, establishes relationships
between necessities and problems, and the training according to
the students diversity.
The characteristics of this model appear in the following table:
TRAINING PATTERN BASED ON COMPETENCES:
- It assumes that people are all different.
- The diversity refers to the capacity for learning: different
ways and rhythms of learning.
- It is based on the subject competences: it looks for personal
and social autonomy; in this case, the autonomy to start
up a new business.
- It considers the student constructor of his or her own
- It needs an appropriate curriculum for each student: open
| Chart 1 Educational pattern based on competences (Sánchez
The competences can be defined as the underlying personal characteristics
related with a high performance and can rely on motivation, personality,
attitudes and values.
Morcillo and Cubeiro (1998) consider that the entrepreneurial competence
flourishes when the person focuses on what he or she knows, can
do and wants to do. We cannot forget that many entrepreneurs are
the only members of their own companies; therefore, the competences
of the organization are the competences of the entrepreneur (chart
For that reason, a competence will be the result of three really
different elements, but at the same time dependant: will-vision,
resources and skills.
The first element, the will-vision, is what the entrepreneur would
like to be and the other his or her raison d’être. It
would be directly linked to the will expressed in each case in accordance
with the entrepreneurial vision.
The second element, the quality of resources, defines who he or
she is and what he or she can do. This group is composed of material
and immaterial assets, and it includes knowledge.
Figura 4 Entrepreneurial competence (Morcillo y Cubeiro, 1998).
The third element, capacities, define what he or she is able to
do and to be. Qualities, skills, abilities of the entrepreneur,
things that his or her competitors cannot almost copy; for example,
creativity, education, learning and quality. Attitude and Strategic
The competences can be classified into the following types:
- Personal competences: motivation, attitudes,
social abilities, values, etc.
- Cognitive competences: theoretical and practical
knowledge, and cognitive abilities.
- Specific competences: specific knowledge and
abilities in the sector where the entrepreneur is going to operate.
- General competences: basic competences needed
to manage any kind of business
Chart 4 Composition of an entrepreneurial competence (Morcillo
and Cubeiro, 1998)
The entrepreneurial training program for adults that we propose
mainly focuses on personal and cognitive competences.
5.2. Connecting theory and practice
Bygrave (1993) points out that there are two ways of ruining an
entrepreneurial training course. The first one, when the training
activities only consist in analysis of cases and practical applications
and when the second consists in teaching only theories. As mentioned
by Castillo (1999), the entrepreneurial training must consist of
the action based on theory.
According to Castillo (1999), the entrepreneur training must focus
on the action based on theory. The first courses of entrepreneurship
were based on several invitations of managers who had succeeded
so that they told their own story. These courses were for motivation
but they did not give the necessary tools for the participants to
become entrepreneurs. During the last decades, research on the company
creation and the theories on entrepreneurs have created models that
can be applied to the reality of every environment to develop entrepreneurship.
According to Fiet (2001), we could find the following pedagogical
problems associated with teaching theoretical concepts:
- The professors become boring when the teaching style is predictable.
- The professors become irrelevant when they use theories to answer
the questions of their students. When the theories cannot be applied
to entrepreneurial problems the class loses its relevance.
In addition the training taught mainly through theory seems inadequate
in the context of self-employment, because different studies (Choueke
and Armtrong 1992; Deakins and Freel, 1996; Williams, 1998) have
shown that the learning style of the entrepreneurs is experimental,
they learn through experiences and the learning process is the result
of critical events that oblige the entrepreneur taking strategic
and operational decisions.
On the other hand, without theories, the professor would not be
able to teach and the classes would be limited to the description
in a non-theoretic way of what the entrepreneurs actually do. Theory
gives the student conceptual basis and methodology to understand
how the business world works and what is the situation of the respective
The new tendencies have to relate theory with practice. Kuhn (1970)
showed that there is nothing as practical as a good theory, because
it helps us to make predictions about the consequences of our decisions.
For example, we could explain the success or the failure of a case
through the application of a particular theory. The class should
be a world of ideas where the students learn theories that teach
them what they could do successfully.
5.3. Case study method
The case study method is very effective for entrepreneurial training;
the entrepreneur learns how to diagnose and take decisions through
the study, analysis and argument of business situations where the
complex entrepreneurial reality is clear.
Harvard Business School was the first organization to
use this method in order to explain practical situations and promote
strategic thinking. The cases were analysed through different theories
According to García and Castellanos (1998), the case study
method in entrepreneurial training has the following pedagogical
- Students will learn how to find the key information, since
the information that surrounds an essential problem has not the
same importance. We try to succeed in teaching the student that
he or she has to separate the secondary information and furthermore
that he or she must not mix the relevant and the significant information.
- This method helps students understand the global structure of
the problems and apply this knowledge to real business situations.
- It is important not to simplify because it is necessary to
consider all the presented aspects. It is not recommendable to
preconceive receipts for its solution and to face the situations
as if they were unique, with their characteristics. Through problematic
situations, we pretend to develop a practical savoir-faire: to
diagnose and to decide.
- This method improves the analytical thinking, self-control
The content of the cases can be very diverse and embrace many different
situations and problems that the entrepreneur will have to face
when he or she starts and manages the new company. However, the
content must include the following characteristics (García
and Castellanos, 1998):
- Authenticity: the cases must not include hypothetic
or utopian situations, but try to define clearly the entrepreneurial
situation. This aspect helps the participant to adopt a position
with regard to situations, which in theory are not present.
- Variety: the cases shown to the entrepreneurs
must belong to different fields.
- Information range: the cases shown must be
described and explained with a lot of detail and must show the
With regard to its presentation, it is usually done with the reading
of a text, although any other material can be used (video, multimedia...).
According to Castillo (1991), in the case method, the teacher should
only guide the students to the main aspects of concepts and decisions
without judging if the interventions of the students are correct
or not. This case is then an instrument to stimulate the creative
discussion and the strategic thought through the ideas debate (Kasturi,
1996). This is the moment to reinforce some theoretical concept
and to provoke a deeper and internal reflection by means of a sentence.
The discussion experiences of the cases are beneficial for students
and professors, but they require a previous preparation from both
sides. This encourages the learning desire, a useful behaviour for
A variant may be the real cases, in which the protagonist goes
to the course and stays as a spectator during the problems discussion
and the possible solutions. Then, the whole audience debates with
the protagonist the remarks of the students and they evaluate if
the solutions given can be applied. It is necessary to tell the
protagonist that he or she may receive critics from the students
during the case.
In conclusion, the case study methodology as an educational tool
for self-employment can be an effective method because from a practical
perspective it encourages the analytical and critical thinking,
and the decision taking. In addition, this methodology permits the
application of the former theoretical concepts and combining theory
5.5. The professor’s role
In the self-employment training, the professor should change his
or her traditional role to adapt to the diverse necessities of the
entrepreneur. The students should not only acquire theoretical knowledge,
but also develop through the training process cognitive abilities
required in order to create and manage their own business. The professor
must direct the entrepreneurial energy of the student and the business
idea enthusiasm and use them to build their knowledge and entrepreneurial
According to Fiet (2001), the professor needs to have the students’
approval and their commitment in the learning process. The students
must leave the classroom talking about how great it is to be an
entrepreneur. Therefore, the role of the professor is to motivate
the students and identify the competences he or she must teach.
Using theories based on activities, the professor acts like a coach
and a mentor.
Therefore, mentoring can be a useful way for self-employment training
that can help entrepreneurs find a specific assistance to overcome
problems. For the professor, it means supporting the new entrepreneur
so that he or she can develop specific abilities through learning
and experimentation. As Dehter points out (2003), the role of the
mentor is to help the entrepreneur give a form to his or her future,
in the past actions of the mentor, to modify future actions as a
result of this game of joining, in the present time, the past and
the future. Consequently, the mentor helps the entrepreneur, through
his or her usual behaviour, to experience changes of attitudes.
Dehter (2003) classifies into two categories the mentoring functions
within the training for self-employment:
- Professional career functions: They reinforce
the abilities and necessary knowledge learning to create and manage
successfully a new business.
- Psychosocial functions: aspects of the relationship
between the mentor and the entrepreneur that reinforce the personal
competences, help identifying weaknesses and strengths of the
entrepreneur, and motivate professional development.
6. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL
The results of the investigation work done in Spain, Bulgaria
and the Czech Republic, and all the aspects that were analysed previously,
permit us to conclude this chapter with a series of recommendations
on how to prepare the training for self-employment.
6.1. Favouring realistic expectations
The entrepreneurs usually know very well who they are and what
they want. However, it is necessary to clarify their values, necessities,
motivations and attitudes. Before starting a business project, the
entrepreneur needs to know very well the personal cost that this
is going to take (working hours, spare time, money, etc.) and evaluate
his o her decision. Therefore, the training program must help clarifying
the necessities and aspirations of the entrepreneur.
We think that the imbalance between expectations and reality of
the entrepreneur at the beginning of his or her entrepreneurial
activity is one of the main reasons for the failure of many new
companies that do not go on after the first year. Many entrepreneurs
do not realize that the creation of a new company is not only a
change, and that it often means a change of lifestyle. The new company
needs all the resources of the entrepreneur (time, money, contacts,
abilities, etc.) in order to survive and grow successfully.
Therefore, the training program must encourage the realistic expectations
of the new entrepreneurs giving them information about negative
and positive aspects of self-employment.
In the first steps of the training process, it may be interesting
to encourage the self-selection of the students who want to become
entrepreneurs giving them realistic information about the process
of creating a company. It does not aim at discouraging the potential
entrepreneurs but helps them know, apart from the pleasant aspects
of self-employment, the difficulties they must face when setting
up a new company.
In brief, giving the entrepreneurs realistic expectations about
the creation of a company can help them face the future difficulties
and can even improve their training.
6.2. Development of the entrepreneurial self-efficiency
The training program must improve the personal growth through the
model called success spiral (Nicholson, 1987). The idea of the Success
Spiral refers to the fact that the controlled balances and imbalances
are the personal and professional development engine. The success
of the entrepreneur when he or she faces situations that require
balance or imbalance, produces the development of the personal competence
and at the same time, it favours the efficacy in future situations.
We propose the following recommendations to develop the entrepreneurial
self-efficacy during the training process.
- To select the necessary activities to acquire competences.
- To design first experiences to get positive feeling and success
- To supervise in order to adapt the support and evaluation to
the student competences.
Therefore, the entrepreneur must be given patterns where he or
she can observe the competences he or she needs to acquire and correct
guidelines of behaviour. In this way, the learning would be deeper
if the entrepreneurs understood and learnt easier the way they had
to face adequately difficult situations if they discussed and asked
about the pattern.
However, it is not enough to observe the model and then discuss
his or her behaviour: the entrepreneurs need to practice the observed
6.3. Improving the initiative and the achievement direction
During the creation and management of a new business, the entrepreneurs
have to face complicate tasks and opened problems for which there
is not only one correct solution. Besides, the entrepreneurs need
to confront continually new challenges and act with initiative in
order to solve problems and seek for competitive advantage.
We consider that the complexity task level and task control can
influence the development of the entrepreneurial initiative. If
there is control and complexity in the training situations, then
the entrepreneurs will think that in the future they will be able
to control easily the business situations. However, the management
of a new business means facing problems that are often complex and
the entrepreneur cannot control. That is the reason why during the
training program they have to get used to face problem that are
difficult to control and they need to use their initiative.
In the training program, the educational goals and tasks difficulty
have to be designed carefully to the abilities of the student. The
difficulty level must be gradually increased in order to give the
students challenges that they can pass.
Most of the entrepreneurs want to carry out successful challenges.
However, in other entrepreneurs, this orientation may be less developed;
it is then necessary that the training program gives to the future
entrepreneur challenges, and real success opportunities. That for,
the training objectives must always be realistic and of increasing
difficulty. If we establish objectives that do not adapt the students
level or in an environment where it is easy to fail, the entrepreneurs
may lose self-efficacy and discourage themselves.
To develop this success orientation, we must give the entrepreneurs
difficult objectives that require a variety of skills. For example,
an exercise in which the entrepreneur has to negotiate with the
bank, with a partner who does not collaborate, to listen to an unsatisfied
Finally, the learning level of the experiences will increase considerably
if the entrepreneurs receive specific feedback about the actions
and use them to think over their own experiences. The students who
do not receive an adequate feedback may develop some habits that
are really difficult to modify. Moreover, the students usually think
the lack of feedback means that their teachers have no interest.
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