10 Competencies of Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Melissa De León, founder of Panama Gourmet, a company that produces gluten-free foods, just won the 2012 UNCTAD Empretec Women in Business Award. A focus on 10 key entrepreneurial competencies was key to her success.

The award honors businesswomen from developing countries who have founded successful firms, created jobs, and become role models in their communities. The finalists for this year’s award were women from Brazil, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Jordan, Nigeria, Panama, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Many factors including, of course, the women themselves, led these entrepreneurs to success. But, all had in common an affiliation with Empretec. Empretec is a United Nations Conference on Training and Development (UNCTAD) training and motivational program that encourages entrepreneurship in developing countries and emerging economies.

The Empretec program inspires and trains entrepreneurs to start, grow and develop their businesses. Participants of their programs are aspiring entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, small businesses, young people, and employees of large public or private firms. The Empretec program is implemented through national centers that are currently operating in 32 countries. Since its formation in 1988, Empretec has successfully trained more than 200,000 people to start or expand businesses, creating thousands of jobs in the process. What’s behind Empertec’s success strategies?

Empretec’s formula for success is built around 10 Personal Entrepreneurial Competencies. They list and define them as:

  1. Opportunity-seeking and initiative
    Entrepreneurs seek opportunities and take the initiative to transform them into business situations.
  2. Persistence
    When most people tend to abandon an activity, successful entrepreneurs stick with it.
  3. Fulfilling of commitments
    Entrepreneurs keep their promises, no matter how great the personal sacrifice.
  4. Demand for quality and efficiency
    Entrepreneurs try to do something better, faster, or cheaper.
  5. Calculated risk-taking
    Taking calculated risks is one of the primary concepts in entrepreneurship.
  6. Goal-setting
    This is the most important competency because none of the rest will function without it. Entrepreneurs set goals and objectives that are meaningful and challenging.
  7. Information-seeking
    Entrepreneurs gather information about their clients, suppliers, technology, and opportunities.
  8. Systematic planning and monitoring
    Systematic behavior means acting in a logical way. Planning is deciding what to do. Monitoring means checking.
  9. Persuasion and networking
    Entrepreneurs influence other people to follow them or do something for them.
  10. Independence and self-confidence
    Entrepreneurs have a quiet self-assurance in their capability or potential to do something.

These personal competencies are gender neutral and could describe successful entrepreneurs throughout the world. With regard to core competencies, a successful entrepreneur:

  1. Capitalizes and leverages her strengths.
  2. Understand which competencies she needs to develop.
  3. Commits to a process, person, or program that will help her build the complete range of competencies she needs for success.

What personal competency and process has led to your success? Share yours today.

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