Human Capital and Entrepreneurship

A few weeks ago I was privileged to speak in Beirut at the Union of Arab Banks conference on ways of making progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I was one of a panel of speakers on the topic of: “Achieving SDGs through Entrepreneurship and Innovation”. One of the themes to be discussed was the development of human capital for entrepreneurs, and this was the theme I chose to develop.
Firstly, what do we mean by ‘human capital’? Not only does this encompass the technical skills and qualifications we have, human capital also covers the less observable or measurable skills and experiences: our emotional intelligence, creativity, and what we might label ‘high performance behaviours’.   These are learned along the way but also can be developed like other skills.
I often see successful entrepreneurs who come to the realisation that they need to access different skills and resources as their business grows and expands.   What started off as a passion, a dedication shared maybe with one or two others, is now something more complex with increased processes and policies to manage and demands from stakeholders who might be investors, partners, customers or staff. How does an entrepreneur prepare to thrive in this new growth stage of the company?
A good start is recognising the skills you will need to employ in this growth stage, these include:
  • listening (not as easy as it sounds)
  • establishing rapport
  • teamwork
  • coaching
  • building confidence in others
  • flexible thinking
  • decision making
The list actually goes on.  It should be pretty standard to offer startups training in these areas and if it isn’t, then the entrepreneur and the team can invite in expert help to assess the health of the organisation and provide support and coaching.
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