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When nothing is certain, what competencies does an entrepreneur need to succeed?

24 April 2017

Here at irregular intervals we will publish short articles about doctoral theses that were written at HIIG. This time “Ermittlung eines personenspezifischen Kompetenzprofils für Internet-enabled Startups in den Bereichen Marketing und Vertrieb” by Martin Wrobel. 

Internet-enabled startups operate in a constantly changing environment that is characterised by great uncertainty. The failure rate is extremely high and only a few of them become successful companies in the long run. The scholarly discourse has identified two key factors for the successful development of a young company. The first is the skills and competencies of its founders. Several studies of technology-focused startups confirm that deficiencies in this area are one of the main reasons for failure. The second important factor relates to sales and marketing. Several studies (e.g. German Startup Monitor or European Startup Monitor) have shown that acquiring new customers is by far the biggest challenge for internet-enabled startups across all stages of growth. It is hence not unreasonable to posit that poor competencies and poor sales and marketing tactics will inevitably lead to a persistent lack of success or to total failure.

These are the issues Martin Wrobel’s dissertation addressed. He asked the following questions: what competencies in sales and marketing does a person need to build and grow an internet-enabled startup and reach profitability? How should these competencies be combined and expressed? The study’s empirical results are based on several group discussions and expert interviews. Eight competencies are considered most essential, in particular credibility, willingness to learn, perseverance, resilience, results orientation, communication skills, customer orientation and analytical capacity. Furthermore, there is another group of eleven different competencies that are also considered very important. Personal competencies as well as activity- and action-oriented competencies are most crucial, whereas professional competencies only play a minor role in the early stages of internet-enabled startups. Overall the message for potential and current entrepreneurs is to ask themselves whether they have the competencies it takes to succeed.

The dissertation was published in German with the title “Ermittlung eines personenspezifischen Kompetenzprofils für Internet-enabled Startups in den Bereichen Marketing und Vertrieb” in September 2016 and is accessible online via www.epubli.de.

Photo: CC Sascha Kohlmann

This post represents the view of the author and does not necessarily represent the view of the institute itself. For more information about the topics of these articles and associated research projects, please contact info@hiig.de.

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