Guide for Migrant Entrepreneurs

MODULE 1: Soft Skills

NOTE: This course consists of a 6 module curriculum. More detailed information for ALL 6 MODULES beyond what is found in this Online Course is available to you in the “Guide for Migrant Entrepreneurs.” The Guide also includes up-to-date Country Specific Information (on the EU countries of Denmark, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Spain). This Country Specific Information includes National Legislation for entrepreneurs, Current Statistics, and Organizations relevant for migrant and refugee entrepreneurs based in each country.

1.1 Introduction

In this chapter, you will find information about the difference between soft skills and hard skills. Then the skillset needed for an entrepreneurial mind-set is presented and each skill discussed.

1.2 Soft skills vs. hard skills

Soft skills help to enhance the ability of individuals to efficiently work in a business environment and ensure effective use of domain knowledge in actual practice. To improve the employability of job-seekers and people who want to be self-employed, soft skills have a crucial role to play. However, the importance of soft skills has always been side-lined by the need for other core technical skills.

To understand soft skills, we first need to differentiate between hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills can be defined as a set of skills which have been developed from academic and technical knowledge. According to Martin Carole (2008 [1]), hard skills are “along the lines of what might appear on your resume” and soft skills can be defined as a “cluster of personality traits, social graces, personal habits, friendliness and optimism.”

1.3 Soft skills for self-employment and entrepreneurship

Research studies have defined the most important soft management skills for meeting success in an entrepreneurial undertaking. Along with self-awareness, the skills for self-employment and entrepreneurship include communication, creativity(including problem solving), and managementand leadershipskills (which includes motivation, negotiating, goal setting, planning and organizing, team building) [2].

1.4 Self-awareness

The psychological study of self-awareness can be first traced back to 1972 when Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund’s developed the “theory of self-awareness.”

They proposed that, “when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behaviour to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.” In essence, they consider self-awareness as a major mechanism of self-control.

1.5 Communication

The skill of communication plays a critical role in the execution of all other skills. If you cannot communicate, the other skill sets will fall flat.

Communication is a way to create interactions between people. Having good communication skills will also help an entrepreneur at the time of project explanation, elevator pitches, presentation, training, as well as many other areas where a person has face-to-face conversations. An effective communicator can build her career more easily.

1.6 Creativity and problem solving

These are skills necessary to grow and develop the business. An entrepreneur must invest time and effort to continually hone these skills. By concentrating on problem solving and creative thinking, the individual will be able to recognize (and create) opportunities to sustain and grow the project they undertake. When we think of creativity, we tend to think of people exploring their artistic side through music, art and writing. When we think about creativity as a job skill, we tend only to consider jobs in the creative industries such as art & design and promotion. Yet we all use creativity every day, and it is a vitally important tool in our arsenal of soft skills.

1.7 Management and leadership skills

Basic knowledge of management is needed at the initial stage and later during the development stage. Without leadership, many entrepreneurs self-sabotage through extremely poor decision making and weak leadership skills [3].Usually in the beginning, management is conducted by the sole founder or owner who must perform all the actions. As the business develops, more management skills are necessary. This is often when frustration sets in.

The owner is dealing with a totally new type of problem – management of others. Skills in planning, organizing, leading, controlling are needed along with an overview of finance, marketing, and attaining a competitive edge. Not everyone can be comfortable managing people. Numerous skills are needed to effectively run a business.

The entrepreneur will need to plan and organize, set goals, make decisions, and market the business. One successful entrepreneur made mention that “team dynamics is the hardest and most personal challenge of all. Getting that wrong really hurts. Fundamentally, it’s all about leadership.”[4]

Leadership is about organizing people and motivating them to work toward a common goal. The entrepreneur needs to give up some control and put efforts into building upon other peoples’ skills. To gain the competitive edge, managerial and interpersonal skills and knowledge are at the centre.

1.8 Management and leadership

Management and leadership skills usually includes: motivation, negotiating, goal setting, planning and organizing, and team building.

– Motivational skills [5] in the workplace can be defined as actions or strategies that will elicit a desired behaviour or response by a stakeholder. Motivational tactics will vary given the style of the motivator, their relationship with the target of the motivation, and the personality of the individual to be motivated.

Steps in the Motivational Process

  1. Assessing the preferences and personality characteristics of the individual or group to be motivated.
  2. Defining motivational strategies appropriate for that target.
  3. Conveying expectations for performance to or achieving desired outcomes from the object of the motivation.
  4. Communicating benefits, rewards, or sanctions if expectations are (or are not) met.
  5. Providing feedback regarding progress or lack of progress towards desired outcomes.
  6. Addressing problems or obstacles that are limiting success.
  7. Providing rewards for desired outcomes.
  8. Issuing warnings prior to enacting sanctions.
  9. Publicly recognizing others who have responded in the desired manner.


[1] Martin Carole (2008), “How to stand out from a Crowd of Candidates”, Retrieved in January 2009 from uniqueness.asp
[2] Holmberg-Wright, Kristin, and Tracy Hribar. “Soft Skills-The Missing Piece for Entrepreneurs to Grow a Business.” American Journal of Management 16.1 (2016): 11.
[3]  Wagner, E. T. (2013, September 12). Five Reasons 8 Out of 10 Businesses Fail. Retrieved from Forbes:
[4] Murphy, B. (2010). The Intelligent Entrepreneur. New York: MacMillian Publishing.



Download the file for the exercises of the module at this link