Moving beyond general personal traits as predictors for success, a growing volume of research acknowledges that entrepreneurial core processes are enabled by specific competencies which can be learned, further refined and developed. The research objective of this article is to develop a framework for entrepreneurial competence in a well-defined small firm sector by elaborating and empirically validating an existing categorization of entrepreneurial competence. The dataset includes 348 small firm owner-managers who participated in an educational programme, established to pursue new business opportunities in the Dutch agri-food sector. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis revealed that three domains constitute the heart of entrepreneurial competence in this small firm context: ‘analysing’, ‘pursuing’ and ‘networking’. These three competence domains provide professionals active in sector development, small business support and (vocational) education with an empirically valid framework of clearly discernible elements of entrepreneurial competence. This framework also encompasses insights on education and learning.
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