"Standard business training programs aim to boost the incomes of the millions of self-employed business owners in developing countries by teaching basic financial and marketing practices, yet the impacts of such programs are mixed. We tested whether a psychology-based personal initiative training approach, which teaches a proactive mindset and focuses on entrepreneurial behaviors, could have more success. A randomized controlled trial in Togo assigned microenterprise owners to a control group (n = 500), a leading business training program (n = 500), or a personal initiative training program (n = 500). Four follow-up surveys tracked outcomes for firms over 2 years and showed that personal initiative training increased firm profits by 30%, compared with a statistically insignificant 11% for traditional training. The training is cost-effective, paying for itself within 1 year."
"Recent field experiments demonstrate that advice, mentorship, and feedback from randomly assigned peers improve entrepreneurial performance. These results raise a natural question: what is preventing entrepreneurs and managers from forming these peer connections themselves? We argue that entrepreneurs may be under-networked because they lack the necessary social skills- the ability to communicate effectively and interact collaboratively with new acquaintances-that allow them to match efficiently with knowledgeable peers. We use a field experiment in the context of a business training program to test if a short social skills training module improves who the participants choose to learn from within the program. We find that entrepreneurs who were exposed to the social skills training formed 50% more relationships with peers. These relationships exhibited more matching based on managerial skill and were more ethnically diverse. Finally, the training also substantially increased entrepreneurs' business performance. Our findings suggest that social skills help entrepreneurs build relationships that create value for both themselves and their peers."