Happy International Entrepreneurial Week!
Twitter’s been abuzz with the idea of Entrepreneur week this week, and we wanted to encourage those who are dreaming of having their own business someday. Your university years are a time to learn about your field, get guidance from academic experts and make mistakes! A time you can freely experiment, dream big, and grow ideas without fear.
Many people think their university years are meant to be totally focused on their studies. While it is obviously important to stay on top of your university work, grabbing hold of opportunities that could give you the tools for your own business is important, too; especially when these opportunities are freely provided.
Not to mention, universities like Bangor University encourage students to think big and explore starting their own business, and have many resources to help you along the way. Below are ways you can build an entrepreneurial mindset during your university years!
Think big, even if the initial opportunity seems small
Every year, our students have to pitch ideas for products or services to a panel of judges in industries such as adventure tourism, dementia care and research, the hospitality industry, and local manufacturers of climbing equipment as a few examples.
In 2018, student teams presented ideas to companies RibRide and Zip World about a new RIB (rigid inflatable boat) that had just been launched, in collaboration between the companies.
One student, Conor Walton, had the odds stacked against him when none of his other teammates were able to present at the finale! Instead of scaling down his idea, or just not presenting at all, Conor chose instead to go big or go home: by presenting his engaging idea for a floating theme park on a cruise ship!
His idea was that a retired cruise ship could be docked in the Menai Strait and could become a fun centre with zip lines, a casino, and a partially underwater aquarium/viewing platform!
Though at the time the idea might have seemed grandiose, it led to Conor being given a prize of £250 and a chance to pitch his idea to cruise line Royal Caribbean. Had he decided to throw in the towel early, or chosen to go smaller on his idea, he never would’ve gotten the chance to pitch his idea to a company such as Royal Carribean.
The idea of starting a new company can be daunting for anyone, let alone someone who is still in university, but don’t let that discourage you from thinking bigger. You never know where it might lead and what opportunities could come from it!
Don’t be afraid to ask for resources
You’d be surprised at the kind of resources that are available to students who wish to start their own business. At Bangor University, there is B-Enterprising which is a part of Bangor’s Employability service, it supports people who want to develop a business idea or start freelancing.
They can help link you up with potential funding, help develop your enterprise skills with one to one business mentoring, and provide advice & support if you’re ready to take the plunge into freelancing.
Because of the kind of expertise staff have in different departments at Bangor, gaining guidance through the university is a unique and invaluable resource that isn’t just about learning for students, it’s also about experimentation, collaboration, and creativity that combines innovation with research.
Even if you’re not ready for your idea to materialize immediately, B-Enterprising is a great way to even just chat about fears you might have for starting your own business, or to find answers to questions that might seem daunting at first!
Collaborate with students from other disciplines
One of the great things about university is that it can bring you together with so many other like minded people! The downside to this is that it’s not always similar to the professional world, where people from different disciplines and with different expertise must collaborate to grow businesses and create new ideas regularly.
Here at Enterprise by Design, we’re always going to advocate trying our 8-week experience as a great way of collaborating with students across other disciplines. The challenge starts in January each year and pairs teams of students from across Business, Arts, Science and Engineering to respond to a real brief from local companies.
Every Thursday throughout the process, students are given tasks to complete with the expert help of lecturers that lead to developing their own ideas. These ideas can propel your group to win a portion of the £5,000 cash pot.
By working with a local company over the challenge, EBD students get to learn about the businesses and gain knowledge from academic experts they otherwise wouldn’t receive in the normal run of things.
Some students have even gone on to create their own businesses after their EBD experience! Collaborating with students of other disciplines exposes you to many different aspects of business development, making you more aware of not just your own expertise, but a multitude of fields you could be liasoning with in the future when developing a startup.
Seek out webinars online, there are loads out there!
The covid-19 crisis means that we are all inside, sitting at our computers… a lot. Now, more than ever, people are connecting online to share resources, opportunities, and experience when it comes to startups. While more entrepreneurial events are online these days, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the networking that in-person events were famous for.
Check out webinars put on by M-Sparc, who have an Enterprise Hub at their campus on Anglesey. Some of their webinars have covered aspects of marketing, how to start digital businesses, and financial planning.
Webinars like this are a great way to learn about current tools and trends in the business world, how other people are developing their own startups, and the hurdles they face — and more importantly, how they surpassed those challenges.
Even if you’re not ready to begin your own business now, it’s a great way for you to connect with other people who have entrepreneurial mindsets, both so you can learn from them and so they can encourage you.
Being entrepreneurial opens doors, opportunities, and overall can give you something in life to focus on that is productive and brings you a sense of accomplishment.
If you have already been thinking like an entrepreneur, or can think of other ways to be entrepreneurial during your degree, comment below because we’d love to hear from you!