Unleashing Entrepreneurial Enterprise

Girl Working

I’m a student entrepreneur. I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, but I am looking forward to starting my own business after graduation. However, I have to admit that I am a little bit intimidated by the prospect of it. I do not come from a background like some of my classmates, and though I have the ambition and the drive, I do not know anyone in my family or close circles who has started a business. Where should I look for inspiration and mentorship as I pursue this path?

It can be especially difficult for somebody who has not been around many private businesses to gain a foothold as an entrepreneur. Fortunately, the world is full of people who, with a little bit of entrepreneurial wit and grit, managed to turn their passions into profitable enterprises. Furthermore, many university-level opportunities offer you the chance to learn the tricks of the trade, outside of and beyond your major.

If you are looking for inspiration, you should look into businesses in fields that interest you and investigate their histories. Say, for example, you are interested in e-commerce. Premier Glow, an e-commerce business that sells novelty light-up toys (glow necklaces, glow bracelets, even glow swords) began in 2001 as a campus business by two college students selling glow sticks. Their insight was combining novelty sales — huge at corporate parties and (of course) university events — with e-commerce best practices to cut out the middlemen. With low overhead, they leveraged their connections and knowledge to expand from glow sticks to glow nearly everything, and even managed to earn two patents in the process. This represents a logical progression from selling a product to developing new products and capturing the valuable intellectual property associated with that field. If you need an inspiration takeaway, it’s this: Business growth does not come easily or quickly, and as much as our culture loves to tout the white-hot startup, candles (or, as the case may be, glow sticks) that burn twice as bright last half as long. Every overnight success is 20 years in the making. To find success, you need willingness and temerity, but you also need the skills to identify opportunities for growth and applications for your ideas. Where, then, would one find these skills?

If you need mentorship, you should definitely consider talking to your professors. But most universities and colleges, as large as they are, have opportunities outside of the traditional departmental structure. Many colleges and universities have a career development office. These offices usually offer services such as career coaching and leadership coaching, mock interviews, and resume preparation. Studies, like these featured in Inside Higher Ed, have shown that students who take part in career development opportunities in college are more likely to find a career that aligns with their values. Career development offices also provide online services, such as Handshake, that can help connect you with employers. Not only that, but participating in these sites will give you a window into internship opportunities that may help with future networking if you want to be an entrepreneur.

Finally, several many colleges and universities nowadays also have innovation centers whose goal is to help students build startup businesses around good ideas. An innovation center is a site of interdisciplinary learning, where you can learn the expertise necessary to begin a startup. These centers can help students like you develop an idea into an actionable business plan. One of the most important business skills you can have is the ability to apply what you know to real-world problems. Visiting your university’s career development office and innovation center can help you learn that skill years before your peers.

Content Provided by Scholarship Media

UTA Radio on Facebook

Twitter Feed

UTA News