Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: startup

How would I know if I am 'an entrepreneur'?

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📥  Entrepreneurship

So, for the last few days we have focused on articles about entrepreneurship. But I'm sensing there may still be some people reading this thinking 'but how would I know if I have the potential?'

Yes, we ran an article looking at the 'entrepreneurial process', showing it's actually a simple problem identification and solving process. But not everyone who loves solving problems would like being self-employed.

So, there are two questions I'd like to pose today.

  1. do you have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur?
  2. how do you know if self-employment is for you?

1. Do you have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur?

Strictly speaking, yes. An entrepreneur is officially defined as

"someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity".

However, companies really, really love people who have the characteristics of entrepreneurs i.e. the entrepreneurial people.

They are the people who will spot an opportunity and make it happen, who take a company in an unexpected direction, or who enable a company to steal a march on its competitors. And because they can't call these people entrepreneurs, they have invented a new word to describe these people: intrapreneurs.

"an employee within a large company who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable new product, service, business, etc., often instead of leaving to start their own company"

So, if you are always coming up with new ideas but want the security of an organisational structure and regular salary, then maybe you should be looking for a company that actively selects for intrapreneurial spirit.

2. How do you know if self-employment is for you?

This is a tricky one. After all, you may never have worked for anyone before so how do you know if you would rather work for yourself? But hints might include the fact that you hate being tied down into a particular way of thinking. What you want is the reedom to pursue your ideas in your way at your own pace. If that sounds like you, then maybe think about the idea of freelancing, consulting independently or setting up your own business.

Maybe you are always inventing things that fill a need no-one else has seen. Yes, you could take that ability to a design company. But if your ability to spot and fill holes in the market is also coupled with a strong independent streak then maybe you should find out a little more about setting up on your own. Enterprise Bath are there exactly for students like you! And that goes for whether what you make is an app, a gadget, a plate, a bag, soup - they have supported all these ventures and more.

If this has made you think even a little bit that entrepreneurship might be for you, why not pop along to a Banter meeting and chat to some like-minded people?

 

Entrepreneurship - a wide open career path

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📥  Entrepreneurship

It's very easy, when hearing about something like Global Entrepreneurship Week, to think 'well that's not for me - I don't have any business ideas'. So when I read a blog post in Nature last week which had as its theme the fact that

'entrepreneurship is not an endeavour reserved for the talented, it's a set of skills anyone can learn'

I was immediately interested.

I have to admit, I am also one of those people who sees enterprise as something 'other' - almost a mysterious concept because I have never had 'the' idea or felt that burning desire to work for myself.

So I have reposted the blog article in its entirety below, hoping that any of you who are feeling similarly in awe of entrepreneurs but sure it's not for you, will have a look as common myths about entrepreneurship are busted. Additionally, a three-step process for pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity are given.

 

Entrepreneurship: A wide open career path
24 Oct 2014 | 06:00 GMT | Posted by Julie Gould | Category: #NJCE14, Career paths

Entrepreneurship is not an endeavour reserved for the talented, it’s a set of skills anyone can learn.
Contributor Annalise Smith

Professor Simon Mosey

Credit: Annalise Smith
Entrepreneurship is often viewed as an endeavor reserved only for the very select few who were born with a rare combination of talents. Not so, said Simon Mosey, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Nottingham University Business School, speaking at the Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers Workshop at the Naturejobs Career Expo in London on September 19. “Entrepreneurship is a set of skills that anyone can learn,” he declared.

Mosey similarly punctured what he said were two other myths about entrepreneurship: that entrepreneurs can see into the future and that entrepreneurs do it all themselves. These myths suggest that stars such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have skills that others lack. Mosey called these notions “nonsense.” Success in entrepreneurship is “not an individual pursuit” he explained. Behind Job’s and Zuckerberg’s success “is a large team of clever individuals working together in a group to realize the common vision.”

Mosey outlined a series of steps for pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Stage I: Problem Definition

It all starts with a problem, but identifying a problem that needs solving. Mosey outlined how to approach this in three steps: 1) Describe the problem and recognize the opportunities. 2) Explore the dynamics of the problem and 3) Understand the root causes of the problem. This will provide a solid foundation to then move on to using science or technology to do something about it.

As an example Mosey addressed the problem of low recycling rates in the UK. Exploring the dynamics and root causes resulted in a unique approach to tackling the issue by figuring out how to produce less waste rather than more recycling efforts. This now recasts the problem in such a way that makes it easier to see ways in which “science can do quite a lot about it” Mosey explained.

Stage II: Idea Discovery

The true test is to come up with ideas to solve the problem that has been identified. He stressed the need for quantity of ideas over quality, especially at first. Even “bad” ideas, he said, can “lead somewhere that’s new, exciting and different.” Mosey cited Linus Pauling’s famous statement that the best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas, and to throw away the bad ones. Taking time to consider and reflect upon these ideas is a critical next step. Following the example of low recycling rates in the UK, Mosey presented some modest solutions such as reduced packaging as well as more radical ones, such as sending waste into space. The main point, Mosey stressed, was “not to be afraid of coming up with bad ideas.” He did, however, say that it was important to make even the “wilder” ideas more scientific. Using scientific knowledge to find solutions to problems “could lead to numerous possibilities, one of which could result in a career opportunity,” he said.

Stage III: Solution Determination

The next step is to sort and sift and organize ideas into categories. The primary objective is to narrow all the ideas down to one, choose the best solution and begin the process of implementation — which Mosey described as the “hard work of building a system that works.” At this stage, one should also consider the business mechanisms by which the new ideas can generate income. Is it smarter to create a start-up company or to sell the idea to someone who will now have his or her name associated with it? Along these lines, the selected solution to the recycling problem in the UK was to create a more economical alternative to waste oil disposal by designing a filter to convert the waste oil into biodiesel.

Finding solutions to a problem is not the only entrepreneurial path, though. In fact, Mosey said, for life scientists the process often goes the other way around: taking technologies you may have floating around in your lab and using them to address social or medical problems. Mosey provided an example from a business plan competition, which used an existing technology called IdentiScentTM; described as “ a quick and dirty DNA type test”; like an electronic nose that creates unique signatures for every organic compound or individual. Ideas for commercializing the IdentiScentTM technology included solving medical problems such as organ matching or social problems such as bomb detection in public places.

Early career scientists face many challenges as they seek to capitalize on their many years of study. “The best way to keep your options open,” Mosley said, “is to develop your entrepreneurial skills.

 

So, all of you who thought entrepreneurship was for other people - why not give it a go? Get in touch with Enterprise Bath to see what they have on offer.

 

Entrepreneurship – the alternative career path!

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📥  Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship

 

The Global Entrepreneurship Week starts from Monday 17th – 23rd November 2014, this week we wanted to focus on a career path less traveled – Entrepreneurship!  Whether you want to start your own business, work as a freelancer or on consultancy basis - having an entrepreneurial mind-set will allow you to work flexibly in a rapidly changing economy.  If you decide to pursue a career within an organisation, having a 'can-do' attitude, a creative and questioning mind, and a willingness to take risks will allow you to manage and progress your career.

So what are your options? If you want to get a job but are not excited by large corporates, you may want to consider Entrepreneurial Internships or working for a start-up. Sites such as Enternships  and WorkInStartUps advertise jobs in a wide range of industry sectors. This blog post from the guardian makes a pretty convincing case about why you should work for a start-up. If however you are set on becoming the next Richard Branson, then make the most of the opportunities available to you at University. Join relevant clubs and societies such as Enactus or Banter. You may also want to consider participating in business competitions, games and hackathons. Don’t limit yourself to just opportunities on campus, use social media sites such as Twitter to learn about opportunities nationally.

Entrepreneur First, is a government backed initiative which is the first of its kind offering a structured career path into entrepreneurship straight after graduation. You will benefit from training, mentoring and office space to get your start-up idea off the ground.

Entrepreneurship offers a wealth of opportunities but it is a tricky career path. Before you dive in, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the discipline to be your own boss?
  • What is your tolerance for risk?
  • Are you comfortable working alone?
  • Can you test the waters without jumping straight in?
  • Is your business idea sound?
  • What are the gaps in your skills?

Below are some useful local organisations who may be able to offer further support:

  • Social Enterprise Works: expert guidance, support and training to help your social enterprise grow, develop and succeed.
  • Science City Bristol: aims to help make the Bristol and Bath region a great place to start and grow science and technology businesses.
  • Hubbub - A website to gain funding for your projects, ideas and events.
  • NESTA - National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts: Provides funding for early stage companies.

 

#FF (Follow Friday): Entrepreneurs!

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📥  Entrepreneurship

If you are a Twitter user, you will be familiar with Follow Friday (or #FF) – every Friday people tweet their recommendations about who to follow. I have been following Global Entrepreneurship Week which kicks off from 17-23 November 2014.  So in honour of that I have taken entrepreneurship as my first #FF theme.

If you are considering starting your own business or have a general interest in entrepreneurship then I recommend NACUE who support student led enterprise activities on campus. The Prospects website has a wealth of information including a handy start-up check-list. Of course the Global Entrepreneurship Week website is packed with information, links to events and some superb resources to get you started.

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You may also want to use LinkedIn to network with individuals you know, but I’d definitely recommend joining groups like On Startups, the British Library Entrepreneur Network and Real Business. These groups provide opportunities for you to ask questions, join topical discussions, and build your network.

Back to #FF, there is a wealth of information on Twitter, you may want to consider following these accounts if you are interested in entrepreneurship.

Celebrities
Duncan Bannatyne
Peter Jones
Richard Branson

Individuals
Jonathan Moules – Financial Times, enterprise correspondent
Bill Morrow – Founder of Angels Den
Dan Martin – BusinessZone editor

Organisations
Business Link 
Flying Start
School for Startups 
Global Entrepreneurship Week UK

Remember to check out our blog next week, we will be posting about starting your own business, whether entrepreneurship is a possible career path for you, sources of funding and much more!