Cardiff Metropolitan University has launched a new enterprise initiative to encourage and support student entrepreneurship. Countdown to Launch was an intensive five day programme that ran this month designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to kick-start their businesses.Over the first four days, students gained insight in to the world of business from lecturers, guest speakers and successful business owners. Speaking on Wednesday the 12 was Indycube founder Mark Hooper.
We travelled to Cardiff Metropolitan University in Llandaf in the morning, ready to kick-start the day with an inspirational interactive session. Not being from a business background myself, I found Mark’s words thoroughly interesting and relevant to any new business venture – I was almost tempted to start up my own!
Mark began by speaking about his previous job as an accountant; a job he took in order to develop new skills which would be crucial to any future venture, in a move which may have made Indycube possible.
Students were inspired by his theory that it is much easier to start up a business in the current economy than it was a decade ago – with social media, coworking and viral marketing now in play, chances of success are broader than they ever have been. 'There's less chance of failure, and less to lose these days' Mark said.
The class split in to groups to create ‘business superheros,’ (in the form of stick men on white boards), labelling the respective skills, attributes and personality traits they believed were essential for a good business founder. Mark then encouraged students to identify their own ‘superhero’ skills; responses included ‘creativity,’ ‘emotional intelligence,’ ‘organisation’ and ‘adaptability.’ The ability to adapt quickly was recognised as a key component in ensuring the success of future businesses, since the world of technology is shifting rapidly, causing changes in funding, marketing and advertising.
The students at Cardiff Metropolitan University seemed weary of disclosing any business plans for fear of plagiarism, and preferred to remain confidential about their ideas. Mark, however, encouraged collaboration between students. Networking and union of skills is one of Indycube’s selling points, and a big advantage of coworking.
On to interview techniques next, where Mark taught candidates that it’s okay to have weaknesses. If a business leader can accept his or her weakness, he can then find someone to work with in order to develop and expand on his own skills. This is where networking comes in, but it’s important to remember that it’s not just about shaking hands and talking, but rather about really getting to know people.
Mark described his job as ‘going around drinking too much coffee and eating too much cake’ – obviously there is more to running a coworking company than socialising, but being your own boss does sound pretty appealing when put like that.
Students responded well to the activities. One woman said, ‘it’s inspired me, if you can see people in front of you that have made it, you can turn that on yourself.’
Last week, I learned that entrepreneurs and clinically insane patients often have many of the same personality traits; that passion is the key to driving forward a successful business, and that starting a company is for anyone who believes that they can do their job better than any boss. All-in-all, it was an educational morning.
The fifth day saw students pitch their ideas to a panel in an attempt to win a tailor made prize for their business. Mark was the chairman for the panel of judges, but more on that to come soon...