If you’ve ever been curious about entrepreneurship or even wondered how to get started, this is the article for you! Izzy Rodriguez, one of our writers, has written an excellent summary of the key ingredients she needed and the steps she took to running her own business as an entrepreneur. We hope you enjoy the read!
To me, a year ago, becoming an entrepreneur sounded like something you would do later in life, with considerable investments and a lot of knowledge on how to run a business. Little did I know that, one year later, I would be running my own business during university – “winging it” and learning as I go. Despite the stereotypes, business, for example, does not require middle-aged men in suits with a company car to be working ‘9-5’ in an office, but creating a profit from a single ‘side hustle’ – that’s it.
Drive and passion
Drive and passion are the two ingredients, in my opinion, required to ensure a business is successful. In my case, I wanted to educate people, young women in particular, on good nutrition and how to lose body fat sustainably.
With the rise of social media, misinformation spreads like wildfire. This happens especially in diet culture, alongside trends recommending new supplements, “detoxes”, and fitness regimes almost every second. Having become a victim of such trends throughout my teens, I felt resentment towards diet culture, which heavily impacts people’s lives and health who don’t possess the knowledge to know what is true and what is not. I decided I wanted to make a positive change and start producing educational content to try and curb the hidden epidemic of eating disorders.
Firstly, I needed a credible qualification and to be educated on evidence-based nutrition. Fortunately, I still had a job during lockdown and was able to save up enough money to pay for an online course.
With the extra time that resulted from the pandemic, I completed an accredited level 4 diploma in nutrition and weight-loss management and became an online nutrition coach. Whilst completing this course, I built up a social media following by posting nutrition facts, recipes and workouts on Instagram. This is where I learnt how powerful social media really was – with its algorithms favouring misinformation and diet trends, gaining followers was a slow, but steady process.
Learning and adapting
Understanding what does and doesn’t work and why is crucial for any business. In my case, I had to learn how people liked information to be presented, what content was popular and what was not. Followers tended to love my recipes but not my workouts, so I stopped posting workouts. Controversial nutrition videos tended to be more popular than food pictures, so I stopped posting food pictures. The cycle is a never-ending process and the ability to adapt, accept failures and create solutions is not easy, but incredibly important for progress.
During this process, the biggest thing I’ve learned is not being afraid of asking for help or favours when you need it. Having contacts skilled in areas you are not will help you in building a business.
I was lucky enough to have a friend who designed my logo for free – so I gave him some nutrition advice and recipes in return. I also had a friend whose parents own a gym; I asked them if I could set up an online nutrition course for beginners in cooperation with them. They warmly welcomed the idea (still being developed) and also gave me some valuable business advice. If you ask nicely, most people are willing to help!
The great thing about this kind of online business is that the costs are low. I also learnt that I didn’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to monetize my business, but just a few who trusted me. Afterall, I can only balance university with a maximum of four clients at a time; no number of followers would change this.
I started to think about how I could make my knowledge and services accessible to more people without giving up more of my time and decided to set up an engaging online course where multiple people could learn about nutrition and ask questions simultaneously. By doing this, I could still dedicate the same number of hours a month, but reach more people and subsequently yield a larger profit. ‘Work smarter, not harder’.
The phrase “little and often” resonates with me. It’s very easy to dedicate a lot of time to your business in a rush of excitement, but to then burn out a few weeks later.
Try assigning yourself short but regular slots a week to focus on your business idea. With time, it will build up into something far more robust than you could have imagined originally. Additionally, remember you can work when it suits you best. If you work better in the evening, then do it as you no longer need to conform to the regular 9-5 system, allowing it to coincide with university or your other commitments.
If you have an idea that you’re passionate about and can dedicate some time towards it, this is your sign to do it. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be about making millions, but just generating an income from doing something you love. It might not be easy, but if it has the potential to improve people’s quality of life – including yours, then, in my opinion, it’s worth it.
Thank you for reading.
Written by Izzy Rodriguez
Edited by Jessica Griffith
Isabela (Izzy) Rodriguez is currently in her 3rd year at UWE Bristol studying Biomedical Science. She intends to study post-graduate medicine after her degree to eventually become a doctor.
Last year, she set up an online nutrition coaching business which has become very rewarding; she also loves the perks of being self-employed as it fits around university life very easily. Izzy hopes her story of setting up a business during the pandemic will inspire others to do so aswell as a result. She is a big believer in being ambitious and that you can do anything you put your mind to.
In her free time, she enjoys triathlon training and is part of the UWE athletics and cross-country club, and the cycling club which she finds to be a great stress reliever.
From the editor: Wow! It’s really refreshing to hear another person’s perspective on entrepreneurship. It’s also great to see how productive some people have been during lockdown and encouraging that you can still accomplish things, even during a global pandemic. We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we did!
We always welcome new contributions and look forward to new additions to our team, so please do get in touch if you’re interested. To reach us, please email ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter!
Until next time, keep well and safe.
Photo of ‘profit’: https://www.callcentrehelper.com/cost-to-profit-centre-126838.htm