Breaking the Stereotype of an Entrepreneur

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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!

Introduction

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.

Knowledge

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.

Asking favours 

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!

Profit


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’. 

Time

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.

Final thoughts

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

Izzy Rodriguez

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.

References:

Photo of ‘profit’: https://www.callcentrehelper.com/cost-to-profit-centre-126838.htm

Photo of with ‘clock’: https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/flexible-working-hours-work-life-balance-focus-time-management_11412207.htm

What Does Entrepreneurship Mean to You?

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In her first article on this blog platform, Isobel Gordon has brilliantly summarised the Department of Applied Sciences (DAS) February Monthly Employability Seminar, featuring one of our very own writers, Joseph Myatt. If you’re intrigued about entrepreneurship and how this relates to you, keep on reading!

Every Sector & Entrepreneurship

The February DAS Monthly Employability Seminar, ‘An Introduction to Enterprise’, was hosted by Callum Usher-Dodd, an enterprise consultant and lecturer at UWE and Joseph Myatt, a second-year biomedical science student and young entrepreneur.

You don’t need to be working in business or enterprise in order to be an entrepreneur. Callum defines entrepreneurship as anything that involves getting an idea, business or project off the ground, and he made it clear that any field of work or any university degree can incorporate a certain level of entrepreneurial activity. He also explained that the skills you gain from enterprise can be beneficial to any future job, in any work type; making the point that employers are always looking for people who can think and behave like an entrepreneur, even if it’s not the main part of the job.

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is trying to ensure that enterprise can be incorporated into all areas of the University and be available to students from all the various degree courses. This is being done in the hope that by 2030, it will evolve into a world-leading enterprise institution. As a science student, I would have never considered myself able to be an entrepreneur, however, Callum makes it clear that no matter who you are, what you’re doing or where you want to go, the skills you can gain from enterprise will always be beneficial to you.

Photo by Clark Tibbs from unsplash.

What do you see?

A simple activity was carried out within the meeting, whereby the listeners were asked to draw what they saw when they thought of an entrepreneur. When asked what they had drawn, many students stated their picture included things like lots of money, businesses suits and IT equipment. Most of the students also admitted that they had drawn a man.

I too fell into this trap and straightaway envisioned the typical billionaire businessmen such as Elon Musk (Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors) and Mark Zuckerberg (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Facebook). However, this rich businessman image is just what the media has portrayed the typical entrepreneur to look like; this doesn’t mean this is what you have to be in order to be one.

One stereotypical image of entrepreneurs that needs to change, is that they are normally associated with men! History has shown us that women are just as capable of entrepreneurial activity, it’s just less well-known and talked about. Marie Curie, for example, managed to integrate the world of science and business into her work with radioactivity. More recently, Nina Tandon, another female scientist, is one of the Co- Founders of EpiBone, a biomedical engineering company that creates bone tissue from patients stem cells for bone grafts. Both of these women are entrepreneurs, yet when we think of the word ‘enterprise’, we don’t associate it with them.

Photo by KOBU Agency from unsplash.

A new perspective?

Entrepreneurship isn’t all about making money and building big businesses. What it’s really about is adding value to other people’s lives and making a difference! One UWE student that has demonstrated this and shown that it’s possible to be a scientist, as well as an entrepreneur, is Joseph Myatt. Whilst studying a biomedical degree, he has founded a site called WRENt, an online site with an aim to make the whole house renting process for students just that little bit simpler.

Joseph admits that he wouldn’t have been able to have achieve the founding of WRENt, if it hadn’t been for the support that UWE offers to young entrepreneurs. In 2020, Joseph was one of the few winners of the UWE Summer Enterprise Scholarship, which offered students who would win, £1,000 to bring their business or project idea to life. Despite the experience of this scholarship being virtual for Joseph, due to the pandemic, he still valued the whole experience and enjoyed being part of a community of like-minded people who he described at ‘doers’. Joseph commented that one the most valuable aspects of the programme was the mentorship that you gain from the staff at the university, as he believes ‘in the early stages, mentorship is more valuable than the money!”.

This scholarship is an amazing opportunity and is open to all students on any course and the project or idea that you pitch, can be related to anything you are passionate about. The skills that you obtain from the summer internship, will set you in good stead for any graduate job or future career you may embark on. If you feel that this is something that you would want to be involved in, or just want to find out some more information, check it out on the UWE webpage.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes from unsplash.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Isobel Gordon

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Isobel Gordon

My name is Izzy Gordon and I am a final year Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science Student at UWE Bristol. I am currently in the process of finishing my final year research project, studying the accumulation and distribution of microplastic pollution along the South coast of the UK. Having grown up in this part of the UK, I have spent most of my life either in or by the water, and have developed a real passion for marine conservation and ocean science as a result.

This September, I hope to continue my education here at UWE, by studying a Masters in Science Communication. From this masters degree, I hope to gain the skills and knowledge to be able to educate and increase awareness surrounding the problems the marine environment currently faces. I also hope to inspire people to want to make changes that will benefit our ocean. In the future, I would love to be able to influence more young people to consider marine conservation as a possible career, and to help people appreciate just how important this environment is.

From the editor: Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope it has widened your perspective on the influence of entrepreneurship in every sector. We also hope it has sparked some inspiration in you, whether to become a full-time entrepreneur or bring entrepreneurship into your own chosen career pathway.

As always, we are keen to have more writers/ contributions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoy the rest of the week and month!

Take care and stay safe.

Think Different, Be Different! Develop an Enterprise Mindset

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Mr Iheanyi Ibe, Enterprise Adviser at UWE Bristol and Coordinator of the Student Ventures Hub recently delivered a workshop on Enterprise as part of the Department of Applied Sciences Monthly Employability programme. Iheanyi gained a first degree in Pharmaceutical Science (BSc) and proceeded to a Masters in Business Administration. He worked in the Biopharma sector for several years before taking a different route into  entrepreneurship  developing expertise in this area and now supports entrepreneurial programmes across different institutions the UK.

So why enterprise and should it matter to you as a scientist?

Typically, students do not understand the term enterprise and automatically assume it is starting or owning a business. According to Iheanyi, it is more than that. He says, “Think of enterprise like a stem cell. ” Stem cells are special human cells with the ability to develop into many different cell types. Enterprise is just like that. Skills that give you the ability to do anything you want to.

It has been defined by the QAA (2012) as “applying creative ideas and innovations to provide practical situations. Therefore, it combines creativity, idea development and problem solving with communication and action.”

For students in the sciences, aspiring scientists, academics, or even those already working in the field, enterprise is very important and should be part of your thinking and your mindset. It is really about how to identify problems and proposing solutions to addressing them.

“There is nothing new about enterprise. In fact, as a species, it can be argued that we exist today because we are enterprising.”

So broadly speaking, having an idea you can capitalise on and can meet people’s needs OR having a business, are both descriptions of enterprise.

Do you need special skills to be an entrepreneur?

The answer is NO!

Iheanyi described a discussion he has with his son about something his son wanted him to do. The nature of the conversation and the outcomes from it indicated that right from an early age, we get to apply different skills that are entrepreneurial in nature. These skills include recognising what you want or need, negotiating and communication.

“The inherent skills you use in everyday life such as negotiating with parents, negotiating with your children (for some of you) and compromising with friends are the skills we tend to take for granted, but use them in our everyday life.”

Does it matter if I do not want to be an Entrepreneur?

It does! Employers are looking for candidates that can demonstrate these skills. “20% of employers reported ‘alarming weakness in skills around team working’ and a similar proportion identified weaknesses in problem solving skills among graduates.”

In a article published in the Guardian, employers expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of some graduates, with a third of companies unhappy with graduates’ attitude to work, citing lack of resilience, self-management skills, cultural awareness, and customer awareness article. In addition, the CEO of Be Wiser Insurance group, added “You would expect that university education would teach some basic business etiquette, and certainly communication skills.”

These are the skills you are expected to demonstrate to employers regardless of your subject area and field of study and these are examples of entrepreneurial skills.

What are these Entrepreneurial skills?

  • Commercial awareness
  • Creative and innovating thinking
  • Prioritisation and time management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication, negotiation and persuasive skills

“These are no different from the skills you gain on your programme through presentations, writing essays, doing assignments, final year projects, team sports and society activities etc. do not underestimate the amount of skills you have gained through each year of your study, many of you are ready to succeed in the commercial world to embark on enterprising projects and initiatives.” – Iheanyi

Do you have the mindset of an Entrepreneur?

The speaker gave an example of people who go to a pub and are comfortable speaking to others, communicating to different folk, however struggle to speak in other settings or unable to do a presentation. This, he described is a problem with “mindset”. For you to succeed in your career, in the scientific world or as entrepreneur, you need to be willing to challenge your mindset, move out of your comfort zone otherwise you would be similar to graduates described by the CEO of Be Wiser Insurance group (“not prepared for the real world of work and often requiring ego-massaging”).

Testing your Creativity – Group Task

The students were put into groups of two to identify how many uses they could find for a paperclip. This was a 2-minute challenge and from the groups (6 in total), the ideas included: (a) a sculpture (b) a back scratcher (c) for cleaning hard-to-reach areas (d) bracelet (e) ear piercer etc.

Challenge to you – How many different uses for the paper clip did you find?

If you are able to think of a use for the paperclip, you have just demonstrated enterprise. Thus, enterprise is having the idea, mindset and action to create solutions to problems. Something you do regularly!

Skills audit

Can you identify what skills you demonstrate or utilise in the following tasks?

  • Writing an assignment
  • Writing a project proposal
  • Delivering a poster presentation
  • Group work
  • Examinations etc.

 Group Exercise

The students were given a task to perform based on this scenario.

 “You are meant on be on a trip to Singapore, what do you need to do before you go, while you are there and when you return?”


We would encourage you to try this task in your own time as those who attended the workshop found it useful to think through the scenario and to identify challenges as well as create new opportunities.

What will you do?

  • Before – this is where you plan
  • During – this is where you learn
  • After – this is where a lot of the reflection is, knowledge is gained and shared

Final notes from the speaker

  • Your personal life is not so different from the commercial world. What matters is your mindset
  • Improving your enterprise skills and your ability to identify and develop opportunities will benefit you whether you pursue a career in academia or decide to move into business or develop your own company. 
  • It is relatively easier to develop ‘Commercial Awareness’ from a technical and scientific background than doing things the other way round.
  • As a student, you demonstrate enterprise in your day-to-day activities, during the degree, general social situations and work experience. What is most important is learning to recognise these skills and articulate them!

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with others. Also, if you have an article or topic you would like to share with us, do contact us at ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk 

You can learn more about the speaker by visiting Iheanyi’s LinkedIn page here .

For information about opportunities to develop your own business, apply for enterprise grants or for advice and mentoring contact the UWE Bristol enterprise team at enterprise@uwe.ac.uk 

Continue reading “Think Different, Be Different! Develop an Enterprise Mindset”