A master degree is hard work, constant deadlines to keep, juggling written assignments and presentations whilst trying to have a social life outside university. Many people are looking back to their student days and longing back. But however much freedom you have as a student there is also a constant work load. Coming home at night doesn’t mean leaving your work behind, there are always something to read or a report to write. Not to speak of when you have group work. There are as much time and effort that goes into organising and dividing the work as actually producing the end results. You struggle with team members having different ambition and different understanding of the quality in what’s produced.
In a way student life is similar to the life of an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur you never really leave the office and the work behind; you take it home with you and you carry the feeling of that there is always more to be done. The only problem is that you just don’t always know what. You also struggle finding the right team members who can share the same goals, hopes and who can drive things forward when you’re lost.
Standing with one foot in the world of academia and one in the world as an aspiring entrepreneur is both scary and terribly exciting. It is a mix of safety and risk and it is a great way to learn how to fail and rise again. Facing my dissertation, which is a business feasibility study that could potentially lead into something ‘real’, is an opportunity to test everything we’ve been taught and there is awfully a lot I personally want to achieve before handing in the final result of my dissertation.
Since starting MSc Technology Entrepreneurship last year we’ve studied the theory of entrepreneurial finance, marketing, business development, management, product development and how to encourage our own and others creativity. We have constantly been told how difficult the entrepreneurial path is to walk down, about the journey an idea has to travel and the many obstacles to overcome on the way.
Last Thursday we had progress report presentations on our dissertations, and in preparation for these many of us suddenly realised how difficult there is to know how much progress that has been made. How many customers should you speak to until you know that you have the evidence needed to take the next step and how do you know what the next step is? How do you actually know that the segment your targeting is the right one? What kind of positioning should you take in the market you are going in to? How can you persuade your target market why your product is the best one? How can you compete against the giants already out there?
There are many questions that we still have to find the answers to and the way to our goals can sometimes feel very daunting. It doesn’t matter if we are students or entrepreneurs my classmates and I are all facing the same challenge and we have one great advantage. We have a powerful toolkit in our bag. We have for almost a year been equipped with the knowledge that every aspiring entrepreneur wish they had when they started. We have studied the cases where inspiring individuals have found success but we have also studied the cases where brave people have failed.
The world, where we are students, is small and safe whilst the world, where we are entrepreneurs is big and scary and together they make a perfect mix.
Some of us may succeed and some of us may fail. But wherever we end up we have come a little bit further on our journey of how to make the most of every opportunity given to us.