April 23, 2014, by Kelly Cookson
Can you learn entrepreneurship?
Guest blog by MSc Entrepreneurship student, Daniel Wallis. This blog follows on from Liz Radice’s blog posted on 14th April 2014.
When asked about my degree and I respond with “Entrepreneurship”, people are often confused and say “Is that a thing? Can you even learn it? Surely you’re born with it?” or “Oh, so like Richard Branson then? You want to be like Richard Branson?” Well, that’s no-brainer. Everyone wants to be like Richard Branson. He’s rich, slightly eccentric, adored, at the age of 63 has a full head of hair and is rich. Yes, I said rich twice. I do entrepreneurship and this is what I want to be.
The point here is that when these questions are asked and lectures are given, these are the people that you study: the Richard Bransons, Alan Sugars, Anita Roddicks and whoever else. Rarely do you get to hear the story from an entrepreneur who is just like you: A person who works hard to achieve results, build something that is their own, something they’re passionate about and something that other people appreciate. Oh, and to make money, of course. Again, I do entrepreneurship and an entrepreneur is what I want to be.
University of Nottingham graduate Liz Radice is founder and director of Backstage Balkans ltd and Balkans Undiscovered and was guest speaker in our Launching New Ventures class. Liz told the story of her entrepreneurial journey including how she came across the idea for her business, how she pitched the idea accidentally to potential clients before really knowing what she was doing and then how she hastily set everything up!
Liz had experience of traveling the Balkan countries and, in a non-business way, would hook people up from all over to go to festivals in these countries. Informally discussing this with a festival organiser, which unbeknown to Liz they assumed was a business pitch, they liked the idea and the business was effectively set up within that week. Throughout the story, Liz described how they only just broke even and that having a great set of friends willing to work for free really helped although to their benefit they also got to go to festivals in Croatia and Serbia and eat for free.
Liz talked about how she decided to also offer a holiday service for these countries as she recognised that the market was underserved and saw how the very little profit from one arm of the business could be used as a means to get repeat customers for the holiday side of it which is where the profit is. She also talked about what she learnt on the way and how this was managed.
These talks are great because it’s someone that is just like you and is also an entrepreneur. You get to see that there’s entrepreneurship in most people and that you can also learn along the way. Liz provided a good story about something she’s passionate about and emphasised that not all entrepreneurs make money initially. These entrepreneurs are the other side of the story, the ones that are like us. These are the cases that tell us that you can put your work into your own things and you are still an entrepreneur. You might even accidentally agree to set up a business.