Entrepreneurship encompasses a huge range of activities, from starting up a company from scratch to initiating social and environmental changes.
Last year, David Cameron said entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth for Britain. Okay, you might not be a big fan of Mr Cameron, but he certainly has a point. Fundamentally, entrepreneurship is the source of innovation. Successful entrepreneurs create new products and services that offer significant improvement to users. This improves quality of life. Just imagine what the world was like before computers, for example. In addition, entrepreneurship leads to better utilization of finite resources, as they are put into the most productive uses. Finally, successful entrepreneurs also create jobs. Given the current economic climate, that certainly is a bonus.
Traditionally, entrepreneurship in universities has never been given much coverage, bar the exception of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s mostly been the realm of brave businesspeople such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. However, entrepreneurship in universities should be given more attention. Universities are the places where some of the smartest people belong and cleverest ideas flow. Hundreds of breakthroughs are made in university research labs throughout the world everyday. Capturing and commercializing those inventions can do the world a whole lot of good. Furthermore, students are a creative bunch. We, not constrained by the worries of life and bureaucracy of corporations, are capable of thinking outside the box. As a result, we can come up with innovative ideas that other people simply don’t think of.
Entrepreneurship not only benefits society, it can also benefit you. And I am not simply talking about the financial rewards, rather, I am talking about something much more intrinsic. Entrepreneurship is exciting – it encourages you to be creative and stretches your mind to the extreme. Also, it can help you pick up some highly-valued skills, including communication, organisation and decision-making. Ultimately, it looks great on your CV; it proves to employers that you are highly-motivated, committed and adventurous, even if it doesn’t work out.
But entrepreneurship is not easy. It’s hard work. Coding a website late into the night or doing hours of research is just part of the job. It is very unpredictable too: you face many unanticipated, and sometimes, very demoralising problems.
However, if those things don’t put you off and entrepreneurship sounds like one big exciting challenge to you, then you should get involved. There are many ways to do this – join an entrepreneur society such as the Oxford Entrepreneurs, for example. But if you really can’t wait, then go talk to some friends. Find out what’s bothering them and try to solve their problem. Then, ask yourself, can I solve that problem for other people too? If the answer is yes, go out and do it.
-Lee Qian, undergraduate and founder of business, WhatsonCampus.