It is often thought that before starting a business the entrepreneur should have several years of work experience or at least a few years of higher education studies behind them. However, contrary to these beliefs, even a first year student at a university of applied sciences can possess the skills and passion needed to become an entrepreneur.
In order for the student to reach their entrepreneurial potential, the university should offer them encouragement, and tools to combine entrepreneurship to their studies. This requires innovative courses where ideas are sprouted and platforms where they can be advanced. Using these two, the university is able to give the best service to a student, such as in the following case.
The story of one student
One of the more innovative and lean courses for IT students at Haaga-Helia is called DigiStartUp. During the course, the students create a digital service, and are tasked to find their first, possibly even paying, clients.
One of the students had collaborated with a designer friend to increase the sales of her designs. The products had already attracted some buyers through Instagram but the student offered to create a web shop to increase the sales. This would serve as her course work as well. The web shop was carefully prepared, functional and with it, the sales increased. The student was given a cut of the sales as a fee for hosting the page and creating content.
In a way, the student was already working as an entrepreneur. However, when asked if she was thinking about entrepreneurship, she rejected the idea completely. The student explained that it was the designer friend who was the entrepreneur, and not her. She explained that the main reason why she was not interested in entrepreneurship was that she would not want to be in charge of the sales.
The student’s entrepreneurial mindset had already started developing through the work done on DigiStartUp course but it was obvious more work had to be done to support the growing entrepreneur in her.
Support and guidance from StartUp School
So how can we as a university help someone like her, who has skills and interest but does not want to be an entrepreneur? She had already established a customer base and one partner.
Taking part in Haaga-Helia StartUp School could help her find a team member who could be in charge of further sales or any other part of the business. In a business-oriented university of applied sciences such as Haaga-Helia, this would not be too difficult.
With a couple of entrepreneurial courses she would learn what skills are needed. She would also learn to look at her own networks and understand what skills she already had, and what skills she still needed to acquire. She would learn design thinking on an intensive prototyping course and choose several other skills to learn on separately organized workshops. A certified coach would be available for her and her whole team and he could help them with the business idea development. Experts would answer any legal, tax or funding related questions. She would learn to pitch the idea to possible stakeholders. In addition, all this could be done as part of her studies. At the very least, she could complete her work placement and thesis with the support of StartUp School.
This case is a quite a common example of how a completely capable student deserves the support and guidance to seize their potential as an entrepreneur. We at Haaga-Helia StartUp School offer services that might be just what a starting entrepreneur needs to gain their courage: help with the development of the business idea (be it new, or ongoing business), and how to combine studies and entrepreneurship.