By: Courtney Williams
Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to study entrepreneurship in hopes of learning more about what it takes to be a successful business owner. I knew that I wanted to take courses in entrepreneurship and participate in activities that will provide me with more insight on how to properly run a business. I learned about the T&M Seminar class during the second semester of my Freshman year when I was invited to apply for it. I was not sure if I should apply for the seminar because I was under the impression that it was not useful or beneficial for my major. However, as a business student, I did not know much about the technology/ engineering side of running a company, so I decided to apply for the seminar. This seminar was not a disappointment! Some of the key takeaways/learnings that were present from this seminar are the following:
1. The Importance of Networking
During your time in college, there are people who remind you to always be sure to network and connect with your peers, professors, etc. I am here to tell you that those people are absolutely correct! Connecting with people on job platforms, such as LinkedIn, can help you learn more about potential internships, job shadows, etc. Also, knowing someone with connections to an internship you are interested in can give you an advantage compared to other applicants. During these uncertain times, I have taken advantage of having more free time to participate in different programs and presentations. Many of these programs consist of students with a variety of different majors, but who have the similar interests in their career goal. Before this seminar class, I was only interested in connecting with students who I already knew from high school and students who are in the same college as me. I did not think of expanding my connections to students from other colleges, majors, etc. Doing this can help you learn about a variety of opportunities from the university that may not be specific with your exact college but may be similar to your career interests.
2. Switching from Evolution to Revolution
Every business wants to evolve their company over time to be more ahead of competition. However, many companies are more focused on having an evolution rather than having a revolution. When a company wants to make a revolution, they want to make a difference that will not only benefit their company but help others. A company’s determination to make a revolution shows their willingness to be a leader of positive change. During my seminar class, I learned that BP wants to make a revolution with their goal of building a net zero company. This goal will persuade similar companies to follow in their footsteps and aim towards being a net zero company as well. If you plan on someday running your own business, it is crucial that you take the lead in your industry and you strive for change that will create a revolution.
3. The Importance of a work-life balance
As a college student, I know that it could be very difficult to make personal time for yourself. Some people may be busy with organizations, internships, programs, or even class assignments. It is important to learn how to balance time for social activities and work activities. You do not want your whole life to just be about work, work, and more work. If you never give yourself a break, then you will miss out on all the fun activities that give you time to relax and hang out with peers. Due to COVID-19, I am aware that it is hard to socialize with peers and family members. However, you should not waste all the extra time you have doing only work. I know when this semester first started, I wanted to stuff all my homework assignments into one day and finish them all before the next day. Doing this caused me to not be as social as I used to, whether that was on social media, texting and calling family and friends, or just getting out of my room in general, etc. Later into the semester, I began to realize that if I kept continuing with what I was doing, then I was going to become constantly lonely and unhappy. I say this to remind you that there is nothing wrong with taking a break every now and then. Breaks are crucial for relieving the stress and anxiety you may have from work related things.
4. Using Customers’ Opinions for Innovation
It is always important to use your target market’s input when making innovations. Sometimes we forget about our customers and focus on what we like and our own interests. There is nothing wrong with creating a business based off what you want to sell and create. However, we must take into consideration what the potential customers prefer in your products. My startup consists of handmade jewelry and crocheted products such as: slouchy hats, winter hats, and twist headbands. When I first began the business I only focused on my own interests and opinions on what my products should look like. Later, I saw that there were certain products that my target market preferred more compared to others, whether that had to do with the type of beads, yarn, etc. When I began to innovate my products to match the interests of my potential customers, I had more customer engagement on my Etsy page and Instagram, where I mainly market my products. In general, companies should allow their customers to have a say in their innovative strategies to ensure customer satisfaction.