Get the full roundup of everything SPARK 2018 and the life lessons our applicants picked up along the way
First off, a HUGE congratulations to our SPARK Winners for Plan and Venture! Find out who’s won over on our Facebook!
Another year, another SPARK. It was a hugely successful year for everyone who applied for our most recent stages, SPARK Plan and Venture, and the Ideas stage in November. Listening to dozens of young entrepreneurs talk passionately about helping other people has been a privilege. All of our SPARK judges have been blown away by everyone’s innovative ideas, dedication and business acumen. In short: we’re all very proud of our enterprising students!
When I was filming the videos for the SPARK awards, one of our applicants was keen to share that the most valuable thing he had learnt in his entrepreneurial journey so far was this: you don’t need a business background to be an entrepreneur, only the willingness to work hard and stay dedicated to your goals. I pitched the same question to all 12 applicants, and all of them had something different to say, so here’s a list of the skills you can learn by being curious and exploring your business idea…
Many of our SPARK applicants felt that the challenges they’ve overcome so far have improved how the tackle problems in all aspects of their work. Being able to assess a problem, but also brainstorming multiple ways to confront it, comes with experience and perseverance. We also learnt that our students felt more comfortable taking the initiative and were unafraid to be ambitious with their businesses. It goes to show that the personal project people take on when they pursue entrepreneurship can not only change the world around them, but bring positive changes to the way they think.
I’ve been to so many careers fairs and heard the same ‘I don’t think I’m organised enough to run my own business’ line. Being in control of your work/life balance is an art and all art takes time to master. The difference with our students is that they’ve had a goal to stay passionate about. An entrepreneur’s success is dependent on the work that is put in, so you’ll end up gaining the skills one way or another. You CAN learn how to be organised, how to manage your time, how to work independently, if you’re not going to get bored. Some of our students are already there, others are on their way, but it shouldn’t stop anyone from trying in the first place.
Sooner than you think, and more often than you think, you’ll need to get talking to other people to keep the entrepreneurial ball rolling. Yes, it’s daunting. Yes, it’s exhausting. But sow the seeds and you’ll reap the rewards. All of our SPARK applicants have attended networking events where they’ve met potential partners, sponsors and investors, and they’ve all improved their networking skills just by putting themselves out there with a clear pitch. These situations also better everyone’s people skills as you gain confidence in how you present yourself. Lastly, never underestimate the importance of collaboration. Lots of people have what you need, but you’re still the one with the killer idea. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Our SPARK applicants are all Enterprise workshop regulars so it’s great to hear that they’ve been putting the skills they’re learning to good use. One of the biggest benefits of their time with us is that they’ve all improved their pitching skills. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be talking about your idea to family, friends, business partners, investors; the list goes on. You’ll grow in confidence, develop a stronger script and suddenly you’ll have presentation as an employability skill too. Our applicants also have had 1-2-1 help with writing their first business plan and they wouldn’t be where they are today without one. You can’t imagine you’ll get investment without a clear plan and the Enterprise team can guide you through what is required in content and structure. And don’t forget: this is just as valuable to employers as it is to investors. Who knows when you’ll need to propose a brilliant new idea to your boss.
Inspired? Get involved with Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up!
Do you have entrepreneurial inspirations and aspirations? Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up could help you realise your full potential in business and entrepreneurship. It’s all about thinking creatively, spotting opportunities, making things happen and developing skills for life. It’s not just about business; it’s about helping you to make the most of yourself.
We run workshops, competitions and sessions to help you develop skills and knowledge. Find out about all our courses and sessions on the intranet, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, with #ideastolife, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Caspar Jayasekera, Enterprise Intern
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