In the spirit of U of T Entrepreneurship week, I thought I would share my own and fairly recent experience with entrepreneurship. This year I decided to challenge myself by taking some courses to hone my inner entrepreneur. In the fall, I enrolled in IMC200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation and in the winter, I interned at the Impact Centre through the course, IMC391 Exploring New Ventures. I’ve learned about business-y things like elevator pitches, value propositions and lean canvas models.
I’ve also discovered that there’s a lot of inspiring startup companies created by U of T alumni, such as StageKeep, HappyPops, iMerciv, and JustVertical to name a few. There’s also lots resources and opportunities to develop an idea and start a business with various incubators and accelerators on campus, and workshops hosted by the career centre and library.
But most of all, I’ve gained a new perspective on leadership as entrepreneurs use innovation to create new opportunities and value.
Here’s some lessons I’ve learned through entrepreneurship:
Turn problems into opportunities
One of the first things I learned in IMC200 was that every problem creates opportunity. And this doesn’t just have be in the sense of starting a new business, it can also simply be about creating more discussion or exposure to an issue. Now I don’t just see problems as things I need to fix or get rid of right away, now I see them more as opportunities for me to grow and learn something new.
Reflect more on my impact
Learning about the customer process really made me more conscious of my own consumer purchases. What triggers me to buy something? What barriers prevent me from buying something? But I think this can also help me reflect more deeply on my actions too. What triggers me to do something? What barriers prevent me/others from doing something?
Take more risks and fail (a lot)
I feel like I’ve learned a lot of strategies for minimizing failure, but it seems no matter how hard I try to avoid it, failure is an inevitable and necessary thing that just happens. And that’s okay. In fact, even some of the most successful companies have made products that failed. Taking risks and failing is still very uncomfortable, nonetheless, but it’s also a great way to learn.
I am a startup
I may not have my own business (yet) or have plans to start one in the the near future, but I am a constant work in progress. I’m investing in me by developing my skills and values, and exploring the uncertainty of my future. And I hope that by sharing what I learn and the resources I have, I may create more opportunities for others to learn and grow too!
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