The world overflows with stories of people who’ve made success on their own terms. Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak starting Apple in Jobs’ mum’s garage. Anita Roddick and The Body Shop. The near overnight transformation of Instagram into a billion-dollar company. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Janine Alice and Boost Juice.
It’s possible that you already know what you want your start-up business to be, but at this stage, dreams of your own TED Talk are still some way off. The truth is that while ‘making it’ looks impressive, no-one gets there on their own.
Learn to be an entrepreneur
The more you understand the world around you – how it works, what it needs, where your strengths intersect – the more likely you’ll experience success. That’s why studying somewhere with the resources to give your idea wings, and provide room and guidance for dealing with the inevitable teething problems, is one of the best ways you can give your new project its greatest chance to thrive.
As long as you have an idea, it doesn’t matter if you’re short on experience. According to Dr Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship at La Trobe Business School:
Nobody is born an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurship can certainly be taught.”
To this end, La Trobe offers courses that provide experience-driven and technologically advanced education for aspiring entrepreneurs at all levels.
Dr Maritz says much of this support comes as expertise in the latest tools such as design thinking, lean start-up methods, business model creation and access to established industry networks. Tapping into your uni’s support certainly pays off – after all, four out of five start-up founders in Australia are university graduates.
For profit? Or not-for-profit?
Broadly speaking there are two models of entrepreneurship: for-profit and not-for-profit. The not-for-profit model means finding a problem such as lack of clean water, waste reduction, or barriers to education, and working towards a creative solution. A not-for-profit works towards social and environmental outcomes, not just financial viability.
The for-profit model might take the form of a new app like Uber, a social networking site, or even a craft brewery. However, being for-profit doesn’t have to mean leaving your conscience at home. There is a growing demand for products and services that take their environmental and social responsibilities seriously. This could mean shoes that are made from ethically and locally sourced materials, or an events company that supports a social cause.
Dr Maritz says that the best piece of advice he can give to an aspiring entrepreneur is, “Be true to yourself.” What this means in practice is that you need to find something you’re passionate about, because without passion your motivation could flag. What kind of problem do you want to solve, and how? The world needs you now more than ever.
Get a head start for your start-up
The La Trobe Accelerator Program will help give you the knowledge and skills you need to bring your vision to life. Alongside close mentoring from people with extensive experience in the start-up space, you’ll benefit from connections to the world’s top players, including the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC).
The La Trobe Accelerator Program can even provide your team with up to $20,000 of seed funding, which is a big step in the right direction – one in five successful start-ups in Australia have benefitted from a university incubator program. In addition, yearly awards such as the Hult Prize offer a cool one million dollars to the team who’s best articulated their vision for making the world a better place. With the right guidance, it could be yours.
No matter what you want your legacy to look like – social, tech, product based or service driven – a start-up incubator will help your vision take flight.
So, if you’ve got an idea ready to pitch, why not sharpen your start-up skills while you do your degree? By accessing entrepreneurial expertise on campus, you’ll not only fast-track your concept –you might even graduate with a company to your name.
What’s your big idea? Find out at La Trobe.