This is a sentence that we hear a lot here at The Centre for Student Entrepreneurship. TV programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon's Den have certainly raised awareness of entrepreneurship which is a good thing but I feel that they've also created an image of an entrepreneur as a hard-nosed, sales-driven business person with a huge ego.
The Apprentice is particularly guilty of this! I think it is impossible to watch an episode without cringing at least 10 times. During the first episode of the new series which started recently, one of the candidates claimed that he was a cross between Gandhi and the Wolf of Wall Street – I mean really!?
That said I do still watch it after all these years (along with millions of other people) so I guess the producers are doing something right! Ultimately, we all know that The Apprentice is an entertainment programme and it is edited in such a way that it really does show some of the worst possible examples of behaviour in the business world which is not reflective of real life.
I think it's important to remember that you don't have to fit a certain personality type to be an entrepreneur. In our department we come across entrepreneurs from all sorts of backgrounds who are doing lots of really interesting things. We support everyone from students who are interested in starting a social enterprise because they want to help people to those who want to sell their artwork, music bands to clothing brands and everything in between.
There is no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is just about having a good idea and making it happen and anyone can do that whether they're hard-nosed and all about profit like Alan Sugar or they just want to make the world a better place.
The reason that we've created the new event 'Sugar Free Mingle' is not because I have a personal vendetta against Alan Sugar! I actually think he has an interesting entrepreneurial story and he does a lot of work to encourage young people to start businesses and raise awareness of entrepreneurship as a career path. I just think that there is a lot more to being an entrepreneur than what we see on these sorts of TV programmes.
I hope that Sugar Free Mingle inspires students to give entrepreneurship a try or at the very least dispels some of the myths associated with being an entrepreneur. If you'd like to come along to the event and meet some interesting people email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sugar Free Mingle will be held in Cardiff School of Management from 5:30 to 8:00pm on November 4th. (Forgive me for this shameless plug!)
Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator