My name is Aeysha and I was part of the test-tube-baby first cohort of Entrepreneur Lab by CIEE. I'm a female entrepreneur starting out with my own alternative beauty brand which, I hope, is going to shake up the beauty industry.
I began the course in January in the advanced class. I had already done numerous workshops and spent months conducting online research which I believed covered the Emerge course material in (we'll come back to this). I had a validated idea of doing survey research at Westfields shopping centre, which I referenced to secondary to back up my market positioning.
The timeframe I had set for the online launch for my finished product overlapped with the duration of eLab. For my online launch, I built the Instagram page myself as well as the photography and the website. With all of this going on, you might think that starting a six week intensive entrepreneurship course would tip the scale and it would have all become too much and, although it was difficult, I think eLab may have been the thing that kept me sane as I journeyed toward my business launch
I believe that participating in eLab was one of the most logical moves I could make at this stage of my business and here's why:
1. I'm a solo entrepreneur, I don’t have a co-founder as a sounding board therefore, the network of peers I have around me is super important. it's really difficult to find these peers if they're not already in your immediate friendship circle, or you missed out on business school.
eLab mitigated this by giving me peers who had a huge pay it forward mindset . There's a continual flow of ideas, information and contacts among us - even after the course has finished. This supported me so much in my solo foundership.
Let's face it, social media education is probably years away from being institutionalised anywhere, despite it being essential to success. Even if formal educators began to learn the intricacies, it would be years before they caught up and mastered it - by which time things will have changed . Social media is a culture, and having young people around you who understand it and can strategize with you outside the classroom is crucial.
2. I am not accustomed to an interdependent workflow, therefore, my independence has acted as a communication barrier between me and hired contractors.
For my logo I had four consecutive graphic designers and, not a single one managed to produce work which I felt reflected my vision. In the short term, it might have felt good to point the finger, however, when you’re the boss all mistakes always come back to you, It’s always your fault.
The soft skills sessions we had taught us how to identify our own and other people's way of life and communication. It taught me skills I didn't even know existed, not only was the psychology taught by Mia Forbes Pirie super interesting but, it also gave me an edge in terms of earning a good reputation in my field and to communicating with humility and empowerment.
3. It gave me a stronger sense of accountability. Kiran always used check-ins to make sure everything was on track and would question me if it wasn't - something I'm not used to but am grateful for. She's a great facilitator from behind the scenes. She is the Alfred to any entrepreneurs' Bruce Wayne, if you will (Batman reference for those of who didn't catch it). She goes the extra mile for her students and most people will never know the full extent of what she does.
Admittedly, I am one of those people who don't get why people go to university to study business. This is probably because my father was an entrepreneur at my age and he was successful despite never having a formal business education. Usually, as he sips his tea in his armchair, he'll proclaim how he strongly believes in business being learned through experience and mistakes.
I see his point here. Although, I also think the same mistakes are often made, history repeats itself and through education you reduce your exposure to these risks. At eLab you do it in six weeks rather than three years of business school.
Whenever you do something for the first time, it’s never going to be perfect. Nonetheless, through CIEE I've been made to challenge my assumptions. With them, if I do make a rookie mistake, it's in classroom and not in a boardroom. And the impact on my business is minimal. Interested? Learn more about eLab Emerge here