5 good reasons to start a business while you’re studying

5 good reasons to start a business while you’re studying


As the 5th edition of Global Entrepreneurship Week opens at UNIL on 13 November, I'd like to share a few thoughts with you on the subject of "entrepreneurship while studying".

Entrepreneurship is often seen as a risky venture that a student cannot afford. The typical response to the question "Do you intend to become an entrepreneur? often ends in a frozen smile that evokes surprise or a feeling of incapacity. All this often masks fears and prejudices. In reality, university is a great time to create and explore ideas, for 5 reasons:

#1 To rediscover meaning: entrepreneurship does not necessarily mean launching a "start-up", which would be a relatively old-fashioned and narrow vision of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is first and foremost about exploring an idea, finding solutions to issues that concern us, and bringing a project to fruition in forms as varied as an association, a company with a mission or a cooperative. Entrepreneurship in 2023 is also about helping to create a more sustainable and inclusive world. Out with the capitalist vision of entrepreneurship, in with impact.

#2 Be supported: since risk is inherent in the notion of entrepreneurship, it is important to be supported in an entrepreneurial project. As a student at UNIL, you are extremely lucky to have the support of organisations such as the Entrepreneurship and Innovation HUB and its UCreate programme. In the form of workshops at the end of the day, at a pace compatible with your studies, you can explore your idea alongside other project leaders from all faculties. Out with the solitude, in with the Villanova.

#3 Enrich your range of experience and profile: exploring an idea during your studies means acquiring skills and attitudes that complement your course and will be useful for your career path, whether you become an entrepreneur or not. The list is long: creativity, the ability to make hypotheses and test them, knowledge of innovation tools, systems thinking, interdisciplinary working, agility, resilience, etc. In a volatile and uncertain environment, these skills are increasingly valued by all sectors of the labour market. Gone are the certainties, welcome to the world of tomorrow.

#4 Change the way we look at the notion of success and failure: our academic system links the notion of success to the notion of exams and grades. Entrepreneurship gives us a different perspective: what if success meant learning by getting out of our comfort zone, making mistakes to find the right path? Entrepreneurship is a fundamentally iterative process. It's by testing hypotheses, and therefore often making mistakes, that we reduce the entrepreneurial risk. The objective is not success, but learning. In this respect, the entrepreneurial approach is liberating. Fear is out, exploration is in.

#5 Taking action together, the best remedy for eco-anxiety: social and environmental issues are so far-reaching and complex that they naturally generate anxiety in all of us. The more we know, the more helpless we feel, the more afraid we are... The best way out of this vicious circle is to take action. So let's take advantage of the richness of the university environment to exchange ideas, meet each other and, perhaps one day, set up interdisciplinary teams that can find solutions to these problems and put them into practice. Let's move away from anxiety and towards concrete action.

I wish you an excellent Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Anne Headon, Director of the UNIL Entrepreneurship and Innovation HUB