In my Easter ‘break’ from the day job at the University of East Anglia I have been tempted to undertake another online course with Future Learn. ‘The Enterprise Shed; Making Ideas Happen’ from Newcastle University caught my eye because the concept of working from a shed full of ideas really appealed to me. I’ve nearly completed the first week and wanted to capture some of my reflections; it’s certainly got me thinking!
This course aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs and the course team are stretching the definition of ‘entrepreneurship’ in defining it as everyday problem solving and doing. I’m not disagreeing with the definition because as an occupational therapist I believe that humans are naturally driven to ‘do’, to be productive and find purpose in life. I’m wondering though if, to be a proper entrepreneur, your problem solving needs to have an impact on a lot of people rather than just your own life or that of your family.
I’m really enjoying the idea that the course team have developed that positive social impact can be a goal of the entrepreneur as much as making a profit. I’ve devoted a lot of time as a volunteer to help projects happen that benefit others, so perhaps I’m an entrepreneur already! The challenge is that at some point someone in the home needs to make money to pay the bills, even if the primary goal isn’t to get rich. Doing what you love, helping others and earning a living all need to be combined very creatively to work well.
The course team includes a man who has started his own business hiring bikes and kayaks from small premises on the coast of Northumberland with a little café upstairs. It’s called Cullercoats Bike and Kayak. He is successful as an entrepreneur because he genuinely wants to create a good experience and provide an excellent service for his customers. He didn’t set out to make millions; he wanted to do something he loved. He made the right connections and he wasn’t afraid to approach people who might help. Then he worked hard and continues to do so. Some useful lessons to take on board.
My dream is to set up a business or social enterprise that harnesses the benefits of engaging with the natural environment to promote well-being. We have a growing health crisis that cannot be solved by simple answers like ‘eat healthier foods’; it needs a bigger shift in tackling lifestyle change and social inequalities. In my small way I can’t have a huge influence on this, but I could perhaps make a little difference. The business would, of course, also be kind to the environment; so that future generations will have a natural world to appreciate.
I’m a trustee for the charity Surf Action that uses the power of the ocean to support veterans who are living with the effects of combat related trauma. I’m therefore very aware that there is strong research evidence to support the use of the ‘blue gym’ and the green gym’ for healing and health promotion. With my professional skills and knowledge as an occupational therapist I am well placed to take this idea further. The broad concept isn’t new or original, but perhaps I can find my own unique niche? Perhaps combined with my love of digital media, art and photography? Walk, talk, click and share? The possibilities are endless!
Follow the course on twitter using #FLentshed and find the course and others at www.futurelearn.com
Some of my photographs from this week walking the dog: