This is a piece put together by Lucy Thomas, Course Leader in BA Music Business at University of South Wales. She published it before Christmas on her LinkedIn and has very kindly allowed us to republish.
Finding myself with some rare time over Christmas I have taken the opportunity to write up a post inspired by some unknown family photos my mum recently shared with me. For the last few years I have been musing concepts of entrepreneurialism, creativity and the nature-nurture debate. It is not my favourite word and I’m not sure exactly what it means, but roughly it’s about new ventures and ideas. The attached photos were a wonderful discovery and have gone some way in confirming my thoughts.
Is entrepreneurialism something that can be taught or is it more of an innate, sixth sense that individuals are born with? Do some people just have the X Factor for new business generation? Obviously, most skills can be learned to some extent, but it is apparent that there are “natural entrepreneurs” who thrive in new landscapes. The traits of individuals wired this way are evident from a young age and at the very heart of it, I see the motivation as creativity and social connectivity. Interaction, expression, the bringing together of things is the driver and pleasure here. It is often the norm for profit to be the secondary result of an excellent service or product. An affirmation of value and not always the main focus as non-entrepreneurs may think.
What has led me to this point has been my own experiences coupled with observations of my oldest son and his friends over the last few years. From the age of about six he genuinely loved nothing better than setting a stall up in the front garden so he could sell, barter, exchange and most of all interact. We then moved to the coast and things got really exciting when the sun shone, people were thirsty and there were tourists. We literally had camper vans pulling up outside and kept running out of stock.
Some young children would rather eat coal than talk to a stranger, or tout a new idea, but our boy just loves to hustle. Fast forward to his dads Street Food projects there is a smoothie stall being incubated along with growing frustration that he’s only 10 and can’t go it alone just yet. We have neither encouraged or discouraged, he’s just been running with his own plans and I have learned that this is the way it is with kids. They have their own ideas no matter what yours are.
Just recently we found these photos of my Great Grandfather’s shop in Pentre selling all kinds of things including bikes and records. I love the way it’s called “W Wiltshire – Athletic, Cycle, Gramophone, Wireless and Electrical Depot”. Anyone who knew the record shop I had for 21 years in Cardiff called Catapult will probably laugh at the many similarities between my business and his, despite the hundred years or so age gap. After completing law school the path I choose at 24 was not that of a solicitor, but an unknown one in self-employment and dance music. Catapult was a launchpad for a label, events, DJ school, lecturing, fashion line and community venue. There is no set career path once you go it alone and this is the best bit.
There can be misconceptions in the ways these “going aloners” or entrepreneurs are perceived and it is particularly difficult for creatives to connect with concepts of business and profit, almost as it if devalues the authenticity of their work. An ugly monster of commercial manipulation, materialism or some such other hideous proposition. The reality is that all new ventures are exciting start-ups to be explored whatever the context and this includes creative projects, music and art. The art of business in itself is an imaginative process; an adventure where you dig deep to collaborate, diversify, adapt and ultimately survive.
Increasingly I see the entrepreneurialism term popping up in the educational sphere and indeed it was a Foundation Degree in Music Industry Entrepreneurship that drew me to the University of South Wales in 2012 and precipitated a career change in lecturing. I found it amazing that people could actually gain qualifications in this sector and was curious to decipher the curriculum processes. What I have found are innovative, transferable skills and environments where you can test things out, including yourself. There are definitely natural entrepreneurs engaging with the process, as well as more reluctant innovators, who sometimes find out to their surprise that they like this stuff.
I am aware that this is a very personal account, really just scratching the surface on a subject I’m keen to research further. Very interested in feedback and shared experiences.
Footnote Jan 2017…. Since writing this post a number of people have been in touch (thank you) with information about W.Wiltshire, including this advert from the Rhondda Leader Newspaper 1917. This has enabled me to date more accurately and I’m blown away that Catapult and Wiltshire’s shops co-existed over a hundred years apart! I love the tone of the advert; the way in encourages saving money by riding bikes in a bid to push the brand. Entrepreneurialism and Wales are in my blood more than I know.
Thanks Lucy! Looky here for more info on the excellent University South Wales BA Music Business course