May 6, 2009

View point before going to China

I know this is somewhat long, but it represents some of the things I have learned this semester in my International Business Topics class in preparing to go to China. I can't wait to leave for China on May 17th, and will get a lot of photos and good information to bring back so keep an eye out!

Personal Reflection: Part One
Throughout my group’s process in coming up with a business venture concept I have learned many valuable things that I will be able to benefit from for the rest of my career in school as well as business. One of the things I learned first-hand about was how to manage time effectively while working on a team. All of my group members and I have very busy schedules, so coming up with times for everyone to meet and work together was a task in itself. I have always heard about how important time management is in college and beyond in order to be successful. I now know that this is extremely valid information, and if one cannot successfully manage their time they surely will not get very far in business. Also, in addition to being able to manage time I had to be flexible and willing to do a little extra if I had to for the good of the group and the project. Since the world is an ever changing environment, flexibility and adaptability are very important qualities to possess. Another important thing that I learned from working on the business venture is that I can be creative in my thoughts if I just concentrate on doing so. I have always thought that I wasn’t very creative, nor was I capable of being creative. The things we have been assigned to do in this class have really given me the opportunity to find that creative side of myself and let it show in some of the work I’ve done. Although I have learned a lot of other things during the semester, this is probably the most gratifying; to know that I can be creative after all. There are really so many things that I have learned during the course of this class about how to create something; from the first stage of an idea jotted down on a notebook to the idea actually taking shape and coming to life. I know when I was first working on my business plan I was thinking that it was a far-fetched idea and didn’t really know if it was feasible or not. I just cranked away at the details of the idea and did a lot of research and asked people (including professors of mine) questions until I finally could put together something that looked realistic. Just doing this part alone gave me an extreme sense of accomplishment.
After my group got started on our business plan we had a lot of questions about how to put it together. We used the book’s template to get us started, but some things that were also helpful was the speakers that have come in to the class and talked to us about what it means to be an entrepreneur. It was also nice to be able to hear Kai Worrell talk to us about what business is actually like in China and where the opportunities lie. After some brainstorming, my group and I recognized where an opportunity is in China right now; the agriculture industry. We did some research and found out that there is going to be an emerging food shortage in China and that the problem is already being looked at by the government there. We saw this as the perfect time to try to implement a new way of farming that is more efficient and less wasteful. We developed our business model around the idea that food is becoming an issue in China, and that the government would be interested in helping us get our idea off of the ground financially. After analyzing the current industry and market in China we determined that this was the perfect time to try to enter the market of farming. We wanted to implement a new way of farming called vertical farming. One main problem with the idea is that the initial costs of startup are high. We believed if we could prove how beneficial this concept was to the Chinese government, that they would help us fund the startup. All of my group members are passionate, skilled business students and we believe our venture idea can be realized. We are currently working on gathering resources to have a successful startup to our venture.
I think that all of the things that I have learned by building a business plan, working within a team, and listening to different people speak on how they see things in the world will help me with my next possible entrepreneurial experience. These things that I have learned are helping to shape me as a business student, and ultimately making me more of a rounded person that is accepting of other’s ideas. Other people can bring a totally different viewpoint to the table, and this is helpful as an entrepreneur. We need to be able to not only obtain criticisms from others, but then also use those to better our ideas and build upon them. As an entrepreneur, there are many people in the world that would love to see someone fail at a venture, but as I have learned in this class and others, there are also people that want to see them succeed. Not only do some people/firms want to see someone succeed; they are willing to give them money in order to see just that. Another thing that I got out of the things that I’ve done in this class is that passion is extremely important, and this will obviously be helpful to me in the future. If I am truly passionate about something then I can more easily get others excited about the same thing I am, and potentially build an investor base that way. I have learned that entrepreneurs do not give up on themselves or their ideas very easily, and that they are not afraid to fail. This is one of the things that make entrepreneurs unique and sometimes extremely wealthy, and I have found this to be interesting. Everyone seems to have ideas on how to make the world a better place, but only real entrepreneurs are the ones implementing those ideas for some of the reasons I have just mentioned. The ideas that I have written about will not only prove to be useful in an entrepreneurial environment, but also in the work environment when I start my career working under someone at first. Employers are looking for people who have some of the skills I mentioned such as being able to think outside the box and come up with ideas beyond what is being asked of you.
Before this class I had never worked on a business plan or tried to think of a business idea that didn’t already exist. I am thinking in a different way now and am analyzing things much more as a result of the things I have learned so far. I have learned that while it takes a lot of dedication and work to come up with a good idea and see it through; that the time and effort spent is well worth it. I think the idea behind entrepreneurship isn’t about money, and I used to. It is about doing something you love to do, and making other people’s lives easier or more convenient in some way in the process. I always thought that entrepreneurs just didn’t want to work for someone else, and while I know that is a reason for some, I know that it goes much deeper than that for many. I know that an important thing in business is to be always striving to improve, and this class has helped me take another step in doing that for myself.