Entrepreneurs: What advice do you have?

Five days from now, I’ll begin the last semester of my undergraduate career. I’ll save the retrospective look for another time. Today, though, I would like to make mention of something.

As a communication and interactive media double major, I felt like I haven’t been taught enough in the ways of business and entrepreneurship at Bradley. I should note, before I continue, that both departments teach certain elements.

Interactive media majors routinely present their projects in class for group critiques. They are taught how to be creative, soak up information themselves and spit it out intelligently when the time comes in the form of a presentation/critique. I’ve noticed during my few short months of an internship with a creative company that the IM department is doing a great job of preparing students for entering the industry. My friends in the creative process are used to the same kinds of deadlines that are given in school. But there’s not a whole bunch of talking about business as in capturing sales, making sure the books balance and such.

Over in Com, there’s a little more talk of being a business person. Feature Writing teaches a little snippet of it when querying a publisher, and Magazine Production attempts to kill two birds in one stone by teaching how you to finance and sell your magazine while trying to be creative with it, as well.

On the whole, though, both departments – based on the classes I have taken – roll with the assumption that you will go to work for an established company and pretty much pass up the notion that students can start their own business. Maybe it’s because the economy is in the tank. Maybe it’s because the faculty are so busy bolstering what they have in their departments, they’re not thinking outside the box. Or, maybe the seeds were placed too early for me to pay attention. Each year, it seems, I change my mind about what I want to do when I graduate.

I’m not as familiar with Com graduates, but I know many IM alums have gone on to start their own business and freelance. I wonder how many of them took business classes. I wonder how many of them knew how to negotiate with clients.

I’ll admit: my curiosity in startups and entrepreneurship in the IM world isn’t all that advanced. I started thinking about it more after sitting in on production meetings and hearing sales people talk about their meetings with clients. Then I wrote a blog post about how Chicago was thriving with innovation for TechWeek. Most recently, I’ve been reading Dan Gillmor’s Mediactive. He devotes an entire chapter to saying that entrepreneurship will save journalism, but he extends and invites the whole tech arena into the conversation.

Sure, there are graduate programs that focus on entrepreneurship (CUNY, ASU). But from what I’ve noticed, neither the Com or IM departments have really leveraged the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship or the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. Why let engineering get all the fun over there?

This post isn’t meaning to say that either program is horrible for not focusing on this. Rather, I’d like to use this space to invite graduates of departments to share their entrepreneurial experience and advice.

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.