Catching the Entrepreneurship Bug at HBS – MBA
Before coming to HBS, I viewed entrepreneurship as a solo business – something you only undertake if you have a worthy idea, unwavering self-confidence, and a closet full of black turtlenecks. Back in my days in consulting and then in a growing startup, I had come to see myself as the ultimate team player and not at all the type of person who would go it alone. I like to immerse myself in new situations and diverse teams to solve new problems and this interest in team dynamics, problem solving and rapid change made me think that the entrepreneurial path is not for me.
Slowly but surely at HBS I started to get the entrepreneurship bug. I would sit in class thinking about the decisions I would make in the protagonist’s position and realize with total shock that… I would like to be in that person’s shoes. Since when did I become that person who wanted to make tough decisions rather than the repairman who put out fires and shake things up after those decisions were made?
This slow and constant slide towards testing my own idea has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic. The timing for this insane combination of wanting to connect with friends and family, wanting to spread a little joy wherever possible, and feeling ready to test out some great epiphanies that I had in semester of autumn. In the HBS Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) course, I had two major achievements that really changed the course of my career and honestly, I think about my life in general.
- First, my job will not be the thing that fulfills me in all aspects of my life. I want to have a balance between my work, my friends, my family and my hobbies. This is what started to spin my brain on the idea of a “side crush”.
- Second, I have to look for things that I’m not only good at, but that I enjoy doing.
After a year and a half of HBS cases, eight months of a terrifying pandemic, and a lot of soul searching, it suddenly felt like the next step was totally obvious (but I think the idea had been germinating for a VERY long time). I was going to start my own business and I was going to sell my favorite thing to do: greeting cards.
Rebound! I saved most of the greeting cards I received and have always enjoyed making cards for friends and loved ones for birthdays and special occasions. But… now I was really going to put them on the Internet? For the world to see?!?!? This is where my team came in. I had thought entrepreneurship was a lonely business, but in fact it only solidified who my real team is. I had to reach out to trusted friends and advisers for ideas, feedback, and advice. I had to open up in a whole new way for me and share a side of myself that I hadn’t really shown before. I had to ask for help – something that I have historically avoided at all costs.
However, instead of feeling like a burden on these friends and family members, I feel like I have strengthened these relationships. To ask someone to trust you, you also have to be vulnerable with them, and there aren’t many ways to be more vulnerable than putting your glittery doodles on the World Wide Web for sale. So I created a Shopify account, created a “punny” name for my new store, and ordered a printer and cardstock. This is how Maker Scholar was born! Now I sell greeting cards, personalized artwork and a lot of other things that I make with my hands and art supplies through Shopify and Instagram from my little home ‘studio’ (i.e. my kitchen table).
It’s amazing how something that started out as a way to connect people while on vacation has turned into a passion and I’m so grateful to the professors and classmates at HBS who have helped me make it happen. get there. There is nothing I love more than receiving a text from a friend who sent my cards to a loved one, telling me how happy it made them. I have a saved photo of a friend whose grandfather has my cards displayed proudly in his house and shows it whenever she comes. It’s so special that I can make these ties with a piece of card stock that I loved making.
HBS courses like ALD, Managing Service Operations, How to Talk Gooder and eCommerce have given me essential skills to be able to start and run this small business, and I am very grateful to the professors themselves to be the people they are in. are and out of class. When I mentioned (nervously) that I had started an online greeting card business (who buys greeting cards online?!?!), I would be terrified to see an expression on their faces that said, “Oh. .. I see “. But it was always the opposite. They took the plunge and showed a level of excitement and commitment that really pushed me to keep going. Again, this was just another lesson in how entrepreneurship really is a team sport.
My time at HBS changed my way of thinking about the world and myself. During my freshman year I started to realize that a lot of the things I love the most about my job so far – being a generalist, meeting a lot of new people, asking tough questions, getting dirty. hands on a truly granular project – were all elements of entrepreneurship. The problem was, I had gotten used to a specific entrepreneur archetype and that archetype was nothing like me. I didn’t want to build the next big international organization and I still don’t want to. But as my world grew with every protagonist I met, every classmate I got to know, and every new skill I learned, I started to think that maybe there was actually a version of entrepreneurship for me. This version feels like a sideways scramble that fills my cup, strengthens and expands my connections in life, and asks me to explore a part of myself that I’ve left mostly hidden until now. I can’t wait to see where this prospect takes me and my small business.