Entrepreneurs Vital For Post-Coronavirus Economic Recovery
Cranfield School of Management’s director of the Bettany Center for Entrepreneurship, Dr. Stephanie Hussels, says after coronavirus, entrepreneurs will be essential to kickstart the global economy
COVID-19 brought businesses everywhere staggering to a halt as the world locked down. But the coronavirus pandemic could bring with it exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs––at least, that’s according to Cranfield School of Management’s director of the Bettany Center for Entrepreneurship, Dr Stephanie Hussels.
“There’s no crystal ball that can predict how markets will develop in this unprecedented climate, but I think entrepreneurs are even more important to the economy than before,” Stephanie says.
“Yes, there are challenges, but there are also opportunities for entrepreneurs to take advantage of and create future jobs and roles for the economy––which is vital.”
But what makes entrepreneurs stand out from the workforce? Stephanie explains it’s a state of mind; a more open and innovative approach to even the most traditional industries. At Cranfield, she has spent over 13 years outlining what it takes to shift from an efficient employee to a business leader.
Responding to coronavirus
Cranfield students and alumni are now able to get involved in the BGP Response Program, which aims to support SMEs during the coronavirus pandemic and offer advice to workforces, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs alike. This is all taking place online, through webinars—which have been attended by over 1,200 people so far—as well as breakout forums, and regular online updates.
Stephanie explains that the free of charge program is designed to tackle the three predicted phases during the pandemic: reaction and confusion, adjustment and coping, and re-emergence.
Ultimately, the message Cranfield is sharing with students is that there is always room for innovation, for new business, and success––no matter the situation.
“Becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted,” Stephanie concludes. “But I think it can be hugely rewarding setting up your own business, or working with your own team to develop and turn an idea into reality. All students should get the chance to explore and understand that entrepreneurship is always a valid career opportunity.”
The entrepreneurial process
The Bettany Center, first established in 2006, is at the heart of Cranfield’s efforts to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs. Stephanie explains faculty take a three-pronged approach: education, research, and practice interactions. They are involved in all programs Cranfield offers.
“The main aim of the center is to focus on entrepreneurial growth,” she explains. “We cover the whole entrepreneurial lifecycle, from startup to scaling up and exiting businesses. We’re just looking for driven and energetic individuals who are ambitious and want to leave a mark on the world.”
Giving people the tools to turn ideas into reality is the key behind reinvigorating the economy post-pandemic. A new business has a knock-on effect: more jobs, more competition, and more long-term stability.
With previous guest speakers including Marks & Spencer's head of sustainable business, Carmel McQuaid, and co-director of inquiry into the design of a sustainable financial system at UN Environment Program (UNEP), Nick Robins, students are given leading examples of what it takes to be a social entrepreneur. There’s the Social Entrepreneurship module, too, which provides the theoretical backing to these real-life examples.
Sustainability in business is one of the fastest growing trends in business, with innovators scrambling to win the race to 100% green and sustainable business practices. Cranfield has responded to this surge and is aiding students with goals to launch businesses in this space––even in a more rigid and corporate setting.
Programs like this one have been cultivated because, it’s not just about coming up with unique business plans that fill a gap in the market, but also conducting business responsibly, Stephanie says.
Extracurricular activities for entrepreneurs
What a school can offer students outside of the classroom is just as important when molding the next generation of entrepreneurs, Stephanie claims.
“We offer students extracurricular activities which include startup weekends where students work on their business ideas and are matched with mentors. We give students every opportunity to network and learn from experienced entrepreneurs and investors in their chosen fields.”
At the beginning of every student’s time at Cranfield School of Management, the school runs the Bettany Center Speaker Series, Stephanie says. This is where three leading entrepreneurs give talks, sharing their war stories and lessons learned with the students. “This is to ignite that curiosity and help students learn from the experiences of others,” she says.
This is bookended with a final opportunity for students and alumni alike to gather and pitch their finalized business ideas to investors and venture capitalists. This is the final step for students aiming to have their entrepreneurial goals realized.
Some ideas take a bit longer to cultivate than programs at Cranfield run for, Stephanie admits. Students may graduate and work for a few years before returning with their concrete business plan––which is why alumni will always be welcome.
“Cranfield alumni are part of the school’s DNA and so our resources remain open to them,” Stephanie says.