To fulfill our long-term vision of sustainability through entrepreneurship, we also need to make a short-term impact. The world needs more people who think and build like entrepreneurs, and we at AVP are in a key position to make that happen.
But entrepreneurship is hard — we know that. We don’t expect everyone to start pitching their latest ideas to strangers at the bus stop, even though we believe everyone will benefit from entrepreneurial thinking. It takes a lot of guts to start a company, but also the right motivation, mindset, and skills.
To better understand our impact and how students at Aalto University feel about entrepreneurship and their capabilities, we conducted a survey about entrepreneurial mindset together with Aaltoes.
By far, the biggest reason for being uncertain about entrepreneurship is financial insecurity. And that’s understandable — we’ve said a lot about entrepreneurship, but we never claimed it’s a source of sure and steady income. There are always risks, but the rewards can also be high. What’s more notable is that the next two most significant factors are not yet having an idea and an experienced lack of skills.
Valid reasons both, but luckily more easily mended than financial insecurity. We’ve talked about both entrepreneurial skills and where to learn them, and turning SDGs into business opportunities in our blog. Obviously, both themes are also heavily present in our startup courses.
The skills and qualities that make a great entrepreneur also help anyone get ahead in a world where few things are stable or certain. We wanted to know more about some specific skills and found out that Aalto students consider themselves quite entrepreneurial but feel like they lack some core capabilities — luckily, these skills can be learned and practiced.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Aalto students consider themselves goal-oriented and have a strong drive to achieve things. However, not as many thought themselves self-confident or innovative.
Despite realizing how hard it is, many Aalto students are interested or even intend to start their own business. A staggering number of over 80% of the respondents expressed an intention to start their own business at some point if they haven’t done it already.
It seems like one of the more significant changes in entrepreneurship in the last decade is the rise of impact startups: businesses that focus on doing something good for the planet instead of focusing purely on making a profit. Even many regular old companies have increased their sustainability efforts. We can’t be sure if the reason is simply the worsening climate crisis and the more acute need to counter it or if there is an actual change in underlying motivation in the younger generations. Whichever the case, it’s the results that matter — and the results look good.
For 60% of respondents, making an impact was among the reasons for starting a business, beating accumulating wealth which stands at about 50%.
This, of course, is just a snapshot of the current status. That’s why we will repeat the survey every year, to understand better how the entrepreneurial mindset changes in the university. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to make sure it spreads and grows because that’s what our planet needs.
In the past ten years, AVP, entrepreneurship, and the world around us have all changed a lot. Hopefully, we’ve changed some individuals’ lives as well, and for the better. In the next ten years, much more will change. And we’re planning on being a part of it.