Monday, 10 May 2010

The Researcher as Entrepreneur

Today was scheduled a workshop/lecture organised by FuelRCA, the business practice advisory arm of the college, on the thrillingly titled subject of 'Setting Up a Company'. The lecture was given by four accountancy and/or tax experts from KPMG, and from a sartorial and aesthetic point of view, they certainly looked like representatives of an accountancy firm. It is almost strange how it remains possible to tell exactly what someone does just by the demeanour of their features and mode of dress. Or as a colleague I attended the lecture with pointed out, you can always tell who is researcher by the pointedly seriousness of their expression, and their 'please don't distract me' body language.

I was interested to attend this session as part of my own research work is connected to how and why designers in the fashion industry go about setting up their business. As we learnt in this session the UK retains its incredibly laissez-faire attitude to the establishment of a business enterprise. As the process was explained to us in so seemingly simplistic terms it's wonder why everyone is not an entrepreneur. While the technicalities may be simple, what was not explained was the reality of the fortitude and stamina required in setting up a business, whether as a sole-trader or as a partnership or limited company. It made we aware that as researchers, certainly in our department of Fashion and Textiles, the requirement of an entrepreneurial spirit is certainly an asset in the practice of research. As much as it is an opportunity to be able to pursue research on a specific and nuanced topic, it is also required of the researcher to create their own opportunities via avenues of research, meetings, writing articles, submitting conference papers, archives, libraries and chance conversations with fellow researchers or colleagues. My own background, and indeed my first degree, is in the area of business and management, and in developing my own skills as a researcher over the past few months it has certainly felt at times like I am in pursuit of learning how to manage a business. While their are a number of books and lectures on the subject of writing a thesis or surviving the trauma of your viva voce, each of our projects are ultimately so individual, that perhaps as researchers we are all, to a certain extent, entrepreneurs.

How useful the practical aspects of this session will be I have yet to determine, as I ruminate on the vague prospects and opportunities for life in both the current research and the post-research phases. But for anyone else contemplating the adventure of entrepreneurial endeavour here are some links that might prove a useful starting point:

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