Upon arriving at their new universities, many students are unaware of what to expect in the first year. They expect to gain knowledge, make new friends, and have good times while finding a new sense of direction. But imagine facing those challenges in a new country! I felt the weight of all those challenges and struggles that come with the importance of getting an education. However, when I got to know the people at VIU, who are very kind and open-minded, they pointed me in the right direction and gave me their warm support. They had answers to all the different questions and lingering doubts I had as a student. In my view, student life is the best period of any person’s life, filled with sweet memories. In this period of time, students start their own lives, especially if the students are international students.

                I have learned a great many things from my professors and from VIU staff members. I believe they gave me a broader outlook and attitude toward life. I always found it exciting to prepare for exams with my friends and to complete group work, all of us working and facing pressure together. Our professors pushed us out of our comfort zones and encouraged us to do our best. They motivated us to learn more, to be open to diverse viewpoints, and to pursue internships. They supported us every step of the way.
                One of the proudest accomplishments of my life is having earned my master’s degree. I had a dream to get my master’s degree from an American university. I believe graduation is a time to celebrate the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and individual achievements that led to such a prestigious accomplishment. It is a time when the individual can reflect on this stage of life and be proud of completing this phase of the educational career. I am sure, for most of us, this was no easy task. Especially for those who had to manage their time carefully, attending classes, writing papers, working part-time jobs, tending to spouses and children, and spending time with friends. In my opinion, these are experiences we can reflect upon with pride and which lead us forward with ambition.                  
                Concerning my own future career path, I am heading in the right direction, diploma in hand, and I am very grateful to my VIU professors for providing me with this direction and support.

Written by Nafisa Ismailova 

The Fall 2014 course schedule has been updated. Please review the updated schedule to ensure that your current registration matches with any and all of the course changes. If you have any questions please contact the SCIS program coordinator–contact information linked below.

Are you thinking of starting your own business venture? Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience with an opportunity to be your own boss, set your own agenda and schedule, and make a decent living doing something you enjoy. However, successful entrepreneurship requires thorough reflection and market knowledge, in-depth planning, creativity, hard work, and determination. Do you have what it takes?

Let’s look at some of the characteristics and skills commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs.
■ Accepting of Risk:  Running your own business involves a certain degree of uncertainties. By definition, entrepreneurship is about responding to business uncertainties. Do you enjoy the thrill of taking calculated risks? Or are you the type that avoids uncertainties and likes to have full control of all activities?
■ Self-Reliant: Entrepreneurship can be very lonely and you have to make a lot of decisions on your own. The ability to trust your instincts is essential. You also cannot be afraid of rejection every now and then.
■ Persuasive:  Effective entrepreneurs are persuasive. If you cannot persuade your customers, employees, investors, or partners, you may find entrepreneurship to be challenging. The ability to sell your ideas with ease is fundamental to bringing people on board and closing deals. If you can persuade, you can sell.
■ Able to Negotiate: Because of the constraints on your business (time and money), you have to know how to negotiate for everything – from leases to contract terms to rates. Effective negotiation skills will help you save money and keep your business running smoothly.
■ Creative:  Are you able to think of new ways and ideas? Can you imagine new alternatives and creative ways to solve problems? Entrepreneurs must be able to think creatively to survive given the level of competition and limited resources. If you have insights and the ability to respond to challenges creatively, entrepreneurship may be a good fit for you.
■ Plugged Into a Support System:  Starting a business can be very stressful, lonely, and frustrating. Be sure you have a strong support system in place.  As a business owner, you will make many important decisions, especially within the first months of opening.  A key support person is a business mentor. A business mentor is someone who is experienced, successful, and willing to provide advice and guidance.

20 KEY QUESTIONS FOR STARTUP BUSINESS OWNERS

1. Why am I starting a business and what are my motivations?
2. What kind of business do I want and why?
3. Who are my ideal customers and how do I know them?
4. What products or services will my business provide and what gap am I filling?
5. Am I prepared to make the level of commitment and spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
6. What differentiates my business idea and its products or services from others in the marketplace?
7. Will my business be based on-ground, online, or both?
8. How many employees will I need in year one?
9. What types of suppliers do I need in terms of partnership?
10. How much is my initial investment? (Are you assuming, or do you really know?)
11. Will I need to get a loan from a bank, friends, family, or investors?
12. How quickly can I bring my products or services to market?
13. When is my breakeven point and how long will I wait before making a profit?
14. Who is my competition and do I know my competition well?
15. What is my pricing structure compared to my competition?
16. What is the legal structure of my business – sole proprietorship, S- Corporation, LLC?
17. What taxes do I need to pay, to whom and when?
18. What kind of insurance do I need – comprehensive or limited liability?
19. How will I manage my business and what is my organizational structure?
20. How will I advertise my business and do I have a marketing plan?

Written by Dr. Stephen Onu

Recent MBA graduate Patcharee Wetpisai took Dr. Onu’s entrepreneurship advice to heart in taking advantage of opportunities to grow her own family business. Read her story here:

Patcharee stands in her graduation cap and gown, surrounded by family

I am a 2014 VIU graduate with a double MBA major in HR Management and Marketing Management. For me, graduation was the key that opened the door to my professional life. I had the HR experience and passion to develop the employer brand and to solve the problem of employee turnover in Thailand. As the oldest in my family, I have to take on responsibilities in my family’s cosmetics business. Now I use my HR and marketing knowledge helping my father in customer relationship management, as well as doing some market research for more effective product development program.

Studying at VIU helped me to achieve strong business connections with friends from all over the world. Within two days of graduation, I established new export opportunities to African countries and the United States because of the strong VIU global network. My job now is very enjoyable.  My every day work is all about learning new things in the real business world. I am hoping that someday I will get a chance to fulfill my dream of improving HR function by starting my very own company!