Fridays from the Frontline: How Do You Turn a Business Idea into a Real Business?
While the setting of this Fridays from the Frontline is Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, the question it explores is universal: How do you turn a business idea into a real business? Oxford MBA student, Jiaxian Shi, shares his journey to answer this question–what inspired him to attend Oxford Saïd, bridging the gap between ideas and reality, and more.
How Do You Turn a Business Idea into a Real Business?
By Jiaxian Shi, Oxford MBA ’19-’20
This question haunted me long before I came to Oxford. In my former company, I worked on a project in which I was supposed to help my colleagues in our headquarters to introduce a newly developed product into the local market. However, the project was never executed smoothly. I cold-called dozens of customers and paid visits to many of them all over the country. The result was disappointing – no one was interested in the product and the project was eventually terminated. This bitter experience became one of the reasons that I made up my mind to figure out the mystery of success in innovation by joining the MBA programme at Oxford.
The experience has not let me down. With all the basic knowledge and skills gained in Michaelmas and Hilary, the Entrepreneurship Project (EP) programme commenced, accelerating to the climax in Trinity. In the EP, my team innovated a new service in art tech and pivoted the business model for it. It was a good chance for me to put all I learnt in the past year into practice. This included testing operation theories, managing tech companies, finance and accounting, and most importantly, all the experience in innovation and entrepreneurship hands-on sessions, challenges, competitions, hackathons and projects. Only then did I realise that I had already participated in so many activities and I was no longer the amateur in transforming innovative technology into a feasible business case. I think I have found the answer to my question.
The journey was no overnight success. One needs to be patient and keep the momentum along the way. From GOTO, a mainly analytical project, to EP, a more practical experience, the Oxford MBA courses are well designed to lead you gradually onto the summit. It never challenges you with unrealistic targets that are too far away to reach, but it is never merciful enough to let you get too complacent.
It is like physical training in which one should do their best every day to achieve satisfying results. I am at the end of the training now. With a more practical part-time project, in which I was responsible for developing a data/AI strategy for an Edtech start-up, I feel I am now confident enough to face the challenges in the real business world.
It is now time to take the last step of my MBA journey, yet the first step into the the new career ahead of me. I hope I can put all that I learnt during my time in Oxford into practice to make a positive impact on society, and I’m excited for the future of a completely novel business world.