How business school introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship |

How business school introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship

By Niamh Ollerton

Updated Updated

Eloise Skinner is an entrepreneur, author of two books, existential therapist and founder of two businesses: One Typical Day (an ed-tech start-up), and The Purpose Workshop (a social impact consultancy).   

Eloise is driven by the idea of integration - the power of bringing together all aspects of work and life; to live fully, with intention, integrity and purpose. 

TopMBA spoke with Eloise to discuss lifelong learning, the power of integration and why social impact businesses are important today. 

Finding purpose 

Growing up on a council estate in East London, Eloise later studied law at Cambridge University and then went onto Oxford University Business School, completing her course in 2021. 

While training as a corporate lawyer at university, she says she always had lots of passions and so struggled with the idea of a single career path for life.  

Eloise said: “I’ve always been a big believer in the transformative power of education – and I don’t think this should stop at undergraduate level. 

“Postgraduate education has a hugely important role in shaping and accelerating personal and professional development. For me, learning at business school was a fantastic introduction to the world of entrepreneurship. It gave me a broad knowledge of the sector and set me up with the awareness and connections to hit the ground running.” 

Eloise says developing a sense of curiosity is one of the most important skills she brought away from her education. She said: “Business and law school taught me that there’s always so much more to learn – and it taught me to embrace that perspective as part of a lifelong journey.” 

And so, continuing with the notion of curiosity and lifelong learning, Eloise has some advice for prospective business school students. 

“Social impact and purpose-orientated business is a big trend, and it’s having a significant impact across a range of industries. 

“I’d encourage future MBA and EMBA students to figure out their own sense of professional purpose, and then assess potential employers according to this standard,” she said. 

Building on business ideas 

In early 2021 Eloise left her job to start her own businesses. 

As an owner Eloise admits it can be extremely demanding and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed juggling businesses.  

She said: “Luckily, I have a supportive team on both businesses, so I can delegate and prioritise with their assistance. One of the most difficult aspects is figuring out where it’s most productive to place my attention. There’s so much to do that it gets difficult to figure out the most logical next step! But this is all part of the journey of learning as a founder, so I’m trying to embrace it.” 

But how did she come up with the idea for her businesses? 

The Purpose Workshop was a development from her recent book The Purpose Handbook, which she described as being “about finding your feet in the world, regardless of background, age or previous experience”. The business’s singular focus is to help you redesign your life and navigate a sense of purpose. 

She said: “As I was teaching the concepts from the book (which draw on my training in existential analysis), I could see there was an opportunity to formalise and scale the resources. 

“I started with a basic online course and expanded into downloadable resources and one-on-one consultancy. We’re a social impact business, which means – for us – we reinvest profits back into free resources for schools and students.” 

One Typical Day is a digital platform for careers content, working with graduate recruiters to showcase their content to a highly targeted network of students. 

Eloise says the idea for it came from listening closely to her audience – mostly young professionals – over the last decade. 

She said: “I’ve been in the content creation industry for a long time (as a writer, author and digital creator), and I could see which resources students immediately connected to. I noticed a gap in the market, and I started to explore different alternatives to fix it.” 

The importance of integration 

Eloise thinks of ‘integration’ as a position in which all aspects of your life are blended and focused. 

She said: “You know what you’re here to do, and you know who you are. Everything else can follow from this stable foundation.” 

“Individuals can see integration as a part of their personal wellness or self-development practice: it’s a movement towards feeling more fulfilled and connected. For businesses, it helps to think of integration as something that results when every business decision is aligned with the overarching mission or corporate purpose.” 

According to Eloise, businesses should align their mission statement with their practical actions and reputation in the world. She added: “An integrated business (in this sense) is one that reflects the same core values or intentions both internally and externally, and in practice as well as theoretically.” 

Eloise believes spirituality is important for businesses and individuals – but admits it depends on your definition of spirituality. 

She said: “It might not look like a formal religious practice or faith affiliation, but spirituality is often found in connection to ‘something greater’ than ourselves. 

“For many people, spirituality can be as simple as reorientating perspectives outwards: caring for the environment, or for others, or giving back to the world in some way – these are all examples of spiritual connection in practice.” 

Advice to budding entrepreneurs 

Eloise advises prospective entrepreneurs take it slowly and one day at a time. 

She said: “It’s tempting to rush the entrepreneurial journey, and it’s especially tempting when you have a big vision or ambitious goals.  But it takes time to develop good foundations for future growth. 

“I’d encourage early-stage founders to take more enjoyment in the process of building. Spend the time you need to get the structure right. And then start to build, one step at a time!” 

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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