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Home > Life Stories > The Portfolio Entrepreneur - UK - 1

The Portfolio Entrepreneur - UK - 1

Mr C is a young man with great musical talent who came to the UK from Hong Kong to further his studies in music at a prestigious conservatoire. Mr C had good English language skills when he came to the UK as his education in Hong Kong was English-medium and feels that these skills are now of a very high standard, reflected by his post-graduate qualification. He is also fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

He says that although there is some promotion of ‘portfolio careers’ within music education there is very little directing students from such creative courses into portfolio entrepreneurship. He feels that entrepreneurship is something that he did not necessarily desire while studying but experience has shown him it is the best way to develop a satisfying career. He noted that for graduates like him, who wish to keep open the option of performance at a high level entrepreneurship offers the best route to developing a portfolio of activities; he pointed out that most music students want ideally either to teach or to perform (which encompasses composition) and these are activities that fit well with self-employment and self-promotion. He could have chosen teaching but did not, as he found in order to earn sufficient money to live reasonably it left no room for the practice time required for performing.  

Mr C is very determined that the types of entrepreneurial activity he is engaged in allow a range of opportunities to develop that can support his longer-term goals as well as providing for short and medium term needs and to support his aim to balance the competing needs of his life for practice and performance alongside enterprising activities.

Mr C finds that the common idea of what an entrepreneur is does not fit what he does, or indeed what other entrepreneurs that he knows do. He is not a natural risk taker, he started out carefully, he had only time to lose but even so he was cautious. A ‘spare room business’, with no real losses except time if things did not work out as planned. The vision provided by television is something he sees as alien to successful business; ruthlessness, selfishness, greed and risk-taking are not attributes Mr C sees as common amongst successful entrepreneurs. Mr C notes that many of his entrepreneurial activities have ‘just happened’, such as starting a music agency when he was approaching the end of his post-graduate studies, with no initial intention of there being a ‘proper’ business but rather there being a way of fulfilling a need he and his fellow students had for such a service. Indeed, Mr C describes his businesses as being made up of things he enjoys doing.Mr C had his music skills, excellent language skills and an open attitude towards accepting and developing opportunities and applied these to developing a business that made good use of them.

Mr C has several strands to his entrepreneurship. The main areas are a networking group for the creative industries and providing advice for businesses seeking to trade (export / import) with Chinese companies or to sell services to the Chinese community in the UK. He was also able to make use of a range of business support networks, both government and private as well as developing informal, open networks. As all of the elements of his businesses initially involved mainly intellectual capital Mr C feels that he has had many opportunities to try things out, to see if they work and then try something new, or to begin one way and then to start again another. This type of freedom is something he is convinced is not common in starting in Hong Kong where the community is relatively small and there would be shame in failing, or even in changing your approach radically. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.