YOUNG ENTERPRISE COMPANY PROGRAMME
Developing Business Skills In Young Adults
Posted by Andrew Spencer on 23/04/2012
I thought it was time to talk about another of my voluntary interests - Young Enterprise - as the programme I am involved in reaches its annual climax. To quote Young Enterprise: ''Founded in 1963, Young Enterprise is the UK's leading business and enterprise education charity.''
keyboard rings - just one of the innovative ideas the Oused Again team have developed
For the last 2 academic years, I have been a Business Advisor in YE's Company Programme at Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell. The Company Programme is aimed at 15-19 year olds; in the case of Ousedale, it is Year 12, ie 16-17 year olds. It gives students the opportunity to set up and run their own real Company over the course of a year. My role is to advise the company's Directors on how to run their business - I do not dictate to the students and I take no decisions for them.
The companies they set up are as real as possible. They appoint directors such as MD, FD, and HRD. They use real money; they have bank accounts with HSBC Bank and they pay VAT and corporation tax.
They have to decide what they are going to produce, prepare business plans or at least plan the cost of production, raise shareholder funds and other capital in order to start manufacture. They have to market and sell their products to the public. They hold Board meetings with the Business Advisor present, create Agendas, minute the meetings and so on.
The Company I am advising this year is Oused Again. They "make products you want, from what you don't". In other words - and as their name implies - they are busy recycling various things into products. They manufacture using vinyl records, sim cards, Lego, computer boards, keyboard keys: have a look here. I particularly like the cake stand made from vinyl records and the keyboard key rings. Both sell very well. The key rings such as Help, Wake Up, Delete and Esc are particularly popular.
How are they getting on? This Programme is a competition. Oused Again are part of Milton Keynes' YE and have been judged on a wide range of criteria at three key points:
The MK Young Enterprise Trade fair, held at Centre: MK
Company Report, very similar to an Enterprise's Annual Report
A Presentation to the judges, peers, Advisors, Link Teachers and some parents at the MK Final - a daunting audience of around 150 people.
The good news is that they won 4 awards and were the runners up (there were 15 companies at the Final). They won the same number of awards as the winner. As runners up, they go forward to the Buckinghamshire Final in May 2012, where the judging starts all over again (same three points and the same criteria). Obviously the game has stepped up a notch as they are up against 11 other winners from across the county!
What do the students get out of this process? They obviously learn a huge amount about business. Both years the first set of questions have been in relation to shares; what are they, how do they work and the next ones are about making profit, what they get out of it by being shareholders. employees etc. Then, of course, what to do/make ...
They learn about Corporate processes, finance/accounting, building websites, setting up social media marketing, selling face to face to the public, developing product ideas, prototypes and mass production.
Above all they learn about teamwork. For this age group it is their first experience of working as a team, and for MDs the first experience of leading a team. Not all go the distance; Oused Again has had 3 MDs and lost 3 out of 13 original members. The remaining 10 still constitutes a large group. Last year's company finished up with 6 members. To succeed they have to pull together as a team.
The whole process is extremely rewarding for the Business Advisor. I have learnt a lot from working in the Programme, particularly from the early stages of each year when the emphasis is on helping them get started, providing the tools from which they can develop the business. Working with 16-17 year olds is a new experience!
Anyway, let's see what happens on May 11th at the County final. Will they get through to the South East final? Watch this space!
Until next time ...
During Andrew's extensive business career he has worked in a wide cross section of companies, specialising in the creation of contact centres and business systems, software development, telecommunications and project management. Andrew's key skills are:
Business planning and strategy
Matching technology to business needs
Software development and implementation
Designing and implementing business systems
His work has included sourcing and implementing a new integrated telecoms system for National Energy Services, designing and project managing a new IT and telephony structure for the Greyhound Racing Association, and directing technology development for Wembley plc.