Budding entrepreneurs hope their careers take off

Andy Collard and Jess Widdowson

Andy Collard and Jess Widdowson

Two of our Level 3 Travel and Tourism students, Tia-Anna Rowland and Millie Letts, have the fantastic opportunity to take part in six entrepreneurship sessions with Andy Collard, Enterprise Coach at Sheffield Hallam University and Jess Widdowson, Enterprise Team Leader at Barnsley College.

The project will introduce them to the world of business, supporting them as they take the first steps in their careers, finding out more about the opportunities and challenges of self-employment. We asked them to keep us up-to-date with what they are doing during the sessions and they didn’t disappoint.

Read their accounts of how they got on – and we don’t have to say how proud we are of their hard work and dedication!

Session one:

Session one was about exploring enterprise and how everyone can be an entrepreneur if they put their mind to it by using their knowledge or passion to make money, seize opportunities, take risks and solve problems.

Tia-Anna said: “During the session I learnt that anything can be turned into a business idea from knitting to making soaps and jewellery. It made me think more of the things around me. In the future, I would love to have my own business, I find crafting things rather therapeutic and I would enjoy making jewellery or something similar.”

“Enterprise is all around us and most people will be successful if they get involved.”

Millie Letts added: “I enjoyed the first session it was something different which gave us the chance to explore new opportunities about the future or even to earn extra cash. Enterprise is all around us and most people will be successful if they get involved. I’m thinking about starting a business when I’m older to build upon and hopefully the sessions will help me with ideas whilst listening to inspiring stories from other people’s success.”

In session 2, the students will be delving into the world of business planning using a made up business. Keep an eye out for the latest on the next session.

Session two:

Andy Collard

Andy Collard

In session two students explored the concept of business planning and looked into using the four essential factors involved in marketing goods or services; the product (goods or service); the price (what the consumer pays); the place (the location where a product is marketed); and promotion (the advertising).

“This shows me that even the best ideas have a few faults and with hard work and dedication everything can work out to its best potential.”

Tia-Anna said: “I enjoyed how the session was interactive. Learning about Andy’s own enterprise experience, ideas and processes were rather intriguing. I liked how he showed us about different faults within his ideas and the little hiccups he faced. I loved how the session made us think and use our own ideas. It really challenged our minds. This shows me that even the best ideas have a few faults and with hard work and dedication everything can work out to its best potential.”

Millie added: “Session two was very interesting as it had information about a candle business which all stemmed from a few ideas and it showed how many ways your business can be expanded due to just making a few changes. Looking at the four Ps made us set a path out and linked to our business ideas to make sure we get the customers.”

In session three, the students will be working on an enterprising project. Keep an eye out for the latest on the next session.

Session three:

Jess Widdowson

Jess Widdowson

A completely interactive session whereby students got into groups (COVID-19-compliant) and picked a random object from around them. This object then had to be marketed as something that it wasn’t, no matter how whacky the idea.

The students had 45 minutes to create a concept, name and slogan. They were also tasked with creating a jingle or video advertisement.

Students came up with a range of ideas including a mask band (face covering that turns into a headband when you aren’t using it), a cinema sleeve (secret pocket you can attach to clothing that allows you to sneak sweet treats into the cinema) and wireless plug sockets (battery or solar powered 3-pin plug points so you can charge your gadgets on the go).

After the creative session, Jess delivered a short workshop to students and discussed the importance of identifying target markets when it comes to starting a business as well as becoming in-tune with their industry. Being able to identify gaps and opportunities in the market will allow for businesses to be on-trend and relatable when they first launch potentially leading to success. Jess also spoke about the importance of finding something that they are interested in and working in an industry that they are passionate about.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn about marketing and identifying opportunities in the market.”

Jess said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn about marketing, designing a product and identifying gaps and opportunities in the market. I really hope that they have been able to reflect on their own future careers and how they might be able to open a business in the future.”

In session four, the students will be working on customer and competitor profiling. Keep an eye out for the latest on the next session.

Session four:

In session four, students briefly touched on competitor profiling which involved gathering important data about the competition including their market position, market share, price, additional services, strengths and weaknesses.

Andy spoke about customer profiling as a way to create a portrait of their customers to help students make design decisions concerning their products. Customers are broken down into groups which share similar goals and characteristics.

Students collaborated to create a pitch for a candle company based in the Peak District. Using their experience and subject knowledge, they were able to design a pitch that would appeal to Peak District National Park visitors and local residents alike – capturing the spirit of adventure, the landscape and mindfulness. Alongside the workshops, the students have been developing their own ideas for businesses, including self-care pamper boxes, online tutoring, jewellery making, baking, and selling hot chocolate stirrers.

“They’re a really enterprising group with some fantastic ideas.”

Andy said: “They’re a really enterprising group with some fantastic ideas. It’s been great to see their business ideas take shape – and I know that some of these ideas will come to life!”

The Enterprise Skills Project has been working in partnership with the Barnsley College Enterprise Team and iTrust to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in Barnsley. The Enterprise Skills Project is a part of ScaleUp360, a European Regional Development Fund project to support entrepreneurship in the Sheffield City Region. The project runs until 2022.

In session five, the students will be pitching their ideas to Jess Widdowson. Keep an eye out for the latest on the final session.

Chalkboard with student's ideas

Chalkboard with student’s ideas

Session five:

Our last session of the year focused on delivering the perfect pitch; whether this be to investors, retailers, or clients, and our students were taught the importance of pitching and given the tools to succeed.

The session began with an in-depth look at what makes a good or bad pitch, including what to disclose about finances, company backgrounds and product profiles. Jess went into detail about how to promote oneself within a pitch. She described to students how they are their own brand and how their passion for the company and products, combined with exuding self-confidence, can win the room even if the product alone might not.

The students were then split into groups and given the task of pitching about one of three different businesses and products. They were given background information to be able to successfully pitch the product to an investor. Each group took it in turns to pitch, receiving detailed feedback from Jess and Andy. Their invaluable feedback expanded on the students’ learning and went on to teach them how to best present in a group situation, how to use statistics and industry knowledge to excite their audience, and how to turn a negative into a positive when asked a difficult question.

Jess closed the session by tasking the students to use their time off over the Christmas break to identify potential opportunities for their own businesses. In the New Year, the students will have the chance to apply for mentoring and grants to develop their ideas and may even have the opportunity to speak at the annual Enterprise Skills event where they could receive further mentoring and financial backing to develop their businesses.

“It has been a pleasure working with all the students and hearing their great ideas.”

Andy said: “It has been a pleasure working with all the students and hearing their great ideas. I always know that something good is going to come out of the session and I look forward to seeing how the students will develop their ideas in the New Year.”

Jess Widdowson

Jess Widdowson

Last updated: 14th December 2020

Originally posted on: 13th November 2020