Young Enterprise Diary - Sessions 1 to 5

16th January 2017

Mark kept an activity diary while supporting St Bede’s Catholic College Young Enterprise group. Here’s his day by day account so far, of what has been an exciting and enlightening experience.


SESSION 1). Meet The Team

I start the day unsure on who would have more nerves and anticipation for what lies ahead, me or the group of young people I’m to advise? Hopefully we are all excited, though - I am for sure.

I arrive at the school and make my way to the reception area where I am greeted by both the teacher in charge of YE scheme and a pupil – one of my team – and gladly they are both happy that I came!

Once I get signed in and am handed my visitor badge, it is straight off to the 6th form block. On my way we pass the room in which my rival – in the friendliest possible terms – Rich Phillips, a fellow advisor, was with the other team from the school. I was already familiar with Rich and we had agreed there is nothing wrong with a friendly rivalry based on the perspective projects we are working on.

As I enter the room, I’m greeted by everyone in the ten person team and introduced by the teacher – I can see some are unsure, some excitable, but rather than stand in the classroom I decide to grab a chair and sit amongst them – I want to be part of the team straight away. I explain to everyone who I am, what I do and what I can bring to their newly formed business. This goes down well and then each introduces themselves and their role within the team – Admin, I.T., Marketing – they have all the bases covered, including the MD, who’s a top guy and has a handle on the whole team.

Discussions begin on the product for their fledgling business. Lots of ideas are passed around, with all settling in the end on a product based on drinks cup / snack holder combo. I love the idea and as our first meeting draws to an end – I feel very much part of the group.


SESSION 2). What’s Our Name?


With the ice broken on both sides, our second meeting is even better. The MD has an agenda – which is always a good idea – and each part of the business reports on tasks set. Lots of excitement and voices in the air as each try to put their point across, obviously not ordered in the way my own work meetings go, but I was growing to love the buzz of the whole team and the feeling generated by the vibrant discussions.

With a little interjection from me, the MD calls everyone to order. We talk some more about the product – the research that needs doing, the social media ideas and the accounts that need sorting. Everything is dutifully noted by admin team, but a hole in our operations, is that we have no company name! We can’t merely be ‘Team 2’ going forward, so I suggest we use this session to decide on a moniker, and get that underpinned with a logo. As I explained, this will only support and help drive our initiatives. I now feel very much part of the team – this is our business.

Getting back to the discussion, as our product is drinks based, that seemed the direction a name should go in. Lots of names are bandied around and then one of the admin team speaks, everyone stops – lightbulb moment. We love the idea and team “GULP” is born. I task the marketing guys to come up with some logo ideas and mail me. The meeting concludes and we feel we are on our way.


SESSION 3). Need Funds


Prior to our next meeting, and following some suggestions, I worked on the GULP logo ideas in readiness to present them to the team. They look good and I’m hoping my fellow team members agree.

Printed ideas in hand, I make my way to the school and enter the meeting room in full swing. Today’s topic? Raising further funds. As with all new YE teams, to get the projects off the ground, initially each of the students puts their own in (required by YE) and the group sets up a bank account. But to move the business on and grow, more funds are nearly always needed.

So the team formulate ideas on how to raise cash, settling on a joint effort with the rival team – a cake sale at the school, funded equally from each teams’ accounts – all logged of course!

Also, I find out that traditionally each YE team within the region are given the opportunity to raise even more funds by running their own stall at St Nicholas’s market in Bristol. The opportunity is on a Saturday only weeks from now. Thankfully, the team have ideas well underway, and following the drinks theme, propose the sale of personalised, Christmassy decorated mugs, with designs for coffee, tea and hot chocolate lovers. Each will also contain other goodies like candy canes, marshmallows, plus sachets of beverages, depending which mug was wanted by the customer. They are all to be handmade and decoratively wrapped on the day.

Discussing with the MD, we run through what we can tick off and what’s still needed; mugs sourced and bought, goodies and mug contents bought, pens / stencils done, wrapping sourced – all big ticks. And of course, they are all logged – got to keep those accounts in order.

The team and I settle on how to decorate the stall, and being a designer, this is right up my street. We’re ready to go after a discussion and agreement on the design which will adorn the receipts, pricelists, sales hand-outs and displays. The ideas are sent to me so I can tidy up design wise and print.


SESSSION 4). It’s Go, Go, Go


Armed with print outs aplenty, I arrive at the next meeting to a hive of activity; with mugs being decorated, social media ideas happening and sales records sheets being designed. I meet with the MD and show him our final handouts, pricelists and order forms – all branded, with even some stand-up display labels as an added surprise. I’ve organised a large canvas branded banner screaming the punch line – ‘Don’t Get Mugged Off This Christmas’ – a cheeky but on-brand strap line for the stall and what we’re selling. It goes down a treat with my fellow team mates, and that’s what we are now. It’s gratifying that I’m now very much a cog in our business.

The MD gives me four of the team and we get busy cutting, guillotining and gluing, with paper everywhere. Our displays, showing off decorated mugs, need making too, so the boxes the blank mugs came in now become three tired POS stands. There is one for each type (tea, coffee and choc), all decorated in Christmas paper and cotton wool snow – excellent!

With everything coming together we decide to work out the sales approach for the stall and everyone’s roles, but not before our social media team member spots a net-savvy method of sharing the story. He gets us to spell out GULP with the mugs on table tops. Picture taken and images shared on various platforms – great marketing guys!

And of course the new company logo – almost forgot! Big thumbs up there too. Can’t beat some nice branding.


SESSION 5). In The Market to Sell!


It’s the day of the YE teams’ fundraiser at the market and I’m excited to see how the stall looks. I am also intrigued to see how the team do in a customer facing / selling situation; something which is very alien to them all.

With the knowledge that the MD has everyone’s tasks in hand - who’s doing what and when, throughout the day - I arrive at St. Nick’s market and it’s already buzzing. It’s great to see all the stalls which the teams have set up, and it struck me that they are so diverse. A real treat to behold for sure. It feels very special for me personally, as its dawns on me that I’m a part of this, too.

On the way I bump into my friendly rival Rich, advisor to the other team and we both agree; it’s just a brilliant occasion and our teams have done so well - a real credit to the school – and we are as proud as we could be.

I make my way through the browsers, the potential customers and other teams taking part – it all looks great. Then I see our stall and wow, it is excellent, with all the team wearing fluffy Santa hats and school uniforms. It’s a top idea – formal and informal at the same time. Love it.

I approach the stall and there is certainly a buzz around. The team are being briefed by the MD on the day’s plans and he despatches three team members to various parts of the market to distribute our hand-outs and drum up some interest. I advise them to take wrapped mugs in order to show people what they get if they choose to buy. It turns out to be a decent idea, as someone comes over straight away and buys three mugs. I then talk to the admin team manning and selling on the stand, to find out they been up until the early hours, pre-decorating all the mugs due to lack of time at school – wow, there’s dedication and effort for you – I’m one proud business advisor!

As the day progresses and our stand does steady business, the regional YE judges make their way around each stall (I find out there’s even a YE secret shopper). Their job is to decide on the best dressed stall, best business practise and understanding of the process it took to get everything up and running. When they come to our stand, our MD, even though he’s nervous, sails through it, bringing a huge smile to my face and his.

Mug sales carry on well, with the team swapping roles regularly so all are learning a little of everything. Eventually stalls are asked to pack up ready for the judge’s decisions. As we wrap things up, it’s as a team, which I love, and even though GULP got some great feedback and top plaudits, there is disappointment at no prizes. But all of us know that we have made the business stronger and brought in some much needed funds. And as a team, we are tighter. Onwards and upwards with GULP.

 

For more information about Young Enterprise, please visit the Young Enterprise website.

 


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