My Enterprising Week 6- Welcome Back to School.

Having recharged the batteries over the summer, next week sees the start of a new academic year in most UK Universities.

I have had the pleasure to work with academics over the summer planning and preparing for another busy year of Young Enterprise Start Up Programme, and ill directly be supporting ten Universities over the coming nine months. This will culminate in one start up student business travelling to Athens to attend the European Enterprise Challenge 2020, and I cannot wait for this.

Its set to be an incredibly busy period but one which I am really looking forward to. One University that I am hoping to begin work with in the coming months is the brand-new University Academy 92, inspired by the Manchester United Class of 92 footballers. I had the pleasure of a tour this week and what an impressive venue, the facilities look fantastic, sadly I never got to meet the ex-captain of my football team Phil Neville, maybe later in the year!

The summer has been a busy period with me continuing to slowly but surely make pace with my master’s degree from Edinburgh Napier University, the summer saw me successfully complete the Leadership, Strategy and Innovation module so I am now living all things ‘emotional intelligence’! The next module is Business, Economics and Finance in a Global Economy so if macroeconomics is your thing please do shout up, I need the help.

Some interesting topics that I have spotted over the summer included a powerful report from the Education and Employers charity, highlighting the importance, and importantly defining what is meant by ‘meaningful encounters’ when discussing the young peoples encounters with the world of work. You can view the full report here, I found it interesting to try and gage the impact the programme I run is making on maximising the encounters which I try to provide students with. I think its always useful to continually self-evaluate your own work and impact.

You will know that I enjoy podcasts and I recently found one which I think you may like to listen to. It comes from a colleague I have worked with many times over several years from Liverpool John Moores University, Emma Robinson. It’s an enjoyable listen of the journey of LJMU’s ‘Centre for Entrepreneurship’ history, one, which in our own small way I like to think we assisted many years ago. Take a listen, it’s a fascinating 20-minute talk.

Some other interesting posts and articles that I have enjoyed over the summer include:

Finding Founder Fit- A blog post from Dave Jarman, an academic from Bristol University who has written an interesting piece about how founders of new business can often find themselves, following business pivots feeling they may no longer the best person to run the company they founded.

This I found interesting and it could be something you would like to read. It’s an expression that I have heard before, once the business (often through necessity) changes its position from its original conception the founder finds themselves questioning their future position. You can find the link here.

Dave, who I don’t know but follow on Twitter also tweeted from the recent #IEEC2019 something I really liked, I’ll leave it without comment but look below and let me know your thoughts. Let’s just say I think he has a point.

Entrepreneur Aimee Bateman produced an article I enjoyed reading ‘From Fundraising to Friendships’. If you are a would be founder, this is a great article to read. It talks about raising investment, losing friends and how founding isn’t always the best way to get rich. An honest and interesting read I would recommend to any student or potential founder looking to begin their entrepreneurial journey. You can find the link here.

Finally, best of luck to a fantastic student that I worked with during the last academic year- Shankar Jolata from Manchester Met University. Shankar was awarded Young Enterprise Start Up Student of the Year in 2019 and has now been shortlisted for IOEE Enterprising Learner of the Year hosted by the House of Lords on October 3rd. Best of luck Shankar, you deserve this!

Thanks for the support and keep up to date with my Enterprising journey throughout 2019/20.

My Enterprising Week 5- Welcome to Norway- Skål!

Waiting for the results to come in, at #JAEEC19, Oslo, Norway.

If you are wondering what ‘Skål’ means, it’s a toast, or cheers in Norwegian! I found myself saying this again and again over the last week as I spent a wonderful four days in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, as part of the Junior Achievement European Enterprise Challenge 2019, see #JAEEC19 on Twitter for a full list of posts.

What a fabulous time and I was hugely proud to assist the UK Young Enterprise representatives from University of Chester- The Goat Tree, a co-operative retailing Argon oil and setting up educational programmes within Morocco to help with Literacy and Numeracy.

The whole experience was truly memorable as I was able to spend time with students and educators from fifteen other European countries sharing ideas and knowledge around Enterprise Education. This time is invaluable, and I truly believe allows one to gain so much in a short period of time, just by having conversations and listening to how others approach their work.

The competing teams from around Europe for this years #JAEEC19

All the students from the competing teams around Europe I know will never forget this experience and we were able to spend time in fantastic venues such as BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo Science Park, Oslo City Hall and the most beautiful residential house I have perhaps ever visited Villa Smedbråten, home to one of the judges!

The team from the UK competed with huge amounts of passion and no shortage of skill and social innovation, indeed they came runner up in a Societal Sector Award, which from 17000 starting students back in September is some achievement. The overall winner however came from the host country of Norway- a company called Artifish, which is dedicated to improving the aquaculture industry. The company’s solution is based on the training of cleaner fish, using its own-designed training system EDDI (Educational Digital Intelligence) – take a look at the website and you can see the standard that was on show, really quite breath-taking!

Artifish from Norway, a worthy winner!

In summary, a wonderful few days in some beautiful settings with colleagues that although I see only once per year, we continue to build increasingly close connections whenever we have time together. I only wonder why some people see closer connectivity with Europe as something not to celebrate, by taking some time to spend with likeminded people from around the continent you appreciate just what being part of a wider European family is all about. Politics over…

A short video of some of what I enjoyed whilst in Oslo!

In other news since I last blogged, I was thrilled to see one of my favourite Universities for Enterprise, Manchester Met University heavily featured in a recent article within the Think Enterprise magazine produced by the Institute for Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.

This article discusses how the University through Enterprise Education, including much of the work I lead upon is developing Societal and Environmental Responsible Graduates. You can look at the full article here, but it re-emphasises that which I am currently studying myself that People and Planet are now truly as equal with Profit, and never has this been more apparent than by working with student entrepreneurs who continue to put Societal needs at the forefront of their start-ups.

An article by David Taylor of Manchester Met University features in the Think Enterprise Magazine, IOEE

I also noticed some interesting articles that you may want to read from both a student and enterprise educator perspective.

Firstly for students who have an entrepreneurially spirit and want to find out more about freelancing, take a look at the ‘Freelancing while you’re at University’ article from Freelance UK, I really enjoyed this simple article and there are some smart links that I think I should action myself, it talks about your personal website acting as a showcase!

For educators I return to one of my favourite sources of inspiration Teaching Entrepreneurship.org and their ‘Recommended Tools for Teaching Entrepreneurship’ article. I say this regularly, but the quality and quantity of the free content distributed by these guys I find superb. It could well be placed behind some form of paywall but its open and accessible, do visit if you get opportunity.

Finally a gentleman I follow on Twitter and I know from Enterprise Educating colleagues as a globally respected educator in the sector called Colin Jones has tweeted for others to contact him if they would like to contribute any thoughts to a forthcoming book he is writing ‘On becoming an Entrepreneurship Educator’. Of those who enjoy my blog I am sure this would be something you might be interested to find out more about.

Thanks for the support, please do share my blog if you find it interesting and for now- Skål!

My Enterprising Week 4- Ready, Set, MVP!

I took a break last week from writing as was keen to ensure that a new pilot project I have been working upon I was able to talk about in this week’s post. I am pleased that pilot has now been successfully completed.

Last week, at the University of Liverpool I completed my first full Minimal Viable Product (MVP) workshop with approx. 15 MSc International Students. I have been studying MVP for some time now and how it links within the Lean Start-up framework, however, until now had not had the opportunity to test this in a live environment within a University. I was thrilled to get this opportunity to work with such an inspired and wonderful set of students from every corner of the globe, it really was an International affair!

Students from University of Liverpool working on an MVP Workshop

I have been taking inspiration from several other Enterprise Educators globally around what can be realistically achieved in a short space of time and I have to say what occurred went beyond my wildest ambition.

The challenge I set both groups of students, six within each group was to come up with a form of business concept around the product of coffee, this could be a new coffee shop, blend or bean, whatever they wished, however it had to focus in some way around coffee. I used the coffee business for the simple reason its something we all know about, and I didn’t want to waste time that could be used generating the MVP with students overthinking the topic area, for this activity the topic area wasn’t really the driver. It was very much about the action and ‘doing’.

I gave them two hours to complete the challenge, some basic instruction upon how to use WordPress and the ask was that they must provide a basic functional website landing page which was live (this was important, we needed to press the all important publish button), all copy and imagery produced and embedded (royalty free of course), a form of data collection to find out the thoughts and feelings of potential customers and at least one social media channel connected, live and with a call to action.

The students really got into the swing of this very quickly with the help of some fantastic mentors I had working with them. What was produced in the two hours was terrific and it gave me great enthusiasm to run this session again with some small changes. With switched on, ambitious students the amount of work, from an absolute standing start that can be created in 2 hours is quite something. Look at one of the landing pages produced from a group, as I mention, these students had no idea what the challenge would be on arrival and indeed had never even met each other. I was really very impressed indeed. If you would like more information about this, do get in touch.

The key learning we looked at within this session was the premise around what an MVP is, and what it isn’t, the difference between MVP and Prototype and more broadly the sheer amount of work and speed of work that can be produced when all are pulling in the same direction with a clear objective.

Another interesting video I came across in the last week was tweeted by a gentleman called Martin Lackeus from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. I think I have mentioned following Martin in previous posts, you can follow @mlackeus its well worth doing so as he often brings valuable and interesting points to the table in all areas of Enterprise Education, I find many of them quite fascinating.

The video tweeted this week is called The Diamond: A definition framework for understanding what being entrepreneurial means. Have a look at this, my understanding is this is a beta test video so changes perhaps could still be made, but it’s a really very interesting piece of work. I really like this especially the area of entrepreneurial responsibility. It poses some questions for educators about if we perhaps sometimes over emphasise certain areas of Ented, I think I have been guilty of this myself; this video does give me another perspective about ensuring all sections of the ‘diamond’ are given adequate consideration.  

As so often I try and keep aware of courses that I see and hear about and this week was no exception. Through LinkedIn I was made aware of two courses that could be of interest to Enterprise Educators.

The first is a beginner’s course called; Empower every student with an inclusive classroom. This is part of the Microsoft Edu Community package of courses which is free to access and very short, its anticipated to be completed in approx. one hour. This course is designed for educators of all subject areas who want to empower students to utilise tools to unlock their full potential by addressing a diversity of needs. 

I’m quite impressed with the Microsoft Edu Community, it might be something you wish to get more involved within, if so, the link is here.

Another course which seems to be part of a much wider paid package I noticed from a trainer called Andrew Sillitoe. I don’t know much about Andrew aside from what I have read from his LinkedIn biography but a promotional video posted called ‘Live Your Vision- Improvement Goals’ essentially, what things you wish to fundamentally require or change to achieve your goals, did spark my imagination.

I would look at the video and see if this or any other areas of the larger project are of interest. I feel I am at a stage of my career where I am very much trying to align my own personal vision to allow me to reach my goals, so perhaps the video just hit home at a personal moment, but nevertheless I would be interested to know more about this, or indeed if anybody has completed any of Andrew’s online courses- do let me know.

Finally, before I go, an article which did make me smile. As a father to a three-year-old I know only too well the daily challenges that come with parenthood and watching your child make mistake after mistake but being able to actively observe that inherent drive to keep going until they get things right.

A really nice article published by Forbes this week was ‘A Toddler’s Guide to Entrepreneurship’, essentially the article looks at how many of the principles of entrepreneurship are simple enough for a toddler to understand. I especially liked the four areas whereby the author claims entrepreneurs and toddlers need to strike to succeed, these being; Be ready to Iterate fast, Learn from the Pain (so true), Have no fear and Use what you have. A wonderful little article that certainly made me smile!

Thanks for reading and see you all very soon.  

My Enterprising Week 3- Reflection and Observation

This week has been an opportunity, after the previous hectic fortnight to take in some reading and observation around my world of Enterprise Education.

Before I begin, and to blow my own trumpet, as somebody who hadn’t always fully excelled in academia, I was thrilled this week to receive my first ever Distinction within my MSc, Innovation Management Module.

I am studying this Degree with Edinburgh Napier University, and it was a massive boost to score 80% on this module, coupled with my previous module narrow miss of 69% (70% needed for Distinction, that’s so harsh isn’t it…) from New Venture Planning, this shows my marks are moving in the right direction. It was hugely satisfying to see this result, and the hard work is paying off, completing this Degree with a full-time job and young family hasn’t been easy!

Outside of my own personal work, I have mentioned in previous posts about some of the positive feedback which had come from the recent Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final which I project managed.

Some colleagues from attending institutes on Social Media this week posted pictures of feedback from their own students. This was wonderful to read, that the students value their work and efforts in such high regard. Its never easy working in education but this type of feedback does give you the belief that we do what we do for the right reasons. Look at the comments, how fantastic is that.

A hand written letter from student to a colleague I work alongside from Loughborough College following her Start-Up experience.
A note of thanks from a student at Grimsby Institute to their Ented teacher describing their Start-Up experience. The last sentence seems to sum it up for me.

There has also been this week several observations about opportunities for Entrepreneurial students to involve themselves with, I like to keep on top of these as its value added we can give to our students that we work with.

I often talk about trying to be ‘giving’ with the sharing of information. Look at the Twitter post from a gentleman called Juan Felipe Campos from UC Berkley who has provided a link to his own Google Drive folder of Start Up Resources. I think this is brilliant, it isn’t somebody packaging them up and trying to sell them, its simply the sharing of knowledge. You can find the direct links by checking Juan out on LinkedIn.

I am sure most people reading are fully versed with the Strategyzer website, you will know their love for all things Business Canvas and Lean Start Up. This week I noticed a nice simple table with their thoughts on the key differences between the Business Plan and Business Models. This snapshot is useful, and I think I will include it within a slide for an upcoming Ented session I am running with University of Liverpool MSc International students.

An interesting app which has been launched this week by Intrinsic EU. It claims to be the first European app ever to monitor the entrepreneurial mindset in higher education students, its now ready for testing. I had a quick look at this, and it may well be something you would like to find out more about. You can find more information below.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Another really fabulous website launch that Enterprise Educators and students should take a look at this week is Disciplined Entrepreneurship.com I am sure many of you will follow Bill Aulet and will have read his books, this website looks brilliant and will take me some time to run though, its packed with resource, frameworks and video content, its looks really very good indeed. Do take a visit, it could well enhance teaching and learning in the field.

In the spirit of sharing information, if you are a very early start-up or with an existing but not yet trading business there looks to be a great opportunity with Baldwins Kickstart Competition. There are prizes of several thousand pounds available to UK Start-up students aged 18-25. You have until August to get your application in, this could be hugely useful to share with students who you think could be at suitable and what a great financial incentive to move a business to its next level.

Finally, this week I follow a gentleman called Martin Lackeus closely on Twitter. Martin is a Researcher in Entrepreneurial Education at Chalmers University in Sweden. I love his tweets and he provided me with lots to think about. Have a look below at some of Martin’s comments regarding Intrepreneurship and the various definitions around this interesting topic. Intrepreneurship is an area I want to study further, as I believe the students, I am working with can develop this mindset via the programme I run. The definition, however, hasn’t always been easy to explain so I found this most interesting, there are also a selection of books to accompany if you have an interest in Intrepreneurship.

So, that’s my Enterprising Week. Its been enjoyable and always things to read, watch and visit. Thank you for continued support of the Blog. I look forward to writing every week and please do share the link with other educators and students that you think could benefit from hopefully, having a digestible, weekly update of just some of the things going on in the sector. See you next time.

My Enterprising Week 2- Days like this are why we do what we do.

Students from Liverpool Hope University attending Young Enterprise Start Up Final 2019
Video to accompany blog post.

Well this has been some week. Normally I wouldn’t overly focus on my own personal work as I want to share my thoughts on that which is going on around me, but this week I will concentrate the majority of my blog post on the Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final which I led on Wednesday.

I have worked on this project for several years and its sometimes been difficult as to bring Colleges and Universities on board with Enterprise Education. It takes time and perseverance to make the connection and embed our programme into curriculum areas. It also requires generating the confidence of tutors that you know what you are doing and can add value to their work.

This week I led an event at Chessington World of Adventures whereby students from all over the UK came together to compete for The Overall Start Up Company of the Year, and what a wonderful event it was. A company called The Goat Tree from University of Chester, a small co-operative selling Moroccan Argon oil and using profits to generate projects commissioning tutors to teacher traditional Berber women how to read and write were declared the winners, and will now go forward to compete against European counterparts next month in Oslo. What a story for that small group of two students- amazing!

Young Enterprise UK 2019 Start Up Winners- The Goat Tree from University of Chester

I have been with the Young Enterprise organisation for a long time; however those days do re-invigorate you and make you feel proud of your work, and that you genuinely are making a difference to young people. As well as the award winners its actually some of the personal stories you come across which make you feel very humble, and some of the feedback on social media post event makes you consider the journey of some of our students that perhaps have had challenging times. I hope the photographs and video gives you some idea of what I mean.

A Social Media post from a tutor at Grimsby Institute describing his feelings after watching his team perform.
A University of Bolton student describing how Ented has helped him improve his confidence

I haven’t had a great deal of time to do much reading over the last seven days, however, I have for some time been strongly pushing the notion that Enterprise Education doesn’t have to belong only within the Business School. I was really pleased this week to kick off a project which will formally start in September at the University of Liverpool, working through Ented to support Level 5 and 6 Psychology students. This coming year as well as many Business Schools ill also be working with Sports Science and Digital Media, alongside the Psychology School, so things do appear to be slowly turning and this is hugely encouraging.

Lecture one for a new ented project with University of Liverpool Psychology School

This feeling was further demonstrated by a report I saw from the ICA-Edu Colloquium 2019 entitled ‘Let the entrepreneurial genie out of the bottle! How will we stimulate the nascent entrepreneurial skills of our students?’. This again presses home that belief that ented is becoming a more University wide approach and not simply the domain of the Business School.

It probably wouldn’t be a normal week if I didn’t share some link from Teaching Entrepreneurship.org They produce such consistently good content and this week is no exception. Take a look at the article ‘Textbooks Don’t Work’, it builds on the foundation belief of David Goobler ‘for most students, we need to shift our focus from what it is we say to what it is they do.’  I couldn’t agree more with that statement, it’s a great article and well worth a read, do share your thoughts.

Finally, from me this week, a resource I really like Fiverr, has several new courses available for freelancers and entrepreneurs. These seem to have been very recently released so I plan to examine these in more detail over the coming weeks. Take a look on the link below:

So that’s it for this week, a lot of images, video and links to share with you. I hope you enjoyed reading and see you next week. Do give the post a share or like on Social Media, I do really appreciate the support and hope the content keeps you interested!

Andy

My Enterprising Week 1- Being Busy Doing the things you love.

Accompanying YouTube Video to this post

My Enterprising Week 1

When I began this blog, I wanted to as well as raising thoughts on different aspects of Enterprise Education and Entrepreneurship use my blog as an aid memoir for my own experiences. Do you ever have one of those weeks whereby you feel so much information has entered your brain? Its been an incredibly busy week, so here, in no real order are some of the things which I have noticed over the last seven days in the world of all thing’s Enterprise!

Firstly, last week I submitted my final report for the unit ‘Managing Innovation’ on my MSc Business and Entrepreneurship Degree with Edinburgh Napier University. I have really enjoyed the module and am hoping to score well; I will find out in just under three weeks’ time the results. My report looked at the innovative processes used by British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International in respect to the changing nature of tobacco consumption. It was interesting to study these two giant organisations and hope it will be enjoyable for my tutors to read.

I also had a trip to Chessington World of Adventures as part of my final preparations for an event I am running next week- the Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final- this should be great fun and there are Universities from all over the UK competing to reach the European Final later next month. Chessington have been great to work with and its an inspiring, different venue- something I am keen on for my events- quirky is good! I will post much more about this next week.

Chessington World of Adventures, venue for Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final

Possibly the highlight of my week however was attending a North West schools based enterprise event, although I have been part of literally hundreds of these, when you chat to the young people and they give you their account of how they feel from their involvement has benefited them through Ented it does make you reconfirm the reason why you continue to feel passionate about all of this. Take a listen to some inspiring students who are so passionate about their venture and what they have created, for 16 year old’s to do this, I find to be hugely rewarding.

Students talking about their Young Enterprise Experience at 2019 North West Company Programme Final at University of Lancaster

I also signed up to a couple of opportunities this week which are coming up over the next month- do have a look if they are something you would like to get involved with and both are free!

The first is an online webinar course to be held on 22nd May by the teachingentrepreneurship.org website. This is a virtual workshop regarding ‘4 steps to more engagement’ when teaching entrepreneurship. I really love this website, its so informative and innovative in its thinking- I am looking forward to hearing ideas that I can bring back into my teaching and delivery. You can sign up here if you would like to take part.

The second is an event taking place at University of Buckingham on 28th June- this is EntFest, part of the Peter Jones Foundation. I attended this last year and there were some great workshops and talks, I’ll look to get lots of footage to bring back to the site post event, maybe a picture with Mr Jones to boot! If you would like to attend the link is here.

Finally, three documents / articles to look out for that I found interesting:

Why Europe Matters- Young People’s Feelings about the future. This was an interesting study about those that had and had not partaken in Ented of various forms. One of the findings included those students who have participated in Ented had a better grasp of the advantages of European Integration and would be more willing to work abroad. Let’s hope those opportunities remain open to ALL the young people of Europe. You can see the full study report here.

Building on some of the thoughts I had in a recent post regarding social division within those students competing in Enterprise competitions, there was a respected paper released from the recent European Council Small Business and Entrepreneurship ‘How Social Origins Predict Individual Entrepreneurial Orientation’. You can see an overview of this paper below.

Finally, a tweet and story from FT journalist Sarah O’Connor with the title ‘Can we please stop with this notion that state school kids are being held back by their lack of polish and confidence’. I commented; I would love to hear your thoughts.

And breathe. See you next week.

Ps- if you are on Facebook the social media page for that is now up and running- take a look!

Who inspires you? From a Seth Godin fan.

I think no matter what sector we work within or enjoy being part of we always have people that inspire us.

I have people that I work with, that perhaps don’t know it themselves, but I look at as unofficial mentors, their words, actions and beliefs inspire me to do better and progress myself.

We can also now with the rise of the Internet and the numerous channels available for people to share news and content have those people who inspire us who we have not and may never meet. For me that person would be Seth Godin.

I imagine if you are reading this post and visiting my website you may well be aware of Seth Godin, if you are a student or very new to the sector and haven’t Seth is a 58 year old American author and business founder. The range of topics which he writes about is broad, from marketing and leadership to spreading ideas and adopting change. What makes his work so fantastic in my mind is the accessibility of it, the language is believable and understandable and not wrapped in academic speak which can sometimes be off-putting, this said when you read his work you feel you are being educated and that’s a nice thing to get from reading others thoughts.

I am going to add to my recommended books and podcasts some of his work that I really enjoy. Two books that are simply must reads if you are interested in business start up and entrepreneurship are Purple Cow and Unleashing the Ideavirus. Without giving too much away Purple Cow looks at how you can ensure your company is remarkable and not invisible, it makes you change your attitude to putting time and efforts into projects with are worth your time, not those that will stagnate. Unleashing the Ideavirus on the other hand focuses on the idea of existing consumers being the ultimate sales tool for your products and services rather than businesses spending time and resource selling to consumers. The classic C2C model of selling against B2C. Both are accessible reads and should be in your library.

I would also recommend checking out Akimbo, a weekly podcast delivered by Seth Godwin and Seth’s Blog, over 2 million words on this blog written over many, many years, certainly something to aspire to! I would love to know if any of you have read the latest book, This is Marketing, You can’t be seen until you learn to see. If you have read this and indeed have any thoughts, please let me know?

So that’s a short blog post from me, but taking inspiration from those you have never met, must surely be testament and proof of their effectiveness at promoting their message. If you are interested in the topic areas on my website take a look at all the links, you won’t be disappointed, and I hope he continues to inspire for many years to come.

Have you any thoughts on Seth Godwin and who inspires you?

Enterprise Competitions- Winners and Losers. I need some help.

Accompanying Podcast / YouTube Video

Competitions which ultimately provide a ‘winner’ have been a mainstay of Enterprise Education within the UK and further afield for many years. The premise being that the nature of competition will mimic the future world of the entrepreneur battling to get his or her concept to the front of the queue for consumers. If I win, people must love it!

But are competitions of this type fair? There is an argument to say that those who participate will benefit from the skills and experiences of others around them, that they will be motivated by the carrot of success and the ‘win’, that the motivation comes from the goal of success. However, for every winner of a competition there are of course those that don’t ‘win’, I don’t want to call them losers.  

The skills and experiences one can generate by being part of a competition has undoubted advantages, and to say that those that don’t win, haven’t learnt would be wrong. However, what is the impact on those non winners going forward? For those who don’t experience the glory of be named the winner can that experience have a negative impact and make those students feel less worthy or less likely to engage with Enterprise Education in the future? Could we be perversely be turning students away from enterprise and business start-up?

I work with a great many University students from a wide variety of backgrounds, many students coming from backgrounds where perhaps attending University isn’t the ‘norm’. For some of these students the way that competitions are often judged maybe through formal presentation or pitch, for those students from challenging upbringings their confidence can be a barrier to success, not their ideas.

If success is often determined through confidence, and that confidence has come from a person’s upbringing and previous positive experience, is the playing field level, within such competitions for those that haven’t had that luxury? Indeed, are we increasing the social divide by pitching students against each other when their journeys could be hugely different and reinforcing that which has gone before, again, thus further embedding the ‘winners’ versus the ‘losers’.

I don’t have the answer to this question.

I am actively looking at ways in which the competitions I manage consider the journey as well as the polished conclusion. I would be interested to hear other thoughts upon this, what can we do to make Enterprise competition a fairer space to all? I understand the realities are, life chances are very different, and indeed it’s not fair. To suggest we can change this path with a simple competition is probably naïve, however, I want to challenge myself to be creative and look for other ways to judge success.

This blog post could perhaps move into many areas, those such as University League Tables and other forms of listings or rank, but that’s for another day.

My goal is to get creative and find new ways in which my competitions consider the full journey rather than simply the end shiny polished performance. I think we have a duty to those students to do this. Can you help me?

MOOC’s for the Inquisitive Entrepreneur

There is little doubt that for many students the cost of education can be problematic. With course fees, accommodation and living costs amongst but a few factors to consider, many students will lean heavily on their Student Loans and numerous part time jobs to see themselves through University.

This blog post however will look at some organisations that I absolutely love, and the reason being they offer short specific courses created by Universities often at no cost at all. These courses are often referred to as MOOC’s or Massive Open Online Course for its full title.

What are the benefits of studying a MOOC? Well, there are literally hundreds of topics of which you can study, and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behaviours seem to be a very popular area, which is great if you are reading this blog!

The study is all completed online, and many are available for you to access at any time of your choosing. Others follow a more structured path and perhaps set specific tasks to complete on a week by week basis. As stated, MOOC’s tend to be free in terms of accessing the learning materials. Sometimes, if you want a statement of completion or participation of the learning there is a charge for this, however, this is optional if you wish to obtain this or not.

Many of the MOOC’s I have seen and studied are delivered by Universities from the UK and the wider world. This is also advantageous as a learner if studying via a University from outside the UK, its interesting to be able to see subtle differences in the learning and thinking of others. The courses are led by academics from the University provider and in my experience tend to last between 2-16 weeks in duration, study can be anything from around 2-10 hours per week depending on the course materials.

Open access learning has never been more obtainable and readily available for those who choose to engage. From its early ambition of providing ‘taster’ courses for those students looking to explore future learning options, it seems to me the MOOC is now tailored to students who want to further broaden their knowledge from alternative providers. The MOOC allows the inquisitive student to deep further into their specific area of interest. Indeed for non students the MOOC now appears to be an option favoured by employers as an option of CPD training for employees.

If you are studying or teaching Entrepreneurship in University, you can further develop your skills or just find out what is going on elsewhere by looking at some of the following providers and their courses:

FutureLearn

Offers a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life. Click on the image below to access free courses from FutureLearn.

FutureLearn Limited

There are a huge number of entrepreneurial related short courses, programmes and even a Degree ranging from topics such as Measuring Entrepreneurial Impact, Open Innovation and Teaching Entrepreneurial Thinking.

Coursera

100% online learning from the world’s best universities and companies. Over 140 courses from Beginner to Advanced level including Entrepreneurship, Innovation Management, Business Modelling and Product Development.

OpenLearn- Free Learning from the Open University

Several entrepreneurial courses available from Level 1 to Level 3 including Entrepreneurial Behaviours, Liquidity Management and Entrepreneurial Impression.

There are also many paid for providers where you can access quality online Entrepreneurship courses and these are certainly worth exploring, they include:

DisrupTek

DisrupTeK shows you how to grow your idea for a technological innovation into an entrepreneurial opportunity to be proud of.

Udemy

Over 100,000 online video courses with new additions published each month

Edx

Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.

So, there you go, a wide variety of resource available to the entrepreneurially inquisitive student. You may well know of others, if so, please do share.

Can MOOC’s replace traditional learning? In my mind the answer is no, standalone MOOC’s generally don’t provide the user with formal academic credits, so their use in this respect is limited. However a MOOC can be a great way to dig further into topic areas of entrepreneurship education that you enjoy and have interest in. A MOOC isn’t a replacement for traditional study, if this be online or offline, but it can be a useful additional tool to enable you to hear another voice and take on another opinion without eating up the limited student budget.

Entrepreneurial Students, Get Networking

You can find the accompanying podcast to this post here.

One of the most important pieces of advice I give to prospective student entrepreneurs is the importance of networking. For the young entrepreneur starting on their journey, the path can be somewhat lonely, especially if the early venture involves only themselves. Networking both online and offline can allow us to build the portfolio of people we know, who we can trust and who can help our business in the future. Don’t forget however, this ‘can they help’ should work both ways when building a successful relationship. How can you help them?

Having the correct relationships can allow you to build your business faster and in a more constructive manner. Finding the connection, however, is only the start of what networking is all about. It takes time to nurture and strengthen relationships so they can prosper and produce desired results.

For the would-be entrepreneur, especially if one is young the current network available may amount to friends and family, possibly academic tutors or those who you have worked with in part time positions. This is an excellent stating position and that trusted relationship you have with those people will likely allow you to gain access to additional networks through your original connections. Never be afraid to ask a trusted connection if they know somebody that could help or offer advice.

This said, to build a successful business requires much more expertise than is likely you will have immediate access to. Your network ideally should be full of experienced professionals and those beginning their journey who hold diverse units of knowledge and skills from various sectors. If you are running a retail coffee unit for example, we need more than people alongside us who love and live coffee!

Networks will take many forms, today we connect via social media to many thousands of people, however this network is very connection based rather than at any deeper level, so to build true relationships one must actively engage rather than simply observe. I use the LinkedIn platform to regularly to share my own thoughts and views, however, remember to engage with others is to show interest and begin to be part of new conversations, it is this engagement that will lead to trust, understanding and deepen business relationships.

To build local connections you can start with your own regional business community which depending on where you are based maybe established or fledging. Simple Google searches will allow you to find out locally what is going on in your area and how you can get involved. My experience is that established networking groups love ‘new blood’ and as the aspiring student entrepreneur your input is valued and respected often bringing new ideas to the table and being disruptive (nicely)!

The online community of entrepreneurs is growing month by month, it’s well worth looking into this world to find a community that you recognise and would like to be part of. To that end here are two organisations I would recommend exploring to find out about the online and offline opportunities that maybe available to you.

Start Up Grind

Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting more than 1,500,000 entrepreneurs in over 500 chapters. 

There are local UK chapters based out of Thames Valley, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Southampton, Wolverhampton, London, Bournemouth and Glasgow.

There isn’t a chapter in my home city of Liverpool- perhaps I should start one?


Europe Conference Start Up Grind

Creative Mornings

Creative Mornings is a free monthly breakfast lecture series, designed for creative communities. There are currently over 200 cities hosting these networking opportunities globally.

Locally within the UK you can get involved in cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Portsmouth and Sheffield.

Creative Mornings Summit

I hope this blog post has been useful and remember, its not how many connections you have which makes a successful network, its how well those connections are utilised, so always follow up on connections and keep engaging in conversation. A simple ‘nice to meet you’ or ‘thanks for your time’ by email / twitter etc may just be the start to a fruitful relationship. Be polite, be giving and build your network.