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 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 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 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!


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.

Enterprising Educator- I’m new, where do I start?

no, not this type.

This post is aimed at those completely new to the Enterprising Educator Community (post 18). You can find the accompanying podcast to this post here.

How does one become an educator? I guess through a multitude of avenues is the short answer, some are former or current entrepreneurs, others may be educational practitioners or business mentors, indeed you can even study how to become Enterprise Educator through designated Postgraduate courses such as the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education MA led by Coventry University.

There are literally thousands of books to read, videos to watch, podcasts to listen, people to follow and organisations to engage with. This whistle-stop tour will give you a flavour of how to begin to immerse yourself within the community.

What should I read?

Wow, where to start. My advice would be to look at some books which focus on how to start a business.

They don’t necessarily tell us how to teach somebody to start a business, but I think before we can teach, we need to have some of the tools and techniques required that those aspiring business owners may require.

Three books I really enjoyed reading which gave me a great and differing insight into what a prospective business owner should consider include The Start Up Playbook (Sam Altman), The Start Up Owner’s Manual (Steve Blank) and The Lean Start Up (Eric Reis). Details of all can be found within my recommended reading list.

What should I listen to?

There are hundreds of brilliant podcasts which can be informative as well as entertaining.

Many of them are US based but two UK produced programmes I find valuable are The Disruptive Entrepreneur by Rob Moore and The Bottom Line by Evan Davies. Neither are particularly academic based podcasts but more focused around the principals, challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship. Both give the listener the opportunity to hear from others about their journeys, their mistakes and their successes. It’s easy and enjoyable mainly weekly listening.

You can find details on my recommended podcasts list.

Tell me a brilliant website to visit!

OK- visit Teaching Entrepreneurship. It’s a brilliant resource. From lesson plans to assessment ideas, classroom tools to insightful videos, it literally has it all. It’s a simple website to navigate through and led by a guy called Doan Winkel (US based). I would absolutely recommend looking at the site for ideas and inspiration.

What organisations and groups should I involve myself in?

In the UK there is an ever-growing number of organisations of which you can join / engage with to become more familiar with the community. Many of these provide fantastic resources that you can use within your classroom as well as opportunities to network with others. Some of the key organisations I would suggest becoming involved with would be:

Enterprise Educators UK – The UK’s leading independent membership network for enterprise educators.

Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs – A dedicated professional learning institute specialising in business enterprise and business support.

Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship – A network for people and organisations involved in small business and entrepreneurship research, policy, education, support and advice.

National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education – Supports higher education to build its entrepreneurial future. It believes innovative and inspiring activities led by enterprising staff create graduates equipped for an ever-changing world.

Research in Enterprise Education (REntEd)– Launched as a collaboration between the ISBE and EEUK (see links above) this Community of Interest group is intended to explicitly link together the research and practice arms of the EntEd discipline.

All these organisations have various ways in which you can engage from membership to fellowship depending on your level of experience.

Who to follow?

My final piece of advice is Twitter! I love Twitter, I love LinkedIn as well but for different reasons. The main benefit to Twitter in my view is that you can follow the conversation of the people that you wish. You can create a timeline of information from those who interest you and keep this specific and without distraction (if you use Twitter lists).

Over the last 12 months I have started to engage myself with the Enterprise Educators Community on Twitter. Its active, lively, disruptive and often people have very different views, which keeps things more interesting! The debate is far ranging and allows for healthy disagreement. There are hundreds of interesting people to follow however twelve who I would recommend following include:













Give these guys a follow, its an interesting conversation and one which will link you quickly to others to follow who can inspire.

So that’s it. My quick guide to how to get going, best of luck and remember- read, listen and engage.