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Never be frightened of things not working out: thoughts prompted by Young Enterprise

Yesterday I spent the day in Glasgow with a team of young people from Balerno High School here in Edinburgh . I had been working with them since October as their Business Advisor during their participation in the Young Enterprise Company Programme. They decided to establish and run a business selling fruit teas.

Young Enterprise has been operating in Scotland for 40 years this year. The main charity was set up 50 years ago. Over that time hundreds of thousands of young folk have had the opportunity to engage with one of the programmes they support. The Company Programme is also a competition. Each of the 16 regions in Scotland – from the northern Isles of Shetland and Orkney to the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway and from the Western Isles to the eastern most tip of the Scottish mainland – run a local competition for their competing companies. The winners from each region were there yesterday.

I arrived at the venue just before 11 and the tension in the air was almost tangible. Members of each company went through an interview in the morning and made a presentation in the afternoon. Their company report was also judged. Excitement was building.

At the gala dinner in the evening the awards were announced. There could only be one winner. Despite what was said about the other companies already being winners to allow them to be there there was no hiding the disappointment for those who had not won an award.

The organisers had arranged for Sir Tom Farmer to be the keynote speaker. As a very visible, successful local businessman in Edinburgh ( he was the founder of KwikFit)I have heard him speak many times. He tells his story well. As a Leith lad growing up in a loving family and not having any great academic achievement he went on to set up a highly successful business and earn millions doing so.

He then mentioned that as he was growing up the song “Que sera sera” was in the charts. Translated that means “what will be will be” and he said that that is not true – encouraging the young folk present to make things happen rather than let them happen to them.

And then he gave what I believe is the crucial additional piece of advice

…..never be frightened of things not working out…

I have been involved with Young Enterprise locally for 3 years now . Common stories from participating companies throughout the year include

  • having to deal with under performance of team members ( with resulting sackings where appropriate)
  • disagreeing on who leads or what roles each should hold
  • negotiating with suppliers – sometimes more successfully than others
  • dealing with poor quality items bought in good faith
  • having to change track part way through the programme when the product/service does not work out.

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