“The experience was invaluable for me as part of my early career, opening my eyes to the different routes I could take after education. The process taught me that I has a real passion for business and as a result sparked the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, launching my first business a year after.”
Can you tell us a bit about your experience of Company Programme – when and where did you take part and what was the business you created?
I took part in the Young Enterprise company programme during Year 9 whilst studying at Warden Park Academy. Our team launched a company called Abstract Accessories, upcycling board games pieces and manufacturing them into jewellery, including rings, leather bracelets and necklaces. The experience was invaluable for me as part of my early career, giving me real world experience of business and opening my eyes to the different routes I could take after education. The programme allowed me to develop and discover skills that I would not have otherwise realised that I had or that I needed until leaving education – allowing me to contribute these to my YE team and become a valued asset.
What were the most enjoyable parts of the process for you?
There were many elements of the process that I enjoyed, firstly having the opportunity to manufacture a product based on our ideas and then sell it to real customers and receive feedback. I really enjoyed having exposure and gaining an understanding of what would be involved with setting up and working in a company, as well as learning how to work in a team and bounce ideas off each other. The process for me was very rewarding, being able to create a tangible product and business identity that I could represent and be proud of when selling to the consumers at trade fairs and online.
Were there any real challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the first challenges we had to overcome was when our Manging Director left the team and joined another a week before we needed to decide on our product. At that point I stepped in as the Managing Director and had the challenge of bringing the team together and back on track, adopting the idea of one of our designers as our chosen product offering. After taking over as MD, I was faced with the challenge of managing a group and identifying talent to utilise in appropriate departments. There were also challenges of delegating and assigning tasks to those in the team who were genuinely willing to contribute value and do the job properly – then rewarding them accordingly.
What do you think you learnt about yourself? Were there any particular skills you developed?
This Young Enterprise programme taught me about the key fundamentals when it comes to starting and developing a business – having the opportunity to take an idea, bring it to life and sell it to real customers. I was able to develop skills like team work and time management, which were all valuable as part of working in a Young Enterprise team. This process taught me that I had a real passion for business and as a result sparked the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, launching my first business the year after.
What did you learn about business and the world of work?
There were many lessons I learnt from this process, with early on realising that it is very important to have the right, passionate people in your team, otherwise there would be conflict and the company wouldn’t be working at it’s full potential. This lesson can also be relatable when it comes to the world of work and life itself – If you surround yourself with fixed mindset/negative people you aren’t going to progress like you would with growth mindset/positive people. As well as this, the process helped me understand the different departments and areas of business I enjoyed working in, as at the end of the day, wherever you go after education, you will be working in some form of business. Following on from this, if you can understand how all the different departments/areas work in synergy to create a successful company – it will allow you to do your job role better and have a positive effect on yourself and the other departments in the company.
Did your experience of Company Programme and the skills you developed benefit you in your career?
Yes, with the year following the Company Programme, I launched my first business, Kart Kompany Ltd. I was able to utilise my learning and exposure I got from YE into bringing my own idea to market, which continues to operate today alongside other ventures. The programme taught me valuable lessons about myself, what to do and what not to do when starting a company and allowed me to get an insight into a career that I later followed after education.
What advice would you give to students taking part in Company Programme?
Definitely make the most of every opportunity presented to you in the process and try to get an understanding of every element of the business process. Speak and interact to as many stakeholders as possible, learn from advisors expertise and start building your network – taking as much value as you can from the experience. Get as involved as you can and show your worth in the team, as this programme is a very rare opportunity that could help you in your future career.