Time flies so fast! It has been almost a year that I started the entrepreneurship in action module, and it is bound to finish. Through this innovative program, I keep good and bad souvenirs but I have developed a wide range of knowledge and skills anyway. Actually, I did not realise it, but when I wrote down the list of all the knowledge I have acquired through the year, I was really surprised and so satisfied.
Indeed, I have been able to expand my general knowledge related to entrepreneurship, meet new people (the mace students), open my mind, improve myself as a person and create a small business with students from other backgrounds.
In this essay, I will present and discuss in a chronological order everything I have learnt in the module. Then I will finish by my personal feeling related to the module and I will conclude and present my future expectations after the university.
The first day, I have discovered the customer needs model. This model is about knowing the three basics component that a product has to fulfil to meet the basic customer’s expectation (cognitive, emotional, and physical).
Then, during the same day, I have learnt the importance of observing my environment to be able to identify gaps and fill them with entrepreneurship.
As a classmate of mine from MACE class said: “In general for a practical project, people have to gather and do researches via observation, interviewing, create the scenario or using any methods, in order to collect as much details as possible. Moreover, after conceiving the relationships between each element, this principle will provide the analysis processes as a framework to guide through the user experience”. (Kanin, 2011)
Then, with the “shoes experiment”, we had to ask feedback to people randomly to know what they thought about their shoes and then create our own pair of shoes to respond to the feedback we had from the university students and staff.
This shoe’s experiment was going to be useful after because we had to use it again when we have worked on the Yammy concept to ask mothers what they thought about our product and concept. As a result, it definitely helped us to improve the Yammy plate (choice of material, of design,…)
Collecting and using efficiently feedback can be a powerful tool for strengthening a brand and the credibility with customers (Chris Birk, 2012). That is why it is highly encouraged to develop a strategy to collect feedback from customer. The business should even reward customer to have feedback with is a precious information to improve the quality of a service or a product and gain a competitive advantage (Chris Birk, 2012). The first thing entrepreneurs should do before opening their business is speaking with potential customer to exactly know what their expectations are in order to fit them (Carol Tice, 2012). To sum up, seeking for customer feedback is a kind of small market survey.
Moreover, during this class, I had the opportunity to work with international students as well as creative students, which was a discovery for me. Working with international students is an advantage due to the fact that it opens the mind to different views and ways to operate in a business. But, at the same time, it has several issues: the language barrier, different communication style and different views of hierarchy (unknown, 2012). If the international team is not well-managed, it will lead to conflict.
That is another teaching of this module for business people. I officially opened myself to a new world: the creative world (with the FRIEZE fair) and then became more creative.
Furthermore, I made the choice of being in a group with creative people to enhance my learning in this field. I used to regret this choice but, after having thought about it, it is something which was beneficial for me in a lot of ways. Creativity is really important in business. Businessmen do not like the term creativity due to the fact that they perceive it as expenditure and not as revenue. Creativity can be assimilated as innovation. No creativity = no innovation = stagnation (Mark Batey, 2011). In fact, creativity helps companies to generate a competitive advantage by developing new solutions for customers. Therefore, it helps the company to gain market shares and earn more money so I would conclude by stating that creativity is an investment and not an unrecovered cost.
I had to rediscover the basics of marketing, branding and accounting, which are three areas that an entrepreneur has to feel confident with. Otherwise it will be hard for the start-up to perform in the future.
The business model CANVAS was a really good learning from this module because it is a visual aid which gives to entrepreneurs a framework to represent the business cycle from the idea generation to the delivery of the service to the customer through all the possible partners. Also, it is often categorized as a business model innovation which will create, capture and deliver value to the customer (Alexander Osterwalder, 2009)
I have started the young enterprise experience by taking the sales manager responsibility. As my previous experience used to be in this field, and in accordance with my team members, I have chosen to pursue in this field. Over the experience, I have helped the company developing strategies to improve sales, Even if we did not put all the strategies into action, I have brought something to my team members as well as they bought something to me. We have decided to sell the product online and thanks to the word on mouth (which is completely free and was really efficient for Yammy).
During the Yammy experience, the research of the production method was a central question for the team. Despite some tensions and disagreements about the method, we have been able to agree on a safe and cost efficient way by producing the Yammy plates ourselves.
As I have said before, managing conflict was a big issue in the team. It was really stressful, but when it is time to analyse what had happened, it was not a really big deal in fact.
First of all, it is important to identify the origins of the conflicts: usually, conflicts are the resultant of four reasons: poor communication, insufficient resources, values or opinions clashes and leadership problem. (Carter McNamara, 2012). In my view, we had all of them in our group. But at the same time, conflicts are inevitable and even necessary within a team to improve the performance of a group (Carter McNamara, 2012). To go over conflicts, team members have to review their job description, improve their relationships with their colleagues, attend trainings, organise their tasks together, organise regular meetings and give the opportunity to employees to give suggestions (Carter McNamara, 2012). The manager should take this responsibility over to ensure an efficient teamwork.
The main problem was the high expenditure due to the research of the best production method which has leaded to a loss at the end of the experience. When a company is at a start-up stage, it has to be really careful with the money and wait before investing massive amount of money.
Also, I have learnt about social media platforms management. I have discovered how to use face book in a professional way, twitter, pinterest and blog management. Social media platforms are a really good tool for businesses because it improves the awareness of a product or a company on the Internet, can be used for promotion or identify new customer product or service opportunities (Jeff Bullas, 2011). Moreover, social media are usually free or inexpensive and are fast growing trend within the society.
Even if I was specialised in sales management before starting the course, I have learnt new ways to operate. I was able to open and run an online selling platform (eBay), we discovered fair trades, which were in my view the best way to sell our product efficiently because of the contact between the customer and seller.
This experience enhanced my writing and speaking skills. We have seen in the module how to write and promote a feasibility study and a business plan, which are unavoidable steps due to the fact that it is necessary to obtain funds to start the business and to create awareness.
Then, the Yammy team has made a lot of presentations in front of the other module members and also in front of juries (dragon’s den and final assessment) related to the Yammy plate.
It is something that students do not realise at this stage but being good at presenting is one of the best entrepreneurial quality ever because showing off good communication’s skills and personal attributes influence business angels, customers and all types of investor decision-making whether they will invest in your business or not (Colin Clark, 2008). Some people invest massive fortune in slow-growing product just because they feel an affection regarding to the product or business.
To conclude this essay, I would like to say that the overall experience was satisfactory. I have acquired knowledge and skills which will help me in my future experience as well as improving myself as a person. For instance, I was not confident about networking in a professional way but now I feel better in this way. In addition, I was able to put my skills into practice, something that I really appreciated through this year and which is better in a subject like entrepreneurship because it makes the learning more efficient.
On the other hand, I have the feeling that it was a failure due to the fact that our business did not have the expected success. But at the same time, this empirical experience can help us in the future to learn from our mistakes to improve and reach a perfection level in the future.
I will finish about my future; this module definitely helped me to have a clearer view about what I will do after my master and in the next 5 years. Now I can say that I am 100% sure to launch my own business in the future. It is a matter of time, experience and money. I intend to work before in order to gain some experience to learn and also to raise a minimum capital to invest in a future business. Also, it is about having the suitable personality. To start, manage and expand a business, qualities like self-esteem, self management and responsible are essential to be a good and successful leader (Joanne, 2011). But personally, I will choose my partner and the field of the business more carefully (with serious studies of the environment and the potential customers). To conclude this year, I would say that my definition of entrepreneurship is about bringing solutions to customers’ needs, with limited resources in a creative and innovative way to always make the difference.
Kanin, (2011), HCD: Human centred design
Chris Birk (2012), Want to Boost Conversions? Promote Positive Customer Feedback
Carol Tice (2012), the One Simple Task That Will Help Your Startup Succeed
Unknown (2012), Teamwork & Communication Challenges Within Multicultural Teams
Mark Batey (2011), Creativity = Competitive Advantage?
Alexander Osterwalder (2009), Book promotion page
Carter McNamara (2012), How to deal with conflict
Jeff Bullas (2011), 12 Major Business Benefits Of The Social Media Revolution
Colin Clark (2008), The impact of entrepreneurs’ oral ‘pitch’ presentation skills on business angels’ initial screening investment decisions – Abstract.
Joanne (2011), 3 personal qualities that are the foundation of success
About vincent0801Student at Kingston University for a master in "International Business with Entrepreneurship", I created this blog for the entrepreneurship class in order to share my assignments with my teacher and my classmates.
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It is not easy to understand certain things until you really undergo it. Entrepreneurship is one such thing. Understanding business is not an easy task. May be education and reading about it develops your knowledge but you will never learn until you run one of your own. I gained such a wonderful experience of running a business and gaining knowledge through this course.
Learning and applying:
Being a student from Business Management for me Entrepreneurship was a testing ground to try every principles of Management I learnt in my other modules. My learning gave me a guided approach towards business. The financial resource management and marketing were two major subjects which I put into test in the entrepreneurship. The course being very practical and the investment amount being minimal it gave me courage to try new things, as the risk is minimal. Apart from this the class room group were more useful in gaining knowledge.
An effective class room structure:
Sharing the class room with the Creative economy students was an added advantage to this course. Being a Management student it was very interesting to see students developing new innovative products. The class room itself became a forum for variety of businesses. So this provided the opportunity to learn mutually from other business. As everybody shared the same class room it was an opportunity to see everybody’s ideas transforming into products and becoming a reality. Apart from that this experience also gave an insight of demand based products in the society. It was interesting to see products with less manufacturing cost gain demand and profit from sales. Though each of the group was competitors, we gained more knowledge through sharing the experiences and seeing each other’s business experiences. I personally feel that the blend of the creative economy students with management students is a right blend to develop new businesses.
Blogging is another new experience which I gained through this course. I never had the previous experience of writing an open professional blog .This has helped me develop my writing skills. Apart from that the blog writing has enhanced my thought processes. The ideas and thoughts which are conceived in mind are developed when we write it out. Moreover I believe that this blogging experience would stay as a document of my first business experience.
Above all the most I gained is my personality development. This course has helped me develop my confidence and communication skills. The opportunity to meet different people develops one’s character and behaviour. The market sales experience helped me reach out to different type of customer’s .A true entrepreneur is one who is able to convince others about his idea. In that way communication plays a major role(Sai,2011). I took use of the opportunity to speak to as many customers I could reach.
Working on Ideas:
Businesses always are born on ideas. As a student interested in management naturally I was always interested in knowing the business models and the functional advantage of businesses. Despite this running my own business has always been an idea at a distant. But having this experience of running your own business it has triggered me to work on any business idea and do a feasibility study. Feasibility study for any business is crucial and this entrepreneurship experience has given a wide lesson on that area.
A new innovative idea in any existing business can make a wide change. This can be seen in history in development of new products(Ellie,2012) Most products now available in the market are part of evolution than stating it as new development. They evolve from the existing product or can be a merger or two or three existing ideas or placing one idea at new place or replacing the existing idea with others. Development of Dyson Vacuum cleaners can be an example. But for all these the essential thing that is required is to develop your ideas and to work on demands.
Demands are mostly hidden and until a product comes into existence certain demands can never be realised. Until iphones were released we never realised that a cell phone would replace laptops. This entrepreneurship experience helps me realise that.
Managing your money
For any business to run successfully managing the cash flow is very crucial. The cash flow forecast is very necessary to determine the company’s performance .This also helps to develop the business model. Pre determining of such factors is essential for any successful business. I gained the experience of developing the business revenue model, finance model and do the cash flow analysis. Determining the revenue model and counter checking the model at the end of the business was very practical and helped to know about the factors which shouldn’t be pre determined and factors which are independent of time.(Sai,2011)
Pricing your product is a critical factor for your products success. Any product which is over charged might lose its customers. And its the same when it comes to the case of under charging the product. The danger in under charging the product is that the product loses it prestige and people start doubting the quality of the product. This might contradict with the sales offers which come up at very reduced price and attract large number of people(sai,2011). The reason behind that success is that these products have once proved that they are of high cost and having a lessened price would attract more customers .The major pricing factors are determined using the manufacturing cost,competeitor,supplier(Sharan,2001)
1. Manufacturing Cost:The first way to determine the basic pricing is to determine the cost involved in manufacturing. By not taking this in to account, any product under sold this price would end up in loss. This should be set as the minimum price for any product.
2. Competitor pricing:Competitor pricing is another crucial factor. At most cases many seller will avoid selling under the manufacturing price. And analyzing the competitor pricing is also one way to understand the markets.
3. Demand based pricing:Pricing factor most commonly depends on the demand. The demand can be studied by market surveys and questioners. Apart from that we can determine the demand by learning the sales volume of the competitor products.
Pitching one’s own idea plays an important role grabbing others attention on the business. The workshop on Business pitching helped develop my ideas and post it in a way the key factors are communicated .I also learnt that the key factors are not only important it is also crucial to post it a very innovative and engaging way. The dragons den experience was a good experience.There are three models in business pitching. They are Murder Investigation Strategy, Slowly, Slowly Catchy Monkey and Middle-Distance Racing.(Philips,2011)
Developing a Business Report
Writing a business Report is as crucial as the business pitch. By writing up the business report for a business we had run it gave me knowledge on factors that has to be mentioned in the business report. Moreover it also gave me learn about the factors on which any investor would focus on. Projecting the finance part was very important to catch any investor’s eye, as it describes the business all in one word. The documenting part of the entire business has helped us realise and identify the mistakes made in the business. For example in our business the mistakes we realised was that the investment made on prototyping was more and quality of products used for prototyping was high which involved huge costs.
A very important quality for a business person is to learn to work with different people in an effective way(Kevin,2011). In this way I have had my experience through this course. A good manager is a person who learns to work under constraints and make efficient use of the resources available. Entrepreneurship at Kingston is a similar scenario. With the limitation on money to be invested and with the group mates all set and the environment known it was the best to make out of it. Leadership quality is acquired ,developed and used widely only while working in groups(Charry,2009)
As a future plan the course has helped me realise the entrepreneur in me. Apart from that it has helped me develop all the skills required for an entrepreneur. Experience is a good lesson for everybody to learn from. And Entrepreneurship has given me the best experience of my course. I intend to set up my own social enterprise in the future. Through my experiences on working on ideas in the course I think this will help me analyse the need and come up with the best business model which will benefit the society through its service .Group working has given me a good experience in working with different people and I hope this would be helpful in my future business. The business pitching workshop has helped to develop my pitching skills and I hope to get significant funding for my business through this.
Thus in one word I would say that this is a life time Experience and I appreciate myself on choosing this course .Thanks to my fellow class mates and our module leader for making my experience wonderful.