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Our thoughts on the latest developments impacting your business.

Don’t give up on the kids!

In October 2010 I received an email through our Chamber of Commerce asking if local businesses would be prepared to invest some free time helping schools improve their students understanding of ‘real world’ business. You see there was a gap in the students education and as a marketer I understand this message clearly, but I’ll come on to that more in a moment. The problem the teachers were having was one of frustration; they can teach the subjects but placing the knowledge into commercial situations was less easy, most teachers of course are career teachers with little experience of commerce.

As a father of two boys in what was then Years 8 and 3, helping our local teachers connected with a desire in me. Yes, my children were on this quest and at some stage might need the same support, equally I’d reached an age in life where you start to look back as well as forwards (you didn’t think I’d say what age did you?). I wanted to contribute and I wanted to know more about my own children’s education. I also geneuinely believe these students can offer me a lot too, through their recollections, I’m still learning. I also love my profession and thought this was a good forum to engage.

That first event was providing ‘interview experience’ to Year 12’s, since then I’ve lent a hand at over a dozen different events across five different Warwickshire schools, some events similar to the first, some fun activities and some where the students are encouraged to identify the gaps in their learning…before it’s too late. There we go again, gaps! We discuss pretty much everything: – marketing planning and strategy, finance and budgeting, presenting proposals and sales channels. What better way is there to open up their curriculum to the life that could lie ahead of them, and if just a few take it on board doesn’t that help to improve Britain’s competitive edge that much earlier? There we go again, ‘gaps’, but now it’s how we (even as) small business owners can do much more than moan about this great country we live in, we can improve the futures of our children and thereby our place in the global economy!

By attending these sessions we can do much to make sure we prepare the students for the future. I recall one young man telling me he wanted to run his own bakery, he loved those classroom sessions and apparently was really good at it, but no one had previously taught him what else he needed if he was going to give his business the best possible chance of success. Suddenly you could see his appreciation for what he was doing that day and boy can I tell you that was a superb thing to witness. On another day I was with a group of five Year 9 students at a different school. I asked how many knew what they hoped to do when they left school and astonishingly four wanted to run their own businesses. At the end of the day’s session none of those four wanted to run their own companies, what they had learnt was enough to make them re-think, but the one who didn’t know was now engaged, really engaged. Had I done a good job turning four away? Who knows, but what I can say is that they now knew what was involved, they would be better prepared for what lay ahead. So if you are a small business and you are reading this I hope you can see what it’s done to help me and show we must not give up on the kids.

As for the gaps, business planning is all about the same thing. If you want to stay ahead, catch-up, prepare your business for redirecting then you too, must be mindful of those gaps and do all that you can to fill them.

Year 9 Business Enterprise day
The students presenting their business plan.

 

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