This reflection essay will sum up my experiences which I have gathered in the Young enterprise module this year. The “Start-up Business” module was one of the most practical and realistic modules I have ever had in my university life. Throughout this academic year I have not only gathered experiences but have also gained valuable skills which I will be using in the future whenever starting up a new business. These skills and experiences will always be able to help me and develop me further when stepping into the business world.
My aim is to run an international car trading company and this essay will reflect the in depth analysis and experiences related to my business aim. In addition this essay will also discuss how my experiences and the lessons learned in the start-up module will help me to achieve my goals. Also it will show a clear image of how exactly I had to relate the different tasks I did accomplish and the various lessons I learned. This essay will also show an in depth analyses of my strengths and weaknesses of my abilities which relate to any kind of business. Various examples of scenarios how the individual strengths and weaknesses were recognized will also be included in this report. Besides this, a general overview and structure of the start-up module will also be incorporated in this section. How expectation and reality have met and what conclusions have been taken out will be clearly exposed. This essay is a reflection of my experience of this whole journey which was challenging at times.
The start-up Journey
This specific module has attracted some sort of excitement and adventure in my mind when I first heard the name. As explained above it was always my dream to trade cars internationally. I have had previous business experiences but not on an international level. That desire to learn more into depth has triggered me to choose this module and improve my skills. This module has by far been the most practical and critical one as well as benefited me as it gave me real life experiences and gave me the opportunity to play around in the business world. In addition it was a great way to test my strengths and weaknesses when doing business. It started with a full class of students where our lecturer Mr David introduced himself and went through the overall information of the module. The first lecture started with lots of pressure where we had to introduce ourselves to the students and come up with some sort of sales pitch of our own. That was the point where I felt that this module was all about working in pressure and winning friends and stepping forward in any possible ways. With the help of the facilities, students and opportunities we were able to look forward to be successful. We had to build up teams of five that included five different managing positions. A team needed to be built from all the start-up students and people with different background and experiences should engage together and divide the following roles:
We had now the opportunity to find people and talk to them and build a team who will start up a new business and come up with a new business idea. Our lecturer David has set up a program where we would introduce our self and then chose people accordingly. We had 30 seconds and had to stand in front of the class members. This was not less challenging than any other difficult task. Presenting to others in 30 seconds and then pitching then and convincing them to work with them were one of the hardest things ever.
This was my first experience to present myself that way to my class members as if it would be a trade market. I presented and realized quickly I won friends and convinced people to work with me. Presenting was my plus point as I was good at presenting. It was not easy but I did manage it very well. Talking to people would bring me joy and confidence. The more I attracted people’s attention the more confident I became throughout. That skill which I call presenting persuasively was something I could relate to my future goals. Presenting would open many new doors for me for the business I wanted to go in which is the car industry. Presenting would allow me to compete with my competitors and win new clients at any stage of the business. It would help me to spread my business and to market my products or services. If I will be confidence towards my target audience then I it will not be a problem for me to grow massively in that sector. Throughout this module presenting in front of others has been the most valuable skill that I learned so far and the most useful tool I would need as a successful business man.
My strengths and weaknesses
At some point of the module we had built up teams of 5 and now were thinking about potential products we could come up with. Having 5 different people in the team meant having 5 different points of views and this meant a lot of tolerance. Throughout the module I realised I had some strengths and also some weaknesses which only I knew and only I could work on them. Working on my weaknesses could help me to overcome them and turn them into strengths and working on my strengths meant I could develop them even further. I explored that one of my weaknesses was to work in team when working in team was of the fundamentals of this module. Working with other group members and embracing different ideas could get me stressed some times. This would affect my business in the future very negatively for example when I have to work with other companies or mergers in my future business which is an international car trading company and where working in teams is vital. I would face problems as not being able to work in team would be an obstacle for my opportunity to grow and keep up business relationships. I identified my weakness and worked on it throughout the academic year and tried to work in group teams effectively. In addition, I also tried to be able to share my ideas with my group members and listen to their ideas and interact with them at a very pleasant level. This module has helped me to work on my weaknesses and turn them into my strengths. One of my strengths in this module was when we had to work under pressure. I was highly productive when it was about working under pressure. Presenting at Dragons Den or targeting my audience I was phenomenal at all that. This strength will help me in my business for example when I will have to keep up deadlines or react to unexpected events. For instance if my business will face difficulties such as a un expected loss I could use this skill and try to resolve that issue without any problems or hurdles. Working in pressure is an element any entrepreneur needs to have as entrepreneurs are constantly looking for opportunities and most of the time opportunities come unexpected.
After finishing the module and looking back I can see a lot of experiences I will take with me into my future business. Overall, the entire module has been a great experience and has helped me to work in various conditions. Learning my strengths and weaknesses and critically analyse them and then to work on them and improve myself in any aspect will be very much beneficial for me. The biggest lesson I am taking with myself is to be always prepared to work in a team. As there are some tasks or assignments which only can be accomplished by a team not by individuals. Realizing that a team has more potential of success is very important for me. When I started this module I had expectations but now I have learnt that my expectations have met the reality and I have learnt from it without a single shadow of doubt. I had different views and thoughts about business before I started the module but now after completing it I am different. Being able to have gone through this intense module has left me being a good entrepreneur. As explained above I will apply these analytical skills and experiences into my future business. I will try to learn from my mistakes and turn them into my strong points. I am also very sure this module has prepared me for any scenario I can have in my future business. It has been a practical learning process for me and also surely for anyone who is looking to start up a business in the future. I really enjoyed this module and would always use the lesson I have learnt here.
As any business would use all it potential channels and routes to do business at any level also we at Brainstorm decided to use social media and opened up a Facebook page of our company. According to Hubspot, 92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business.
As we had regular general meetings in our company, we set up an agenda and decided to open up a Facebook page where we would present our company and products to the general public. In this way we could use social media marketing to promote our product as well as company.
We opened up a Facebook page named Brainstorm Company as you can see on the image, posted a couple of pictures of our team and also left a space where people can leave feedback or any questions they have.
There are many benefits of social media marketing. It enhances brand loyalty as customer and clients have the opportunity to see the company online so they feel a bit more appreciated.
After using Facebook as a social marketing tool we have gathered a lot of positive feedback from some of our students from our University and the customers who already have done their first purchase at our store.
What I have learnt from that experience is that marketing on itself is a vital part of the business. we have applied different types of marketing methods from social media to face to face customer approach and have faced challenges and difficulties but at the end the results were phenomenal. Every time we did marketing we realized how important it is. After any marketing action we received reasonable response from the general public. I think I do not have any doubt to say that any success we have gathered till now is because of marketing. If our marketing will be done accordingly to the demand and into detail and focused on the specific target group then it will not be impossible for us to provide excellent customer service and grow more into the market.
This was an event by the young enterprise for start up students here in Kingston Universities. I am very thankful to young enterprise who organised various events throughout the year which were very useful for us.
This particular event was about how to push the product in the market. It was focusing on how and when to push the product in the market. All the crucial elements of market entry have been discussed. The presentation given by the speakers was very helpful for me as I learned key elements of market entry and could take down notes in order to further improve my knowledge in the future.
Firstly, the most important point I learnt was effectively addressing the target audience. Identifying the target audience is one of the most crucial elements of a new business, especially a start up. Without knowing your target group and who you actually are going to sell your product or service to, it is almost impossible to run a business and make it survive. Having the ability to distinguish between types of audiences makes it easier for the business to focus on the segment of the market.
So I learnt that for our start up we would need to clarify and research who our target audience is. We would need to be very sure about our target audience in order not to lose time and efforts and also financial resources.
The focus of one segment of the market allows us to come up with a product that will fill the gap in the market and satisfy the needs of that particular audience. It will also help us to increase our sales as we specialize in one segment.
Moreover, another point which the speaker made was also very important and formed basis of any business; market research and analysis. Market research is the foundation of a successful business as it shows weather there is demand for your product or not. From the speech I learned that that as a start up we had to be 100% sure about the level of demand for our product.
Previously, we had been doing market research at university but this speech encouraged me to do more market research and be specific about our product and find out what people actually think about our product. So, the feedback would allow us to critically assess and change our product according to the needs of people. I realized this had to be taken seriously as it is the foundation of the whole business.
This speech was very beneficial for every business student and in particular for all start up students. It emphasized on the importance of these points and explained them in detail, which was crucial for us as we had to practically apply these steps to our business model. I also learnt how important the location is when selling the product. In order to succeed we had to find out which locations are the best to market our products. For example selling online would not give us much reputation or acknowledgement, however it would allow us to reach a large audience and eventually lead to higher sales. In contrast, selling face to face would enable us to build a relationship with the customer and introduce our self personally. Hence it is crucial to focus our attention on the appropriate location and distribution channels in order to boost our sales.
This was the final and the most important trade fair which was being held at the Kingston University Penryn road campus by the young enterprise following a function and an event. Different people such as ex Kingston students and lecturers were invited who left Kingston University with a Vision and worked hard to achieve their goals and eventually succeeded.
This was the final trade fair where we had the opportunity to trade and try to push our products in the market. This trade fair is special as it enabled us to learn a big lesson which helped us to critically asses our strengths and weaknesses.
For this particular event we planned a meeting and set out an agenda for the trade fair. It is vital and crucial that one does prepare himself for any sort of business event. We set out exactly how we set up our stand and what layout we will have at the trader fair as presentation is on of the key elements of a business. We decided on things such as the table stand colors, our dress code. We decided to black and white dress code in order to show unity in our team. Unity brings strength and confidence to the team.
The trade fair in itself went fabulous and was full of useful information. We made a sale of total 3 hardback notebooks and had the opportunity to present our product to some high profile people who were ex students or lecturers from Kingston Business society. The feedback we received was very helpful and had to be used in future sales events. However, an issue we had to face was that we did not have the actual product sample of our second product; chargeable notebook. A lot of people wanted to see the actual prototype. Unfortunately we were not able to provide a prototype of that product on that day as we had some issues with the supplier. However, we did show an illustration of our product on the mac book at our stand.
As we analysed our current state, we realized that people would not pay attention to the illustration on the laptop and want to see the actual product in their hands instead.
We could feel that each potential customer would show interest in our product but as soon as he would realize that there is no actual product, he would loose his interest.
As a result of that, our sales were affected by the absence of the actual product and thus our sales were not as high as they could have been. Hence, the lesson learnt was that a physical prototype should always be displayed in order to completely satisfy a customer and finally accomplish a sale. We learnt that people feel more attracted to the product when they have it in their hand. Touching and feeling the product can create an energy which will make them buy the product.
“When running ideas by one and other, there is a lot more scope for creativity in comparison to working on a project alone”
As quoted in the report “Why teamwork is important in the workplace” we can find out the importance of group work and that more people means more creativity and so teamwork is beneficial for any sort of business of any scope.
Through this whole journey of start up, one thing was very common and clear the fact that we always had to work as a team in the journey. Although there were some challenges that we had to face at some point, it was a very helpful experience for my personal development.
First of all, one of the main advantages of working as a team is that when all members from different backgrounds come together, they bring a range of different ideas to the table. Diversify is mostly perceived as a positive factor as it promotes more creativity. A mastermind is at its own but if there are 5 other master minds then all of the masterminds start to think together and this enables then to be more creative. It is crucial that through discussions and analytical procedures one can enhance its ideas and thoughts. When running through new ideas there is more scope of creativity and comparison. People can share their views and useful information about a certain concept.
Also, relevant past experiences can be shared through group members which add value to the quality of the idea or suggestion. In particular, today’s knowledge economy requires businesses to invest in creativity and innovation in order to compete effectively. Through the experience of working within a group, I realized that I could be more creative and by sharing my ideas with colleagues, I was able to get instant feedback which helped me to evaluate my ideas more critically.
Another benefit of team work is that it enhances interpersonal skills through engagement in group activities. A group consists of team members who all possess different sets of skills and are meant to complement each other. For instance, if one group member is good at presenting another group member may be good at writing reports. As mentioned earlier, different people have different skills which enables enhanced efficiency.
The most important aspect I have learnt in the whole journey is how to work in a team. This experience has enabled me to enhance my understanding of other group members and also improve my communication skills. In addition team working has also helped me to work with different types of people with different natures. Therefore, my understanding of people has increased and I am able to interact better with people form different backgrounds.
I used to have a negative impression of group work but after this wonderful experience, I now value the important elements of group work. I have learnt to be more tolerant and to be more understandable towards other members.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Team work is an essential skill that is required in every successful leader. Hence, this module was a great opportunity to enhance our team working skills as we had to form groups and present a group presentation.
The selection of our team was a very important process throughout this module as we had to make sure that we had the appropriate people that would have he necessary skills for the presentation. It is always important when forming groups to choose people who are completely different, as they bring new ideas and different thoughts together. The product of a group with a diverse range of backgrounds ensure that they all contribute in various different ways and are all aware of different cultures. Since my main course is international business, I knew the importance that culture plays in businesses decisions.
Therefore, i was looking for someone who could contribute with his/her range of skills. Financial skills, Technological skills, and managerial skills were few of the most critical skills required amongst others. The process of finding the right people was quite challenging as it is quite difficult to judge people and tell who has which skills. Despite this, I took on this challenge very bravely and started having conversations with everyone around me with the hope of getting to the right people.
After having conversations with a number of people, I came across a very hard working and interesting person; Sam. Somehow, we had the same vision and attitude towards life although we were from different backgrounds. Hence, we decided to form a team and now we were two people looking for the rest of the people. When the two of us came together, it became easier for us to choose the remaining people and after some hard work we finally formed our group of 5 people which consisted of a girl and 4 boys.
Every group member came from a different background and therefore could speak different languages. For instance I am a German who is originally from Pakistan and lived in London and so I can speak three languages. Similarly, everyone else in my group came from different background and also had a professionally business background already. This made sure that everyone could contribute to the team with the variety of skills they had. Overall, the whole process of choosing a group was challenging yet very interesting.
As in this module we had to come up with a product which we practically can sell and reach out to the public.
As in this aspect me and my group thought of almost everything but never were satisfied about that idea. But then a group member of ours came up with a fact that he went to the store to buy a notepad for university. He could not find a nice one, there were only black and red boring ones. So the product we wanted to sell was finally discovered, it was the notebook with graphic designs so people can differentiate them selves. Also interesting graphic designs will make the notebook much more intesresting and colourful.
We started our initial market research where we asked questions in regards to the our notepad with graphic designs. Also we would show some designs in the questionnaire just to see what peoples reaction would be. After conducting the research our guess seemed more real. We have established the gap in the market.
Next we tried finding a supplier who can supply us with our product for a reasonable price as well as a reasonable quality. After long struggle we managed to find one supplier which would supply us notepatds printed with coloured designs on the main page with laserprinting.
After that we did think about how we would sell that product. Local university shops and university events were our target and slowly we will have expanded to local town shops where the public can buy our product.
My role in the Business project was sales so I have been given the position of Sales Director. I was responsible to find any possible sales channels to make sure we get a high number of sales.
I have never personally been involved directly in a business and I strongly believe that having done this Business Project has given me a uniqe experience of different roles. An experience which I would never be able to get in just theory. In the whole journey of that module I have enhanced my skills my capabilities and my understanding to work with different people. I have also developed myself as a Business role model as I had been given the role of the Sales Director of the company.
Today we had our mock presentation as a group. We had to present our product to the jury and to our start up class students.
We have also been told that this mock presentation will be recorded on a video camera so that later on we have the opportunity to see ourself and then to critically assess and evaluate our performance.
Our group practiced a lot for the presentation and each of us had a script to ensure that we would not go over time.
Also, we practiced some techniques such as the eye contact or movement of hands and gestures. This ensured that our body language put an emphasis on our words and that our message came across perfectly.
This actually was a great opportunity to see ourselves in the video later on and pick out areas where we could improve our weaknesses so that the final presentation would to be perfect.
For the first time in my life I really felt what it feels like to present in front of business people and jury. I felt the pressure and the high intense atmosphere.
I learnt a lot from this day as having the experience is the key to success and thats what me and my group members gathered here on that day.
One can have the best ideas but if you do not present it well or deliver it in an interesting way its useless. Effective presentations can be a step closer to success. So it is vital to express the idea in a way that catches the attention of people. Hence, it is vital that all presentation techniques and small tricks are practiced which make your presentation appealing.
After our presentation me and my group members watched our video and could point out things and mistakes so the process of self assesment started and it really was very helpful for us.
Today we had the enterprise meeting at Penryn road , Kingston University. The meeting was organised for all all start up business students and attendance was compulsory.
There was a guest speaker who held a talk about motivation in Business.
Besides this Rachel started her speech with the story how she started her business when she had nothing. During this period she also witnessed some really tough times. Although it was very easy to quit and demotivate herself, she had to fight against her will and motivate herself and put all her energy into the business. She also had the honor to write a book called “Business Nightmares”.
She has also been at the Dragons Den and performed there as well. Thus, whatever she was saying was based on her relevant experience and therefore very interesting.
I personally learnt a lot from her speech which was about motivation. She mentioned in her speech that time has changed now and business has become a part our society.
I as a Final Year business student found this event and especially her speech very useful and I think that it goes beyond the idea of having an idea and making some money but its more about how to bring a change in society and help people.
It is the entrepreneurs who are being innovative and bringing the change in society. One little positive change can have an enormous impact on the whole society.So in the future I have planned to put all of my attention in the vision of creating and not wasting time in fighting in negative. This is how we business people are going to form the future.
I strongly do believe that entrepreneurs have to be good at self motivation and keeping the motivation at high levels all the time even in times of difficulties. I will try to stay consistently focused on what ever I will plan and stick to my plan.
I know it is very easy to get demotivated by most of the things that go wrong and get depressed and waste my energy. But with that attitude it is very difficult to attract people. I will want to use my energy no matter whats wrong with it, if I will be able to keep up that high vibration I can attract the things I will need on my route to success.
“The people who do not give up are the ones who succeed”
I have benefited a lot from this event and I am sure everyone else will have as well. Motivation is key and the little thought to bring a change in the society is the first big step one has to go for in order to create a positive change in the world.