The next generation of young entrepreneurs

This week I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved as a speaker and a judge with the Young Enterprise programme in Worcestershire. As part of Young Enterprise, groups of students aged 15-18 start a real business, creating a brand new product before marketing and selling it to the general public. They build their business over a period of 8 months, and then create a company report, trade stand and short presentation which is judged in area, regional, national and even European finals.

What I love about Young Enterprise is that it isn’t just theory-based. It gives students the very real opportunity to experience the business world and encourages them to innovate while considering all aspects of what makes a business work. It’s just a real shame that this isn’t a bigger part of the core curriculum, as the standard Business Studies and Economics courses only go a very short distance in preparing young people for running a business themselves.

On Tuesday, I shared my story and the lessons I’ve learnt as the guest speaker at the South Worcestershire final, where the participating companies had created such products as a university student cookbook, decorative light ornaments, student yearbooks and high quality chopping boards. Every business demonstrated the huge range of skills they’d learnt over the course of the programme, and the judges had some very difficult decisions to make.

On Thursday, it was my time to make some of those difficult decisions as one of the judges for the North Worcestershire final. Products on show included scented candles, Scrabble tile coasters, tiered cake stands and upcycled ornamental bottles. I know it can be nice to say that the decisions were tough when they may not have been, and that the judges had a tough time seperating the groups to choose winners, but the truth is, the standard really was so high that we didn’t have an easy job.

There were two outright winners, one for the Bromsgrove and Redditch area, and one for the Wyre Forest area.

Aurora won the Bromsgrove and Redditch area because we felt they had the whole package, going as far as creating team uniforms and a really high quality trade stand, in addition to having a great product.

We chose Limitless as the Wyre Forest region winner. We felt there would be improvements that would need to be made to their company report if they are to be successful in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire regional final, but on the night they presented themselves very well at their trade stand, and delivered a presentation that felt like it was delivered from the heart.

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