Venture Creation – BA(Hons) Entrepreneurship Programme

In the last year I have had the amazing  opportunity to design a venture creation BA (Hons) Entrepreneurship Programme which is oriented towards students who wish to combine study towards an honours degree with the opportunity to start their own business in a supported environment with guidance from specialist lecturers, practising entrepreneurs and mentors. Over the years I have seen many programmes and wanted to create something for Entrepreneurs, the student and for practitioners.

This is a practice-oriented degree, which focuses on the development of the students’ entrepreneurial effectiveness. This is achieved by embracing the concept of ‘learning by doing’ which ensures students are acquiring real knowledge and practical expertise to support their business start-up and business growth aspirations. There is a focus on real business experiences including master classes, enterprise events and interactions with local and global entrepreneurs. This philosophy is extended within the assessment primarily for (rather than ‘of’) learning Entrepreneurship (QAA (2012) Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education: Guidance for UK Higher Education Providers, pp9).

BA Entrepreneurship Worcester Business School
BA Entrepreneurship Worcester Business School

Similarly, although there is an inherent emphasis on learning within the learner’s own start-up venture, the Entrepreneurship skills acquired will be transferable to other business environments and learning opportunities.

This Entrepreneurship Programme aligns with the nation and international government agenda (The Impact and Effectiveness of Entrepreneurship Policy, NESTA 2013) and seeks to increase the number of entrepreneurs in the economy.

A range of teaching pedagogies are adopted to ensure the curriculum enhances the learning of all students both in the startup and in group learning environments. In addition to lectures, seminars, videos, podcasts, presentations and visiting entrepreneurs, students will participate in action learning sets and interactive activities to apply learning from businesses experiences in their startup. These approaches are intended to take into account the principles of inclusivity: the types of learner, their startup business, their prior experience and expectations and how they learn and will be supported to learn effectively.

Given the focus on developing a continued learning environment in which students develop an entrepreneurial mindset, there is an emphasis within the Entrepreneurship Programme on tutoring and mentoring to support individual requirements, and also to reflect (at a meta-cognitive level) on their learning process. The programme is supported by more than 10 Entrepreneurs in Residence, regional business support agencies and local businesses.

The three year programme starts in September and further details can be found at:  http://www.worcester.ac.uk/journey/entrepreneurship-ba-hons.html

Student Led Incubators

There is always a real need to get student involved in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship within the university. They have a real need for enterprise skills and developing it into an Entrepreneurial career or a full blown Entrepreneur.

So on a recent visit to the the Tianjin Urban Construction Management Vocational Technology College, we had the opportunity to visit their incubator.

This college is looking at developing Energy Entrepreneurship, developing new businesses which address saving energy or using it in a more effective way, especially within China.

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So the real surprise was the cafe within the business incubator was run by Students for Students and business owners. We had the chance to meet the three owners of the business and provide some advice and support. The development of this student led cafe provides a real insight into both the management of the college and also the students within it.

The management have placed trust in the students to start, run and make a success of the cafe. This has resulted in:

1, Trusting students is such an important part of Entrepreneurship and we sometime forget to place this on students.

2, The students have taken a opportunity to run the cafe, something which every student on campus will have an opinion about. I know many students wouldn’t do this as their peers would look down on them or have something to say. The risks and rewards associated with this is a great lesson, but the greatest one is that these students have the largest network on campus.

3, Having a go, should always provide winners, as experience of entrepreneurship will ensure students leave with more skills that we educators could ever teach them.

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The cafe was the centre of the business incubator and so made it student led, the cafe was the heart of the space, just as it should be.

So when we arrange, we were saw a great space being used by other students and it was the centre of campus live. So good luck.

 

Setting Objectives when Starting up a Business

When Setting Objectives when Starting up a Business you should always use SMART objectives -the most well known method for setting objectives. S.M.A.R.T refers to the acronym that describes the key characteristics of meaningful objectives, which are:

Specific

  • WHAT am I going to do?
  • WHY is this important for me to do?
  • WHO is going to do what? Who else need to be involved?
  • WHEN do I want this to be completed?
  • HOW am I going to do this?

Measureable

  • How do I know when I have done it?
  • Can these measurements be obtained?
  • What are the numbers, quantity, comparisons?

Achievable

  • Can we get it done in the proposed timeframe?
  • Do I understand the limitations and constraints?
  • Can we do this with the resources we have?
  • Has anyone else done this successfully?
  • Is this possible?

Realistic

  • Do you have the resources available to achieve this objective?
  • Do I need to revisit priorities in my life to make this happen?
  • Is it possible to achieve this objective?

Time-Bound

  • When will this objective be accomplished?
  • Is there a stated deadline? (a defined time line)

Setting Goals Summary

Remember what gets measured gets done, so write your goals down, share them constantly with those who can help, are part of the goal and your team. Keep refining your goals to ensure achievable. If necessary, split goals down into achievable tasks.

Effective Listening Skills for Entrepreneurs

Why Listening Skills?

The most important skill you can develop as an entrepreneur is the ability to listen and understand what your prospects are telling you. There are two forms of listening active and passive. Most people develop lazy passive listening skills which mean they hear the words, don’t process the aural sounds into understanding and follow through with feedback.

Understand the speakers body language ensures you are developing a higher understanding of the situation. Avoid letting the speaker know how you handled a similar situation. Even if the speaker is launching a complaint against you, wait until they finish to defend yourself.

Engage yourself to understand what is being communicated to you

Active listening is about using every sense, processing the words, creating understanding and following through with encouraging feedback.

Feedback

Encouraging – It is the technique through which the speaker is encouraged to continue talking. The expressions like “I see” are generally used in this activity. The technique of ‘encouraging’ is an effective way to reinforce the speaker’s belief that one is listening to him keenly. It also helps the speaker understand which part of his speech is being appreciated and helps him elaborate on that particular topic.
Paraphrasing – In this process, the words spoken by the speaker are presented by the listener in different words. The benefit of paraphrasing is that the speaker gets positive feedback and ensures that whatever he has spoken is being understood by the listener. This prompts the speaker to proceed further and stops him from repeating the same statement more than once.
Reflecting the Feelings – The activity of reflecting the feelings is similar to paraphrasing. In paraphrasing feedback about the meaning of words is given, while the feelings underlying the words are reflected in this activity; identification and sorting of the speaker’s feelings is carried out in this process. If one is listening to a client, reflecting the feelings helps the speaker understand that one empathizes with his feelings; it encourages the speaker to proceed.
Summarizing – As the name suggests, this activity involves summarizing the sentences of the speaker. It is somewhat similar to paraphrasing except for the fact that summarizing provides a complete and comprehensive feedback.

 

Ten Tips for Developing Effective Listening Skills

  1. Understanding the difference between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ listening.

To listen ‘actively’ means to be engaged, involved. You are actively using every sense you have to listen.

To listen ‘passively’ means you hear the words with your ears. You are letting the sound of the words wash over you rather than going forward to meet and greet them. They ‘go in one ear and out the other’ very easily.

  1. Eliminate outer distractions.

If you are giving someone your full attention then sounds other than those you want to hear can distract. Turn off what you can and consciously block the rest.

  1. Eliminate inner distractions.

Quell the urge to think about anything other than what you are hearing. If you allow your mind to wander you are letting yourself lapse into ‘passive’ rather ‘active’ listening.

  1. Pay close attention to the speaker’s body language and in particular the face and hands. Watch for non-verbal cues giving suggestions as to how the spoken information is to be interpreted.

Click for a quick basic guide to body language . If you’re unfamiliar with the notion of ‘reading’ the way a person holds their body, this will serve as a good introduction.

  1. Listen to the tone of the voice.

What feelings does it evoke? What does it let you know about the speaker’s emotional state beyond the words they are using? Listen too for changes in tone, pitch or pauses within the speech. These can signal subject shifts or transitions. They may also be letting you know what is important and what isn’t.

  1. Listen to the tone of the words chosen to express the speaker’s ideas. Most of us use differing vocabularies depending on whom we are speaking to and what it is we are saying. What is the speaker’s choice of words saying to you beyond the words themselves?
  2. Pay close attention to cues heralding note-worthy information or summary statements. Example: ‘There are two things I want you to remember…’, ‘There are three important steps. The first is…’, ‘To sum up…’
  3. Resist the urge to respond or react.

Let the words communicate with you freely. They are not free if you are already deciding what you’re going to say because you have shifted your focus from the speaker to yourself. A premature outburst either in your mind or outloud can block communication.

  1. Practice playing-back what ‘you think’ you heard. If it’s appropriate check your understanding. Use your own words to paraphrase and or/summarise what was said. Ask if you heard rightly. Get confirmation or clarification.
  2. Be aware of cultural-difference.

Body language varies significantly across cultures as does what can and what can’t be talked about. Before leaping to a conclusion reflecting your own interpretation or prejudice, ask.

 

 

 

A true Entrepreneur never fails, just learns

In the recent months, I have been thinking about the journey we take as entrepreneurs. This is not always a logical one and it has many twists and turns but as a lecturer I know it’s important to present a structured approach with a limited set of options. But as a realist, I also know the path to true enlightenment may be through the pit of delusion.

The message that failure is a good thing is one which many people are now talking about, yet I find our education system still thinks in a binary way, you either pass or fail and this can only be done at defined points, normally set by your age.

Our Examination system teaches us from a young age that there is only one right answer and many wrong ones. This then provides society with a view of you, typically a grade from A* to U. We sit and judge you from afar, if too many get high marks then the exams were easy, if too little get high mark then the youth of today are spending too much time on their Xbox. The hard fact for many young people is that the grade is final and they be able to change it, even if they get better at that subject. You never get the opportunity to learn from your mistakes or gain a higher grade.

Yet Entrepreneurship is about the path your take and the reactions to the decisions and not the decisions themselves.

Everyone is expected to take the wrong turn at some point and the important thing is how you get back on track. How do you learn from the situation? How do you react to your mistake? How do you reflect on the situation and opportunities surrounding you at this point?

Let me explain this in terms of driving from London to Paris. If you made one wrong turn at any point, then as long as you recognized this fact and acted on this information to rectify it, you would still arrive in Paris. It may or not take longer or extra time. yet our education system would have failed you and asked you to never drive this route again.

I always explain starting a successful business as having to make one hundred right decisions. Out of how many I do know know. Over what time I do now t know. I don’t know what feedback loop will be in place. When will I know that I have done it?

We all agree that these decisions will need to be made and that some of them will be shown to be wrong. (Either the right decision at the wrong moment or the wrong decision at the right moment) This is not a fail, just another opportunity to learn, rethink the plan and evaluate your surroundings.

Our secondary education system needs to develop an opportunity to reflect on the learning and allow the learner to build this into their learning plan moving forward.

Your path is your own and only on your reflection can you mark yourself.