Category Archives: Training

Training Courses and Sessions offered by David Bozward

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).

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 BA (Hons) 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 BA (Hons) 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.

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:


  • 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?


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


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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.


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.




Selecting the Correct Startup Mentor


Our experience has highlighted the matching of mentor/mentee pairs as the most important factor in the success or otherwise of effective mentoring. Every person who starts a business should have at least one mentor, these people are there to a devil’s advocate and support in development of the business. They are not business advisers or life coaches and therefore are not making decision for the business owner. The business owner is 100% responsible for their own actions.  We would typically assign at least two mentors based on the following criteria. The two mentors would be from separate criteria to ensure we provided diverse mentoring support.

Key Criteria

  • Methods of Working
  • Sector Knowledge
  • Area of Expertise
  • Stage of Business
  • Location Network
  • Peer or Near Peer Mentors

Methods of Working

Both parties should have expectations and they should set out the process they will follow in dealing with each other. When will they contact each other? What is the communication medium SMS, Email, Telephone or Face to Face, What response time will the other person provide? When is out of hours? What support will they get and what is expected from the mentee? Use the GROW model for mentoring sessions.

Sector Knowledge

Many people want someone to mentor them who has already done it. Someone in the same industry has the network contact to help them move forward faster. They may be diversifying into a new sector and need introductions. The approach that mentors take within a business sector will also have to been taken into account. We find this is one of the fastest ways to develop the mentee’s understanding of the benefits of mentoring.

Area of Expertise

People starting a business may require help with one field, e.g. sources of finance, marketing, IPR, logistics, operations, sales, office, international sales, production, TAX, bookkeeping, website SEO, etc. This field will require mentoring over period of time when the mentor is no longer required and another mentor can be assigned to deal with their new needs.

Stage of Business

Our mentoring solution works on a six stage business growth model which is detailed in Appendix A.  It is particularly important to ensure that the mentors understand the importance and nature of each stage and do not jump into suggesting solutions before they have fully appreciated the context and needs of their mentees.

In moving the business forward, the better the foundations within the early stages the better the business opportunities in the later stages. Therefore having specialist mentors for these stages provides the best results.

Location Network

One of the core resources needed to grow a business is access to a network of like minded people who may be customers, competitors, investors or collaborators and a mentors can be the fastest way of accessing this network. We also find that certain industries have a culture that lends itself to a sustainable network of experts who are willing to ‘put something back’ into the system in the form of mentoring, such a lawyers, accountants and educators.

Peer or Near Peer Mentors

Peer-based activity is regarded as the best way to transfer tacit knowledge critical to business success. This is a very powerful and meaningful proposition in a entrepreneurial social context with the opportunity to develop a sustained and long term relationship.


Entrepreneurs don’t like forms

When you work with so many universities, you get to see many aspects of Enterprise Education, some good some bad. But there is one aspect which staff and students have issues with and its ERDF funded projects. These projects are designed by someone who normally has long gone to another institution and therefore the narrative is long lost on why they embarked on this journey, however across the sector we see a series of common issues:

Timing – When a student joins a university and wants to start a business on graduation. They pop over to the enterprise department and see what support is available for graduates and notice its “part funded by the EU”. The one question they forget to ask is “Will this be available in three years when I graduate”. If they did ask, the answer would be “I am not sure as its a three year project that started last year” or something like this. How can the student plan to start a business at that university if the support is not going to be there?  The length of the project is not in line with the academic programme and the University has not committed to provide a portfolio of support for students with or without ERDF funding.

Journey – The journey through enterprise education and support to create a business is not a linear one. The education is needed at the point of most impact, i.e, just before they need to undergo that task. You need book keeping at the start and completing the business tax return at some point within the first year. Some students require a considerable amount of social media training within the execution of the marketing plan, while others need very very little. These rigid projects can not coup with this approach.

Support Blocks – The majority of ERDF project require support to be in six hours blocks, signed off by the student on paper (That’s the EU Eco credentials crashing and burning). This requires a fixed “we are going to tell you” how to run a business approach. This limits the support to providing six hours on each subject and forcng everyone to attend every session to build up a set of paper work which evidences the “learning”. Whereby setting the objective to get people to sign forms in person. The majority of staff are only concerned with getting students to sign forms. The use of mixed media and social peer development is important for any long term business development and yet does not fit into these six hour form signing blocks.

Scope – The requirements of the project requires the scope of the project to be limited, which is understandable. However, a students startup comes in all shapes and sizes, which may not fit within the scope. The money is set out in a way which 2 years ago made sense, but now the economy, technology and business trends have moved on makes little sense to conducts the project with this set scope. The projects need to be able to adapt to the needs to the customer while keeping the aim, to support students in starting a viable business.

Location – The majority of projects are based around a location, so within the region of the university. The funding for the project comes from two sources, the EU and the students fees. So if the student intends to develop their business back home in another region, then they are not eligible for support under the ERDF project. The university does not offer support in getting them on a project in their region and nor does the university offer to support the student with the part of the funding which they are matching with the EU. So this student loses out.

One Stop Solution – Students want to go to one person and get all the support available for starting a business. They don’t need several projects which work on different aspects of enterprise and are separate. The supermarkets know this, the government know this (, so Universities need to understand this and develop the enterprise support personal to be a single team where students meet the first person and can get access to the portfolio of support available at this institution. The ERDF project can not be the only support available and there has to be more offered to ensure the needs of students is met.

I know these issues are not entirely placed by the EU, who need to understand why these projects are providing little long term benefits or culture change within the institutions. The majority of the problems lies with those that create the proposals, the managers of the project and their briefs. Basically it needs further development of a working relationship with people who understand enterprise education with those who understand how ERDF projects should and could be run.