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Young Enterprise is an organisation that supports students as they start and test new business ideas. Students set up companies during the school year and learn about the demands of running a business.
Learning the basics
Young Enterprise encourages students to start businesses in schools around the United Kingdom and to compete at National and European level. The competition provides an opportunity for students to experience the world of business and develop new skills, experiences and even careers. Students learn to write business plans, speak in public and sell their products and services at shopping centres, trade shows and other commercial locations. Just as in the real world students have to comply with the rules and regulations of the competition or face sanctions and expulsion.
The preparation starts in February, continues in July with the UK final, and culminates in August for the lucky few travelling to the European final. In each case the performance of students is judged against their ability to complete a written report, sell their products, perform at interview, and present a coherent business case. During the process students learn to refine their skills to the point where they can sell to customers and expertly pitch to a judging panel. Communication skills are honed at each stage of the competition and while there is no simple way to win success lies in developing good products and selling to customers.
Learning to compete
Company reports form a key part of the competition, as they focus on what the business is doing and, more importantly, what it plans to do in the future. Attendance at trade fairs is a crucial part of the contest and must be paid for by the company as a sign of commitment and endeavour. The company presentation is short at four minutes but provides a sharp focus, a discipline and an experience that remains long after prizes are earned. Judges, of course, make up their own minds about who has entrepreneurial flair and what business has commercial potential.
The finances of the company are examined, as is the level of innovation in the business and the students’ ability to develop a marketable product. The selling of the company’s goods is tested against initial market research to see what works and what can be improved.
During the competition students learn a lot, learn quickly and learn by doing as they experience all aspects of what makes a business work. The less glamorous parts of running a business are covered too as administrative tasks are mastered to make sure monies are managed. Students, at times, enter the competition lightly but soon get caught up in the allure of business and the challenge and complexity of managing all the different parts to make it work.
SO, Young Enterprise encourages students to start and test new businesses and when they do it’s surprising how much they learn from it and enjoy doing it.
Nick O’ Shiel, Chief Executive, Omagh Enterprise
Find out more about Omagh Enterprise click here.
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