In the first week of a very wet November in London, five entrepreneurs from very different backgrounds came to Ent-Ex to share the causes of their success with thirty 18 – 26 year olds. The aim ? To help a future generation of business leaders to identify the skills which made these five entrepreneurs successful, and to help them to develop some of their own.
The highly interactive workshop design allowed a diverse group of participants to find out which skills our successful entrepreneurs had in common, and in doing this participants were encouraged to practice and develop several of these as they produced, and promoted, their own workshop product.
Not all were planning to become entrepreneurs in the very near future: more than half were undecided, or thought that these same skills would be helpful to them in the job market. In fact, 6 of the young people who joined us were employees of multi-national Engineering and Construction company CB&I, who saw Ent-Ex as a great way for them to develop these skills which will be essential for their future careers.
On Monday morning, Steve Price, our coach, helped our participants get a clearer view on what an entrepreneur really is: a hard-working, ever improving, resource-efficient, networked, (appropriate) risk-taking, trustworthy professional whose products or services meet (real) needs of a community, and whose enterprise helps the economy by providing jobs. Each of the successful entrepreneurs invited to share their experiences would go on to demonstrate all of these characteristics and more.
Ketan Makwana has a focus (and passion) in business, enterprise and youth development. He co-launched Enterprise Lab in summer 2011, working on education, employability and enterprise programmes now in 11 countries impacting 35,000 people. He is also head of operations at RockStar Youth, a UK leading funding and mentoring organisation.
Mark Jenkins built his extensive business knowledge, expertise and some of his most significant network contacts during a career in the civil and building sector. As Co-founder in 2003, and now as CEO, he heads Eira, an international provider of Management Consultancy services. Eira brings an essentially entrepreneurial approach to building and executing strategies which help its major corporate clients improve their performance. Mark’s use of networks to gain market knowledge was really insightful, and his experience-based opinion that growing your sales will bring you faster and more sustainable returns than chasing investors, was widely agreed with.
Nana Wereko-Brobby is the director of Social Concierge, a dating agency. She tells us that working in a big corporate organisation is a great way to learn the skills you will need to start you own business.
Andrew Ibbotson, Co Founder of TrueView – an award winning dating App but also co-founder of The Hatch, a co-working space in Spitalfields which is home to 15 businesses.
Patrick Crompton is director and co-Founder of eSynergySolutions, a recruiting agency, ‘expert in Open Source & Cloud Resourcing’ and technology profiles. Patrick is a self-starter and learned most of his business knowledge while working and developing himself as his company developed. Patrick explained how difficult it was today to find human resources for his company; not because he does not have enough applications but because, in his view, they do not have the right skills. When asked what they would need, his answer “Networking skills, team working, being hungry and motivated… well, what we just talked about during these interviews really”.
Not all of our participants will be entrepreneurs; in fact, we are pushing them to really consider if they have what it takes to become one. In any case, they will have all benefited from the programme and have developed aptitudes and skills during these four days which they will apply whatever career they choose.
And what did Ent-Ex participants think about the event? “I enjoyed the programme because it was challenging, enlightening and changed my mind-set. It was quite intensive!” said Carole Mercer, a student at Westminster Business School, who is also an active member of Westminster Business Consultants, the Junior Enterprise based at WBS. “It was fascinating to hear five very different stories” commented Matthieu Cavenaile, a third year engineering student at ULB in Brussels. “The opportunity to meet and talk to entrepreneurs encourages us, as individuals to pursue our aim to become successful entrepreneurs. I learned a lot more and will definitely apply what I have learned.”
If you want to join us for our next workshop, or know someone who could benefit from it, applications are now open for the 2016 Ent-Ex programme. Follow this link to register or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.