Baldwins KickStart Young Entrepreneur Awards – £20,000 prize

Young entrepreneurs (18-25) are encouraged to apply now for up to £20,000 with Baldwins Accountants.

Baldwins KickStart Young Entrepreneur Awards is a national competition for young entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business or have recently done so (trading date must be on or after 31st August 2016).

Entrants should submit their details and ideas here. Entries will then be whittled down to ten semi-finalists before three finalists have the opportunity to present their ideas to a live audience at a gala dinner in November at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.

The prize includes a £10,000 grant along with £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice.

Entries close August 31st 2017.

For further information visit the Baldwins Accountants website here.

Furness FSB calling for young business owners

“FSB at the Lancashire and Cumbria region, is full of old gits”

In an bid to attract the next generation of Federation of Small Business members, Phil Collier, chairman of Furness FSB has just announced that they are inviting young entrepreneurs and business owners to attend an event on the 17th of October at Abbey House Hotel in Barrow. The event will feature talks from Dan Austin, managing director of Lake District Farmers and Kerry Kolbe, co-director of Signal Film and Media. Both will be talking about their experiences as young entrepreneurs.

For more information read the InTheBay article here.

Attendance to the event is free with a glass of fizz on arrival, click here to register.

Has the Apprentice ruined what it means to be an entrepreneur?

Is entrepreneurship really a world of arrogance, back biting and dishonesty?

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The Apprentice is back, marking ten years of searching for that illusive apprentice who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, and determination, required to succeed in the business world. However – is The Apprentice an accurate portrayal of what it really takes to be an entrepreneur?

No, it is not.

According to a recent YouGov poll, business related TV programme like The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den have significantly affected the nation’s understanding of entrepreneurship, and it appears that we now see this world as “dog eat dog” with corrupt and dishonest individuals. Whilst small businesses and apprenticeships are promoted and hailed by politicians as encouraging opportunities for young people, this fictitious, stereotypical portrayal of apprentices are unhelpful and damaging, with only 3% believing that the entrepreneurial world is populated by considerate, caring people. Parents may no longer encourage their children to become business leaders, whilst young adults will not see the value in pursuing their entrepreneurial ventures for fear of the ruthless business world.

Viewers understand that these programmes are produced with controversy  and entertainment in mind;  the contestants are playing the game and are arguably chosen for their personality and character, rather than their business acumen. With this in mind, why is there so much distrust for ‘entrepreneurs’ and why have we allowed entertainment to cloud our perception of hardworking people who make things happen?

Read more here, and let us know what you think – do you watch The Apprentice and what does this negative perception of entrepreneurship mean to you?

Entrepreneur’s Corner

An interview with past student and entrepreneur Nick Churchill – Evans, BSc Hons Management Science Operational Research 1994, Lonsdale College

Nick Churchill-Evans - Cloudthing 670 x 200 banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

To hear live alumni tales of starting a business, book your place at the next ‘Startup Stories’ event on 19th November  here.

Nick supports the development of entrepreneurial talent at Lancaster University through his support for the Lancaster University Enterprise Centre.

 What first got you thinking about starting a business Nick?

OK, one night I and  three of my, my fellow ‘diligent hard working students had a conversation about the theory of building a business; we decided that the bedrock of a good business came down to one thing; we didn’t know anything really… but this is what we thought ‘It was about customer service’. So we talked about running we a sandwich shop; we could know all our customers names, we could give them love when they come in, welcome them, we could give them big fillings because the fillings are really small overhead in the scale of the whole business…That was the theory; Unfortunately it turns out we knew absolutely nothing about sandwiches, because we hadn’t done a sandwich course! From those early pipedreams, two of us actually decided to go ahead and start a business. It was that, or get on a graduation training scheme with Shell or someone. I am no big environmentalist, but I really didn’t fancy doing that!

How did you get started in your first business venture?

My best friend and I formed a business, luckily nothing to do with sandwiches… I had done a degree by that point in operational research, so I knew a little bit about looking at businesses and looking at business problems and using maths and stats to fix them. My friend did Operational Management (which was for less clever people!). What we did was literally go out and bamboozle our way into some contracts. I only looked about fourteen as well, I really don’t know quite know how we did it. I think it was simply blind disbelief that we could actually fail.

What kind of work were you doing to get things off the ground?

We picked up a couple of contracts, helping some customers to look at their businesses and a bit of management consultancy. The solutions to those problems were actually writing some software so we ended up being computer programmers as well.

So it was all going really well?

Sadly that only lasted about two years. We knew nothing, (even less than we knew about management consultancy to be fair); nothing about contracts and getting things agreed in a way that was water tight, where each party understood what they were doing and what they were going to get. I won’t bore you with the details but tears were involved, there was much gnashing of teeth, we almost came to fisty cuffs, (not my partner and me, him and me versus the other party.) In the end we thought let’s just draw the business to a close.

That must have been hard, how did you bounce back?

All my friends had great jobs with blue chip companies. I thought that they were living their lives on expenses and having a great time, so I thought, ‘I’ll go and grab some of that!’, and I did for fifteen great years until the company I was working for was sold to Capita. I think the guys I’m in business with and I lasted three months under the new regime. We all lookoperation waveed at one another in a meeting one day and I think I might have been the first person to say ‘There has got to be a better way of making a living than working for these guys,’ and everyone went …’Oh yeah.’ So we launched ‘Operation Wave’, as in wave goodbye to Capita!

 You’re stepping into serial entrepreneur territory now!  What did you do in the next business?

We decided we would try consultancy again. Whilst we had made a few quid, working for a big company, we had spent it all on children and wives. We all had big mortgages, big responsibilities. We needed to bootstrap and bootstrap fast. So we took some clients on and built some software for them. In 2011 we launched cloudThing and I left Capita in 2013.  What I did was get to start a business without taking any loans and that has really been done by going and finding some customers.

They say selling is the steepest learning curve in your own business, what would you say?

Let me tell you it is quite hard selling, but what we did is the ‘Entrepreneur’s Hustle’.  You pick the phone up, get on the email and, get hold of as many people as you know and you beg for them to do business with you. Basically that is what we have done…shamelessly. Then, when you have done something with them, or they say, ‘No! We can’t!’  we ask,  ‘Who else can you refer me to?’ Honestly, we have built up the best part of two million pounds worth of revenue over the last 18 months or so by doing that.

What has surprised you most during this journey?

I think the thing that has surprised me most, is the warmth of human kindness, out there. I haven’t looked at the stats but, of every hundred people that you ask for help, I bet a quarter of them will do something for you. Most of my LinkedIn posts start ‘Help!’,  because I  figured that’s basically what I am looking for; I might as well be really up front about it and a bit of transparency and honesty about where you are is really helpful.

What are your top tips for student entrepreneurs?

I’d encourage you to build your networks now! If you are not already, get on LinkedIn. It’s build your networksa gold mine of people and there are loads of people that are itching to give you advice about who to go and talk to about getting grants, how to go about crowd sourcing money; loads of people that will help you if you just ask for the help.

What did you learn about yourself that you can share with others?

I found out was that actually I  am not as clever as I thought I was when I was an arrogant twenty one year old with a degree,  shaking my fists in the air and thinking I was going to rule the world. My co-directors of cloudThing are three of the smartest guys I have ever worked with, and they haven’t quite figured out that I am not as clever as they think I am! When you are looking at your network, think about who you want to work with. Who has skills that compliment your own? You don’t have to go into business with them necessarily, but you might find that you can collaborate and help one another.

What would your advice be to students thinking of starting a business?

If you can get out of university and start your business, or, ideally start it before, and bootstrap it, without getting onto the salary train, I would massively recommend trying it. I was welcome in my parent’s house, to a certain extent, for a while anyway, so I didn’t have to worry about unpaid rent. It is much more difficult once you have mortgage and all those things, and children bless them! So… do it … do it now, you’re interested enough to be finding out about it, so you have got what it takes in my opinion. Go try it!

Do it now

With his software development company cloudThing, Nick works with and invests in entrepreneurs, start-ups and fast growing businesses to develop the technology upon which they deliver their services and upon which their businesses are founded. He has a passion for agile business through beautiful software and infrastructure architecture that can flex to unforeseen market opportunity, scale rapidly, yet stretch capital as far as it can go.  The philosophy that Nick and his colleagues work to is that, “Everything we do should ‘build future’ for our clients”.

You can view Nick’s LinkedIn profile here.

Deflated, directionless and lost

Christian Simpson

 

 

A guest blog from a totally practical business coach, mentor and teacher  

She said she’d lost her “mojo”.

Despite reaching a major milestone in her entrepreneurial career, here she was, lacking the very drive, hunger and focus that had got her there.

It was last Friday.

I sat in a room with forty or so business owners observing a “hot seat” conversation between this lady, Dianne, and her mentor.

Dianne’s business has grown significantly in the past couple of years, to the point where she proudly announced it had a million in the bank for the first time.

A significant achievement. One you’d think would fan the flames of her passion, drive and commitment even more.

Not so. The exact opposite was the case.

She was deflated, directionless, and lost.

It didn’t take long for the cause of the effect to be revealed. Nothing is hidden from those who have the “ears to hear”. We can’t help but communicate our issues, even though we can’t see them ourselves (it’s hard to see the picure when you’re in the frame).

Our language – not just what we say but how we say it – reveals everything.

In the course of the conversation, she revealed a bombshell.

Boom.

She’d built her business by being consistently on top of the numbers. Every day she looked at the sales ledger and made decisions accordingly. She bemoaned the recently deployment of “Salesforce” (the CRM software) in her business because it “screwed up” her reporting process.

Could that be why her “mojo” was lost?

Nope.

Sure, the learning curve with any new system is disruptive, frustrating and traumatic, but there was much to more to this than a short term distraction.

To be resolved successfully, our problems must be addressed at the level beneath the one at which they occur.

So what was the “bombshell”?

Dianne had already mentioned how “surprised” she’d been at how helpful it was to “write her challenge down” when applying for the “hot seat” time with her mentor. And a little further on, the moment came.

Her mentor asked if she had a clear picture of what success looks like for her and her business.

She paused.

“No not really. But I don’t think that’s important.”

Bingo!

There’s the problem, right there.

This lady lacked vision. She couldn’t “see” the success she aspires to.

Her mind had no image to work with. And the mind can’t create what it can’t see.

Worst of all, she held the belief that such things are unimportant.

When the appropriate break in proceedings came, I spoke into what I’d observed:

“Dianne, I’d like to challenge your thinking on a couple of things you’ve said. You mentioned earlier how surprisingly helpful you found it to write out your thoughts regarding your problem. You also said you didn’t think having a clear picture of what success looked like for you was important. I respectfully suggest that’s the issue right there. There’s a powerful proverb that states “where there is no vision, the people perish”, you think in pictures – we all do – and if you can’t see what success looks like for you, you can’t create it”.

I then suggested she write out, by hand, the future she intends to experience.

My suggestion didn’t resonate. I could tell straight away from Dianne’s demenour and facial expression that she didn’t buy into it all, or if she did, it wasn’t to the level where she’d act on my suggestion.

I understood. I wasn’t coaching her after all, I was offering a suggestion. And Dianne is very analytically led. She’s been programmed to see the world in a certain way, where hard, factual evidence reigns supreme and is all there is be trusted.

The process of visioning the future, or “imagineering” as Walt Disney referred to it, is looked upon as either unnecessary or an absurd waste of time by most business owners.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, being on top of the numbers is vitally important in business. Of course it is. I’d be an idiot to suggest otherwise.

But the numbers can only get you so far.

Where there is no vision the people perish.

The statement doesn’t mean people physically perish. It means they fail to be all they could be – because they fail to use the mind effectively.

It can’t call forth what it can’t see. Show me the person who lacks an image of what success looks like in their mind’s eye and I’ll show you a a person who lacks direction – regardless of what level they’re at.

Even the busiest, hard working, relatively successful entrepreneur can soon find herself lacking direction, drive and purpose. Despite a million sitting in the bank, Dianne finds herself lacking the “mojo” that put the million there in the first place.

Where there is no vision the people perish.

Ignore those pearls of wisdom at your peril, because it’ll eventually bite you on the backside.

You are a creative being. You’re never NOT creating. Unfortunately, for most, they’re creating much of the same, over and over again, because they’re NOT conscious in the act of creation.

It pays not to follow the crowd. If you haven’t grasped that truth yet, you’ve made a diabolical career choice.

If you can’t see the “dream”, I guarantee it’ll stay a dream.

Christian Simpson is an  internationally acclaimed expert in professional coaching, transformational leader of entrepreneurs.

To share your ideas and dreams or get involved with shaping other peoples’ come and see us at the drop in in The Base Wednesdays 2-4pm.

 

Don’t miss ‘Start Up Stories’ on 11th June

 

 

'I'd have to rate an English Literature degree because the skills I used...taking information and assimilating it and presenting it for PR, marketing, business partners.'

‘I’d have to rate an English Literature degree because of the skills I used…taking information and assimilating it and presenting it for PR, marketing, business partners.’

Entertainment, wisdom and valuable career insights for all, from enterprising Lancaster University Alumni

11th June 2015, 6-9pm, Brandrigg Room (Barker House Farm)

Book now on Target Connect to secure your place.

If you’re an undergraduate or a postgraduate student ‘scratching your head’ for career inspiration, or even if you  think know where you’re heading, you can’t fail to be enlightened by what our enterprising alumni share with us at ‘Start Up Stories’.

Back by popular demand, this is a story telling event where Lancaster enterprising alumni form all  disciplines and sectors return to campus to tell the stories of their personal development journeys; transitions from blue chip careers to starting their their own businesses, making a life and a living from their research or simply fulfilling their purpose by doing something to make positive change for people.

You ‘ll learn about the highs, the lows, the failures and the learning that are the pathway to success on this winding journey we call a career, and you’ll hear it first hand from people who are doing what they love and loving what they do in their own ventures.

As a potential employee, manager or entrepreneur, you really can’t fail to learn something valuable and you might meet a future employer, a mentor or simply expand your networks.

Stories will be told to the magic of live illustration and there will be nibbles and refreshments.

Book now on Target Connect to secure your place.

This event is possible because of generous donations to the Alumni Friends Fund.

Designing a world where people come first

People hands

An RSA Event Thursday 28th May 2015 at 18:00

 LISTEN LIVE from 6pm on 28th May 2015

 WATCH LIVE using the embedded player, above, or on the RSA YouTube channel

Government, business, the lives we lead, the food we eat, the way our children are brought up, the way we relate to the natural world around us – it’s all become too big and distant and industrialised. Inhuman. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to put people first. It’s time to make the world more human.

Steve Hilton, visiting professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, believes that the frustrations people have with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems in the systems that dominate our modern world – systems that are broken because they’ve grown too far from the human scale.

At the RSA, he shows how change is possible, offering the latest research, compelling stories and case studies from all over the world across industry, politics, education, design and social action to show us what can happen when we make our world more human. A more local, more accountable and more human way of living, he argues, will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.

More information

For more information contact RSA Public Events at:

+44 (0)20 7451 6868

rsa.events@rsa.org.uk

If you’re interested in contributing to designing a world where people come first check out a new Lancaster University student group @USocialVenture.

 

The Science of Persuasion

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This animated video describes the six universal ‘Principles of Persuasion’.

You can apply these ideas in your day to day work working with others, and in your marketing and communications with your customers.

The video outlines the six key shortcuts which have been scientifically proven to make you most effective and able to influence, and is based on the research in Dr. Cialdini’s groundbreaking book, ‘Influence’. This video is narrated by Dr. Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin, CMCT.

You can watch the animation here.

Source: http://www.influenceatwork.com 24.3.2015 (Dr Robert B Cialdini)

 

 

 

 

Dare you enter the Dragons’ Den?

Do you need cash for your business idea?

Dragons' Den

BBC Dragons’ Den gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their proposals to a panel of the UK’s most successful business people.  They have pledged to invest their own money in the best ideas.

If you are an entrepreneur, with a fantastic business idea or product that is investment ready, then we want to hear from you.

For an application form:

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Support for your application

Successful local entrepreneurs who have won investment from the Dragons’ in the past are FGH Security and Kirsty Henshaw .

If you are interested in submitting an application, please contact the Enterprise Team via enterpriseteam@lancaster.ac.uk to discuss how we might support you, e.g. by critiquing your business idea or plan, or creating pitching practice opportunities.

3-1-5 Health Club Business To Business Breakfast Meeting

Speed Networking at 3-1-5 on Friday morning – get an early morning workout first!

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This Friday! 30th January 3-1-5 is hosting Business 2 Business breakfast meeting in partnership with Audi Blackburn from 7.45am until 10am. What do you need to do to run the business you really want to run? And, what would it feel like? Would you like to discuss this further with like-minded business colleagues? Then come along to our Speed Networking morning at 3-1-5 Health Club and if you are really keen, why not have a workout beforehand with our world class trainers from 6.45am? Just RSVP to Louise@x-force.co.uk before 28th Jan 2015.

Click here for more information.