Financial Blockbuster

Last week I went to an event Higher Education Entrepreneurship Group event on Financial Literacy for Entrepreneurship: What to teach, and how?

This event focused on what’s important for students of enterprise and potential entrepreneurs to learn about accounting and finance, and how best to teach it.

It was an opportunity to discuss, share practice, get new ideas, and network with colleagues across the sector.

One of the most engaging and accessible sessions of the day was by Lionel Bunting of the University of Chichester, who brought a little glitz and glamour to the more mundane aspects of business planning.

Lionel showcased a creative and practical approach, designed to change the way students see and think about business problems and aspects that they’re more likely to shy away from.

With his contextualised real world based exercise; a film festival, he gives students the opportunity and ability to get to grips with all aspects of planning such as operations, marketing, generating income and forecasting sales. Setting up a business can be fun, teaching students practical enterprise skills should be equally as fun.

The talk and presentation was based on a case study workshop Lionel developed on the planning and costing out of a film festival event for an independent cinema. The workshop enables students to work with and develop a range of enterprise and employability skills as well as learn about a business model and sector.

There were other great examples of best practice shared on the day and you can see some of them here.

To hear about best practice we’re sharing on, please register with LEEN (Lancaster University Enterprise Educators Network) and to share yours drop us a line and we will happily post about it on our blog.

National Enterprise Educator Awards 2016

Nominations and applications are now open for the National Enterprise Educators Awards 2016.


Nominate an individual or apply as a team under one of the following categories:

  • Enterprise catalyst – an individual enterprise or entrepreneurship educator/champion who is driving transformational change inside or outside the curriculum.
  • HE Team Enterprise – a team of HE staff delivering exceptional enterprise or entrepreneurship education inside or outside the curriculum.
  • FE Team Enterprise – a team of FE staff delivering exceptional enterprise or entrepreneurship education inside or outside the curriculum.

The deadline for nominations and applications is midnight Wednesday the 1st of June 2016.

A shortlist will be announced in July and winners will be presented with a £1000 cheque and trophy at the gala dinner and award ceremony of IEEC2016 in September.

Find out more about the awards and nomination/application here

A fair days pay for a fair days work?

Jon Powell on minimum wage, living wage, CEO pay…liv wage2

The Chancellor recently announced the introduction of a National Living Wage. This isn’t going to replace the National Minimum Wage and isn’t on a par with the Living Wage, so what is it?

From April 2016 the National Living Wage (NLW) will apply but only to those aged 25 and over and will be set at £7.20, 50p more than the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 year olds but less that the Living Wage (LW) recommended by the Living Wage Foundation of £8.25.

Assuming 233 working days of 8 hours that equates to an approximate salary of £12,500 on the NMW, £13,420 on the NLW or £15,378 on the LW.

So a 25 year old on the NLW will receive a salary of £13,420, but a 20 year old doing the same job would be salaried £9,880 (£5.30 hr on the NMW). And that doesn’t take into account the full cost to the employer e.g. NI, pension etc.  The salary will be 36% higher for the 25 year old. And don’t forget the employer cannot discriminate on (w)age and just employ the younger applicant.

So that begs the question of a fair days pay for a fair days work. Does the 25 year old doing the same job deserve a 36% higher salary?

With all the confusion over what employers should legally pay their employees, what about the moral viewpoint? Dan Prince CEO of Seattle based tech company Gravity announced earlier this year that he would raise the salary of every employee to $70,000 (£47,000) and cut his own salary to the same amount. The figure was based on research by the University of Princeton, which found that an income above that point did not have a significant impact on a person’s happiness.

So if you are an employer that now has to pay more for the same “fair days’ work” or an employee that will benefit from an increase in salary as a result of the National Living Wage, do you feel any happier? Or are you still wondering how much your CEO is taking home and wishing you worked for Dan Prince…..


Jon Powell is the LU Enterprise Team Manager and a Director of Enterprise Educators UK, Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce and Employer Solutions Ltd.

The magic that happens when Alumni and students are in town

A film about stories, inspiration and working together to make new things happen

Current student Sara Procter and alumnus Allan Costa have a lot in common. They are both on a path to doing what they love, working with their passions and making things happen.

I worked with them both recently as part of the ‘Startup Stories’ series of events. Allan was one of six former students who joined us at our last event in June, to share tales of their entrepreneurial journeys with our current students. Sara took up the challenge to capture and cut this lovely film you can see above.

Sara is a Fine Art student with a passion for film making and animation. A raw talent with a natural creative ability in film making, animation and storytelling, she has a vision for where she wants to be in life, but as for most people, the pathway is unclear.

You can spend a lot of time thinking, dreaming and worrying about the future. What you have to do is make a start by ‘doing’, ‘trying’ and ‘experimenting’ with new things. When you do the pathway starts to unfold before you.

Sara is a student who understands this. She is exploring and finding her element, working with her passions to develop herself and her potential by getting involved and as a result adding value to others through her creative talents. Sara’s network and contacts and opportunities will open up as a result of what she has achieved though this film; she has started the journey of getting to where she wants to be.

It wasn’t rocket science, and there wasn’t any grand plan we just decided we would try and do something together. Sara came along with her camera and her talent, captured the event on film and lifted out one of the most compelling elements to create a short story. We have worked closely in the final product, shaping, tweaking, refining and Sara has been totally open to working in this way; we have all learned something new through collaboration. Our thanks and congratulations to Sara for being a Student Enterprise Champion, and to Allan Costa too for his support in the final sound production.

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson says that human resources are like natural resources, they are usually hiding just under the surface and you need to make a bit of an effort to find them. If you are a student or staff member with a talent, idea or skill which you would like to unearth or develop, you can work with the enterprise team to make new things happen. Get in touch here.

If you are a Lancaster University Alumnus and would like to support the activities of the Enterprise Centre working with young entrepreneurs you can get in touch here.

Everyone is welcome at these events so don’t miss out! Staff students and alumni can book places via Target Connect; Log in and search for ‘Startup Stories’.

The BIG Breakfast Networking Event

The BIG Breakfast, 25th September 2015, Lancaster House Hotel, 8.30am – 10.30am


Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Ethical Small Traders Association (ESTA), are inviting participants to their second BIG Breakfast event; network and engage with local business from across the district.

The event is open to members, non members and Lancaster University students and staff, and tickets can be purchased through the Chamber here. This informal breakfast event is a great opportunity to hear from local business representatives and professionals, and promote your own business – you are also welcome to bring along a banner to get your activities noticed.

Find out more by following this link.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

A canvas that describes relationships within an entrepreneurship ecosystemeeecosystemWhat is an entrepreneurship ecosystem?

There are so many ways to define an entrepreneurship ecosystem, yet, it appears there is no single definition or concept which is widely agreed upon and understood. How, therefore, can we expect our startups and enterprise educators to extract the wealth of knowledge and opportunities in our local areas if the ecosystem goes unrecognised and misunderstood?

Dr Thomas Funke believes there are eleven basic building blocks which show the logic behind a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem, with the main areas being: Ideas & Talents, Support & Infrastructure, Startup Community, Policy and Finance, and Trends & Markets. Funke’s canvas is designed to ensure success factors are not forgotten or neglected when trying to succeed in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Want to know more? Click here.

Aim for a start up, not a grad scheme

Enterprising graduates are better suited to start up companies, rather than big business grad schemes

enterprising grads3

Graduate schemes are incredibly competitive and often big businesses can be selective with their chosen graduate employees due to the large number of applications they receive every year. These large corporations, it seems, have their pick of the crop and smaller businesses miss out on top talent.

The Guardian report that due to the popularity of graduate schemes, there is a growing issue of skills shortages affecting smaller business owners who struggle to attract univers and more must be done to encourage graduates to consider start up firms as well as well known, national brands to ensure a healthy recruitment pipeline for all.

Whilst it may be true that there is often greater job security working for large corporations, this does not necessarily outweigh the job satisfaction and varied, fast paced roles offered by new and ambitious business ventures.

Read more here.

LU awarded EEUK Research Project Fund

‘High Impact’ to demonstrate the importance of embedded enterprise culture


Enterprise opportunities at Lancaster University come in many forms; curricular and extra curricular, competitions, placements and funding, to name but a few.

Lancaster University has been awarded £5,000 of the total £20,000 Research Project Fund to conduct a new research project to identify the potential strategic impact of an embedded enterprise culture.

Simon Harrison, Enterprise Champion Project Manager, said, “We have curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for every student right across campus, from taught interventions and mentorship, through competitions and placements, to workspaces and funding. But they’re not being counted directly towards our strategic KPIs, so this project promises to really unlock the value of enterprise to Lancaster in a way that will be meaningful to other EEUK members.”

Although the research will be conducted by a consultant with suitable experience within HEIs, the Enterprise Team will be looking to identify a Research Buddy internally to ensure that the research can contribute to Lancaster’s own academic portfolio.  To find out more, or to read the submission, please email

To read other University finalists also awarded with the Research Project Fund, follow this link.

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.


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?


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.”


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.


ChinaUK Entrepreneurship Challenge Semi- Final

Support the 8 teams through to the semi-final- Thursday 25th June 2015


Drop in from 10am-4pm, LUMS, Lecture Theatre 2 on Thursday 25th June.

The ChinaUK Entrepreneurship Challenge has reached semi final stage: here’s your chance to support the final 8 teams and hear their pitches for developing commercial relationships and improving business collaboration between China and the UK.

Finalists have the opportunity to win £13,000 cash prizes and £500,000 for the best business plans.

Find out more about the challenge here.