Reflective essay entrepreneurship – K1150621

Time flies so fast! It has been almost a year that I started the entrepreneurship in action module, and it is bound to finish. Through this innovative program, I keep good and bad souvenirs but I have developed a wide range of knowledge and skills anyway. Actually, I did not realise it, but when I wrote down the list of all the knowledge I have acquired through the year, I was really surprised and so satisfied.

Indeed, I have been able to expand my general knowledge related to entrepreneurship, meet new people (the mace students), open my mind, improve myself as a person and create a small business with students from other backgrounds.

In this essay, I will present and discuss in a chronological order everything I have learnt in the module. Then I will finish by my personal feeling related to the module and I will conclude and present my future expectations after the university.

 

The first day, I have discovered the customer needs model. This model is about knowing the three basics component that a product has to fulfil to meet the basic customer’s expectation (cognitive, emotional, and physical).

Then, during the same day, I have learnt the importance of observing my environment to be able to identify gaps and fill them with entrepreneurship.

 

As a classmate of mine from MACE class said: “In general for a practical project, people have to gather and do researches via observation, interviewing, create the scenario or using any methods, in order to collect as much details as possible. Moreover, after conceiving the relationships between each element, this principle will provide the analysis processes as a framework to guide through the user experience”. (Kanin, 2011)

 

Then, with the “shoes experiment”, we had to ask feedback to people randomly to know what they thought about their shoes and then create our own pair of shoes to respond to the feedback we had from the university students and staff.

This shoe’s experiment was going to be useful after because we had to use it again when we have worked on the Yammy concept to ask mothers what they thought about our product and concept. As a result, it definitely helped us to improve the Yammy plate (choice of material, of design,…)

 

Collecting and using efficiently feedback can be a powerful tool for strengthening a brand and the credibility with customers (Chris Birk, 2012). That is why it is highly encouraged to develop a strategy to collect feedback from customer. The business should even reward customer to have feedback with is a precious information to improve the quality of a service or a product and gain a competitive advantage (Chris Birk, 2012). The first thing entrepreneurs should do before opening their business is speaking with potential customer to exactly know what their expectations are in order to fit them (Carol Tice, 2012). To sum up, seeking for customer feedback is a kind of small market survey.

 

Moreover, during this class, I had the opportunity to work with international students as well as creative students, which was a discovery for me. Working with international students is an advantage due to the fact that it opens the mind to different views and ways to operate in a business. But, at the same time, it has several issues: the language barrier, different communication style and different views of hierarchy (unknown, 2012). If the international team is not well-managed, it will lead to conflict.

That is another teaching of this module for business people. I officially opened myself to a new world: the creative world (with the FRIEZE fair) and then became more creative.

 

Furthermore, I made the choice of being in a group with creative people to enhance my learning in this field. I used to regret this choice but, after having thought about it, it is something which was beneficial for me in a lot of ways. Creativity is really important in business. Businessmen do not like the term creativity due to the fact that they perceive it as expenditure and not as revenue. Creativity can be assimilated as innovation. No creativity = no innovation = stagnation (Mark Batey, 2011). In fact, creativity helps companies to generate a competitive advantage by developing new solutions for customers. Therefore, it helps the company to gain market shares and earn more money so I would conclude by stating that creativity is an investment and not an unrecovered cost.

 

I had to rediscover the basics of marketing, branding and accounting, which are three areas that an entrepreneur has to feel confident with. Otherwise it will be hard for the start-up to perform in the future.

 

The business model CANVAS was a really good learning from this module because it is a visual aid which gives to entrepreneurs a framework to represent the business cycle from the idea generation to the delivery of the service to the customer through all the possible partners. Also, it is often categorized as a business model innovation which will create, capture and deliver value to the customer (Alexander Osterwalder, 2009)

 

I have started the young enterprise experience by taking the sales manager responsibility. As my previous experience used to be in this field, and in accordance with my team members, I have chosen to pursue in this field. Over the experience, I have helped the company developing strategies to improve sales, Even if we did not put all the strategies into action, I have brought something to my team members as well as they bought something to me. We have decided to sell the product online and thanks to the word on mouth (which is completely free and was really efficient for Yammy).

 

During the Yammy experience, the research of the production method was a central question for the team. Despite some tensions and disagreements about the method, we have been able to agree on a safe and cost efficient way by producing the Yammy plates ourselves.

 

As I have said before, managing conflict was a big issue in the team. It was really stressful, but when it is time to analyse what had happened, it was not a really big deal in fact.

First of all, it is important to identify the origins of the conflicts: usually, conflicts are the resultant of four reasons: poor communication, insufficient resources, values or opinions clashes and leadership problem. (Carter McNamara, 2012). In my view, we had all of them in our group. But at the same time, conflicts are inevitable and even necessary within a team to improve the performance of a group (Carter McNamara, 2012). To go over conflicts, team members have to review their job description, improve their relationships with their colleagues, attend trainings, organise their tasks together, organise regular meetings and give the opportunity to employees to give suggestions (Carter McNamara, 2012). The manager should take this responsibility over to ensure an efficient teamwork.

 

The main problem was the high expenditure due to the research of the best production method which has leaded to a loss at the end of the experience. When a company is at a start-up stage, it has to be really careful with the money and wait before investing massive amount of money.

 

Also, I have learnt about social media platforms management. I have discovered how to use face book in a professional way, twitter, pinterest and blog management. Social media platforms are a really good tool for businesses because it improves the awareness of a product or a company on the Internet, can be used for promotion or identify new customer product or service opportunities (Jeff Bullas, 2011). Moreover, social media are usually free or inexpensive and are fast growing trend within the society.

 

Even if I was specialised in sales management before starting the course, I have learnt new ways to operate. I was able to open and run an online selling platform (eBay), we discovered fair trades, which were in my view the best way to sell our product efficiently because of the contact between the customer and seller.

 

This experience enhanced my writing and speaking skills. We have seen in the module how to write and promote a feasibility study and a business plan, which are unavoidable steps due to the fact that it is necessary to obtain funds to start the business and to create awareness.

Then, the Yammy team has made a lot of presentations in front of the other module members and also in front of juries (dragon’s den and final assessment) related to the Yammy plate.

It is something that students do not realise at this stage but being good at presenting is one of the best entrepreneurial quality ever because showing off good communication’s skills and personal attributes influence business angels, customers and all types of investor decision-making whether they will invest in your business or not (Colin Clark, 2008). Some people invest massive fortune in slow-growing product just because they feel an affection regarding to the product or business.

 

 

To conclude this essay, I would like to say that the overall experience was satisfactory. I have acquired knowledge and skills which will help me in my future experience as well as improving myself as a person. For instance, I was not confident about networking in a professional way but now I feel better in this way. In addition, I was able to put my skills into practice, something that I really appreciated through this year and which is better in a subject like entrepreneurship because it makes the learning more efficient.

On the other hand, I have the feeling that it was a failure due to the fact that our business did not have the expected success. But at the same time, this empirical experience can help us in the future to learn from our mistakes to improve and reach a perfection level in the future.

 

I will finish about my future; this module definitely helped me to have a clearer view about what I will do after my master and in the next 5 years. Now I can say that I am 100% sure to launch my own business in the future. It is a matter of time, experience and money. I intend to work before in order to gain some experience to learn and also to raise a minimum capital to invest in a future business. Also, it is about having the suitable personality. To start, manage and expand a business, qualities like self-esteem, self management and responsible are essential to be a good and successful leader (Joanne, 2011). But personally, I will choose my partner and the field of the business more carefully (with serious studies of the environment and the potential customers). To conclude this year, I would say that my definition of entrepreneurship is about bringing solutions to customers’ needs, with limited resources in a creative and innovative way to always make the difference.

 

 

Kanin, (2011), HCD: Human centred design

http://inkkin.wordpress.com/page/2/

 

Chris Birk (2012), Want to Boost Conversions? Promote Positive Customer Feedback

http://diythemes.com/thesis/positive-customer-feedback/

 

Carol Tice (2012), the One Simple Task That Will Help Your Startup Succeed

http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223315

 

Unknown (2012), Teamwork & Communication Challenges Within Multicultural Teams

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/teamwork-communication-challenges-within-multicultural-teams-18801.html

 

Mark Batey (2011), Creativity = Competitive Advantage?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/working-creativity/201109/creativity-competitive-advantage-0

 

Alexander Osterwalder (2009), Book promotion page

http://alexosterwalder.com/

 

Carter McNamara (2012), How to deal with conflict

http://managementhelp.org/interpersonal/conflict.htm

 

Jeff Bullas (2011), 12 Major Business Benefits Of The Social Media Revolution

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/02/14/12-major-benefits-of-the-social-media-revolution/

 

Colin Clark (2008), The impact of entrepreneurs’ oral ‘pitch’ presentation skills on business angels’ initial screening investment decisions – Abstract.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13691060802151945

 

Joanne (2011), 3 personal qualities that are the foundation of success 

http://www.parisandjoanne.com/entrepreneur-school/3-personal-qualities-foundation-for-success/

 

 

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Entrepreneurship and personality

Personality is a factor of success in entrepreneurship. If the person who intends to set up a business does not have the suitable traits to manage it, the risk of failure is higher (according to Uwe Cantner, Rainer Silbereisen and Sebastian Wilfling, personality is important in entrepreneurship and is on the main factors of failure for start up).

But what is the best personality in order to build and run a business. According to Darrell Zahorsky (about.com), entrepreneurs need to have many skills in order to build a successful business. But people tend to have a dominant characteristic of their personality which leads them in their entrepreneurial experience. There are 9 personality types (or 9-point circle of the Enneagram) for entrepreneurs: The improver, the advisor, the superstar, the artist, the visionary, the analyst, the fireball, the hero and the healer.

Some personality types are highly appropriate in some situations. Meanwhile, each personality type has some disadvantages as well which can be a cause of failure if they are not managed. For example, if a person has an improver personality, this person will run a business with a lot of integrity and ethics but will tend to be too perfectionist.

Anyway, knowing what type of entrepreneurial personality is important to identify our strengths and weaknesses to perform in a business.

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The entrepreneurship experience is coming to the end

On the 3rd of May, Yammy had to go to the final examination. The Yammy plate has been judge by 4 people (3 design and business specialists and one of the head of Kingston Business School).

The outcome: Great! Actually, I did not expect such a successful presentation.

First, we have worked a lot on the presentation and the report in order to have a powerful impact on the judges and also to present our loss in the best way as possible. It is not because we made a loss that we have a bad product. We are a start up and we have spent a lot of money researching the best way to produce the Yammy plate. Therefore, we had to highlight this fact. Then, we had the presentation, really stressful due to the high issue (60% of our mark of the whole module) but at the end we were really surprised because the judges have selected our young enterprise within the top 8 among more than 25 competitors. This means that we made a good impact on them and that was a good reward.

So, the entrepreneurship in action module is officially finished. I will describe my feelings about it in the reflective essay I have to do for next week.

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Entrepreneurship is also a culture

I just came back in London after 10 days in France where I have seen my family and my friends before starting a busy summer here for the Olympics.

Entrepreneurship follows me everywhere even during my holidays! Indeed, when I was listening to the radio in my car I could hear about the entrepreneurship situation in France. The guest speaker was telling that entrepreneurship is a culture and that we do not have a powerful one in France. He took the example of the UK where according to him, the entrepreneurial culture is highly developed.

For instance, if we have a look on the statistics, The UK has 4 100 000 firms whereas France has around 2 800 000 (3 400 000 if we include the auto entrepreneur status). So the gap between the 2 countries is huge.

How can we explain this fact? According to the guest speaker on the radio, the UK stimulates the entrepreneurial culture by different way: The administration simplifications (it can take 1 day to open a business in the UK and is costless whereas it takes longer in France due to the administrative procedures), also the training scheme (the UK has a wide range of training for future entrepreneur from low level to high level while France is late on this topic), and entrepreneurship is important in the everyday life (there are special and popular TV programs in the UK about entrepreneurship like the apprentice or Dragon’s den that does not exist in France).

Of course a culture can be developed and improved if people give the resources to contribute to it.

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The second fair at Kinston market the 22nd of March

On Thursday the 22nd of March we have been to the Kingston market trade fair to sell our product Yammy. This fair was a great success for the product as we sold 5 plates and to be honest, we did not expect this success.

What was definitly different from the first fair was the public and that is the main factor of success for this fair. Indeed, at the first fair, the public was mostly students and they did not feel concerned about the product. But at the Kingston market we met mothers who came with children and also grand parents who liked Yammy’s concept. This concern from those segments were really beneficial for us and has shown us that there was a real demand and interest from the target market we had selected.

We hope to sell more plates thanks to our etsy account and also thanks to the ebay account we are going to open soon to have more selling platforms.

This fair is the last event before the final presentation we have on the 3rd of May. Those fair were a good experience to sell our product directly to customers and get feedback on Yammy

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The power of social medias for start-up nowadays

During my entrepreneurship experience, I have noticed that social medias were a great way to help us advertising Yammy and also selling it.

Indeed, first of all, social medias are free and that is a great advantage for start-ups due to the fact that they do not have too much money at the beginning.

Secondly, social medias can reach a large number of people easily. Facebook registers 250 million people, 175 million people have a twitter account, Linkedin connects more than 150 million professionals in the world. Moreover, thanks to the social medias applications, it is possible to filter people according to their needs and their preferences. For instance, if you want to reach people who are health conscious, you just have to look for and go to the health concern social medias groups and put a link on the group pages, and then all the group members are able to see what you propose them.

And thirdly, it is a vital need nowadays to have at least a facebook and twitter account if you are a company (whatever the size). It gives you a competitive advantage and helps you to be shared by people and also favours the “word on mouth” which is the best way to expand a business.

Finally, it is important to mention blogs which are a useful media but tend to decline because of social medias power and also because of the fact that people are less interested about reading and are also really busy and do not take time reading.

Anyway the best strategy about social medias is to try to register everywhere so you can reach a lot of people and get something back. The thing entrepreneurs have to pay attention on when they have to deal with several social medias is that they have to be coherent in what they say in each media. Indeed, if people read 2 different things about the same product or company, they might be confused and it can affect the image of your product or company.

Yammy experience is a good way for us to see the social medias power because we sold 2 plates thanks to the social media (facebook) and we are all going to keep going our efforts in this way.

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The first fair trade and the beginning of Yammy to the market

On the 1st of March, we have been to the fair trade organized by Kingston University (at Penhyl road campus) to show our product Yammy to the public. This trade was useful for 3 reasons:

First of all, we were able to get feedback from the people we talked to and then improve our strategy to be more successful. For instance, some potential customers told us that Yammy was a bit expensive, so we will review our pricing strategy. Then, the fact that Yammy is not microwavable and  dishwasher safe was a problem for some people so we should state those fact on the packaging or on a notice and also insist that the product is completely food safe.

Secondly, we were able to sell our product in another way than the Internet, because at the moment, the Internet represents the only platform where we can sell our product to the public (Etsy and then probably Ebay). Moreover, that is more efficient to sell directly to the customer than on the Internet due to the fact that you have a direct contact with the customer and so you are able to answer questions more easily and convince them better.

Finally, we were able to make our first sale and that gave us an impulsion to go forward and to believe in our product.

The only disadvantage about this fair and that apply only to our product was the fact that our target customer (parents with children between 1 and 4 year old) was not there and many people told us that we could be more successful if we were in a specialized fair for children products.

 

Anyway, this fair was a great time and I hope that the second fair at Kingston town centre the 22nd of March will be even better in term of sales.

 

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