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
Chris Birk (2012), Want to Boost Conversions? Promote Positive Customer Feedback
Carol Tice (2012), the One Simple Task That Will Help Your Startup Succeed
Unknown (2012), Teamwork & Communication Challenges Within Multicultural Teams
Mark Batey (2011), Creativity = Competitive Advantage?
Alexander Osterwalder (2009), Book promotion page
Carter McNamara (2012), How to deal with conflict
Jeff Bullas (2011), 12 Major Business 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.
Joanne (2011), 3 personal qualities that are the foundation of success