Amanda Daniels is Director of Teaching, Learning & Development with responsibility for Enterprise at Coleg Sir Gâr, Llanelli. Becky Pask has recently been made the primary contact for entrepreneurship at the college. I was very pleased that they both found time to chat with me.
Can you give us a brief overview of what the college offers to young people with entrepreneurial ambitions.
Amanda: Becky’s role involves helping students get involved with enterprise activities and projects across the college’s campuses and across all courses.
Becky: The college already offers many entrepreneurial incentives and opportunities, including Global Enterprise Challenge, Coleg Sir Gar’s Apprentice Competition, HE Enterprise Symposium, West Wales Dragons Competition, Big Ideas Wales Role Models, Start Up Workshops, Self-employment workshops,1:1 Mentoring, Global Enterprise Week, Enterprise Ambassadors, drop in sessions with Venture Wales, Dynamo events (both internal and external events) and answering queries regarding business start-ups. The scope is extensive.
What do you think are the key personal attributes someone needs if they’re going to be successful as a self-employed worker/entrepreneur?
Becky: An entrepreneur requires much more than just an idea. They are a rare breed, they posess the ‘E Factor’! It’s someone who possesses unique abilities, characteristics, skills and traits that enable them to beat the odds regardless of the obstacles.
Here are some of the attributes that, in my experience, successful entrepreneurs tend to possess in some measure. However, I will point out very few people are fortunate enough to be born with all of these characteristics, but in Coleg Sir Gâr we pride ourselves on supporting our leaners to develop any and all the required skills.
Desirable traits include tenacity, tolerance of ambiguity, an unwavering passion, open-mindedness, the desire to be an expert, a forward-looking approach, rule breaking, vision, self-belief and an ability to produce a constant flow of ideas.
What are the main obstacles or challenges young entrepreneurs face? These could be internal or external to the individual.
Becky: I recently watched a TED Talk, entrepreneur Max Gouchan talked about the top three most important challenges that young entrepreneurs face: the lack of knowledge, the lack of money and the lack of time.
There are other obstacles and challenges I commonly come across such as overestimating success, negative mindset, poor organisation, being a ‘Jack of All Trades’ and taking on too much at once, motivating themselves and employees and a general lack of support.
My role is to ease these worries and support all our entrepreneurs. Coleg Sir Gâr is privileged to have made excellent links within Carmarthenshire’s private and public sectors. We work together to support all business both new and established.
Give us an insight into your experiences working with young entrepreneurs in HE/FE?
Becky: No two entrepreneurs are the same. Coleg Sir Gâr offers all our entrepreneurs opportunities to develop their skill-set. I am extremely privileged to have the pleasure of working with entrepreneurs. Their passion, drive and creative talents are an inspiration.
The best part of working with entrepreneur is that these people don’t focus on just developing something new – they try to change the world through their innovation, developing technologies or services.
Do you think government agencies provide enough advice and/or assistance? What else COULD be done?
Becky: I feel this is a very difficult task for the Welsh Government and a difficult question to answer. No entrepreneur, no business is the same nor will they require the same support, advice or assistance. I can only answer from a FE/HE prospective: The government websites offer excellent support and services for our students. The Boss website is also an excellent resource. This service can be accessed by phone, online and through a network of hubs located across Wales.
There is an abundance of enterprise and entrepreneurship provision and activities in and around Carmarthenshire, across the private, voluntary and public sectors such as The Local Authority Business Support and The Economic Development Team within Carmarthenshire County Council – both offer support to the business community. The Beacon Centre for Enterprise, The ‘Un Sir Gâr’ (USG) Project, Skills Gateway and Big Ideas Wales have also designed excellent websites containing an abundance of information for entrepreneurs of all ages.
In your experience, how many students actually go on to work for themselves? Of those that don’t, why do they not?
Becky: I am new in post, however I am starting to meet with several past students who are and have been in business since leaving Coleg Sir Gâr.
Coleg Sir Gâr is developing several case studies with the aim of inspiring budding entrepreneurs. These case studies will be about past students and their road to success. Many students want to complete their education before persuing business opportunities, some are just not ready.
As a college we are extremely supportive, and we keep our door open to all our graduates. Graduates often return to our campuses looking for business support and advice. Many new businesses employ new staff and apprentices for whom we offer a lot support. Students at the college have the security of knowing that our support is ongoing – even after they’ve graduated.
I’m sure you can you give an example of a success story i.e. a student that went on to achieve their ambitions in entrepreneurship:
[Editorial, below, provided by Coleg Sir Gâr]
Jordan Prileszky is a young Carmarthen-based designer who is in his second year of studying BA (hons) Fashion at Carmarthen School of Art. Recently launched his own online street-wear company Deathcru, which he has been pursuing alongside his studies since September. Since launching his brand online he has quickly gained traction, gaining almost 900 followers on Instagram, and has been receiving an average of one to two orders per week – amazing progress for so early on in his career.
Jordan said: “I came up with an initial design whilst studying fashion at Jobs Well and was really happy with it, and seeing as it was always my aim to design street-wear, I thought that I’d launch my own company. While the content of my course and study of high fashion definitely informs my designs, I am ultimately more interested in designing everyday street-wear. My aim in the next couple of years is to branch into creating sweatshirts and jackets, in addition to the t-shirts and hats I’m selling online now”.
Jamie Lousie Hawkins, the programme director of the fashion course, commented: “It’s great that Jordan has been entrepreneurial whilst studying for his degree putting him in great stead for his future career direction. Fashion is a competitive industry and it’s amazing that he is starting his business now and finding his own niche in the global market.”
Jordan likes to engage customers and admirers of the brand through his Instagram page @deathcruclothing. He keeps his followers in the loop and creates a lot of hype by posting design ideas and asking for feedback, in addition to reposting photos of customers wearing and promoting the Deathcru brand. He also engages and promotes his brand by creating online competitions. He added: “My biggest achievement to date has been receiving my first international order in my online shop. It was a major thing. The customer was from New York and they ordered two t-shirts and a hat!”
Thank you very much for your time. I know you’re both very busy!
Amanda: It’ll be interesting for us to follow the YETI project. Good luck!