Encouraging youth entrepreneurship
We’ve found this to be one area that is particularly well promoted. There seems to be a very successful culture of bootcamps and roadshows specifically aimed at young entrepreneurs in further and higher education.
Big Ideas Wales www.businesswales.gov.wales/bigideas/ works at a national level and covers everything from inspiration to launch. Also, at a regional level, initiatives like The Beacon Bursary http://www.beacon-enterprise.co.uk/beacon-bursary/ are having a huge impact – their bootcamps are massively oversubscribed and winners gain access to incredible business opportunities and entrepreneurial mentors.
Educational institutions seem particularly enthusiastic in the field of business and entrepreneurship. Educational Institutions such have a range of academic, vocational education and training programmes. These range from pre-entry to postgraduate level. Many also offer further education, adult and community learning, higher education and work based learning. They are also active partners in many other regional and national enterprises e.g. The Beacon Bursary.
Virtual College, one of the UK’s most successful and award winning online education providers, is also expanding it’s portfolio of both short and long term courses.
Test Trading Days, like those organised by Cardiff Metropolitan University are also hugely successful. Support organisations arrange for a space for the test trading to take place, this is normally in a location that would be beyond the financial, risk and negotiating ability of young entrepreneurs to secure. Workshops are held leading up to the event on topics such as pricing, sales, presentation, networking and evaluation. The test trading day comes with professional mentoring and is concluded with an evaluation of skills, product and customer feedback.
Incubators & Seed Finance
The popularity of the business incubator has exploded over the last 10 years. Pretty much everywhere that’s worth mentioning seem to have a business incubator. There are so many in Europe that no one actually knows how many there are! A comprehensive guide is available on Robin Wauters tech.eu post http://tech.eu/research/29/there-are-roughly-100-active-startup-accelerators-europe/
The Pros of good start ups were identified as follows:
- Incubators are often supported by industry experts and successful entrepreneurs who have the ability to offer technical advice and make useful networking connections.
- Some people (particularly young entrepreneurs) require significantly more help than others – incubators can provide this.
- The life of a start-up is extremely risky during its early stages simply because it hasn’t made the switch from seed financing to self supporting income. Accelerator programmes aim to reduce this time period, therefore increasing the likelihood of success.
- Investment is usually not far away for those with potential.
- They offer a creative environment from which to share ideas and support innovative thinking.
- Start-ups can work collectively on projects or call on each others skills to further their own abilities.
The Cons of Incubators are:
- Criticism that they offer ‘too much’ support, or more support than REAL entrepreneurs want/need. For many, the joy is in ‘achieving against the odds’ rather than being handed everything on a plate.
- Not all Incubators are vetted. There is some talk of some private incubators having less than altruistic motives.
Innovative Training Methods
These include innovative yet simple games to encourage reluctant entrepreneurs! One example can be found on the YETI site http://yetierasmus.eu/2016/01/11/i-dont-want-to-be-an-entrepreneur/ Big Ideas Wales’ Enterprise Catalyst and library of video stories also stood out as being exciting and useful.
We also found very effective use of other methods and events, including (but not exclusively) The Global Enterprise Challenge, Apprentice Competitions, HE Enterprise Symposium, Use of Role Models, Start Up Workshops, Self-employment workshops,1:1 Mentoring, Global Enterprise Week and Enterprise Ambassadors. These usually occurred in conjunction with Universities or Colleges.
Promoting Start Up Communities
We found a distinct lack of understanding on how social media can be used most effectively. Over the past few years, an interesting transformation has occurred in the business world. Social media has become less of an optional marketing opportunity and more of a priority. In fact, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become integral parts of brand awareness, content distribution, lead generation, and customer acquisition strategies for businesses. This is especially true for startups working with smaller budgets and grassroots campaigns. However, despite its importance, very few startups and new ventures understand how to maximize the potential of social media. We’ve found that very few startups had a ‘Social Media Strategy’.