Reflecting on the learning process
Prior to venturing onto the Start-up a business module I had a vague personal goal, to start a business one day. I did not expect that as a result of this module I would develop my aim to become something specific and I definitely did not dream that I would have accomplished this aim so soon.
In October last year, at the very beginning of the Start-up a Business module, I presented an aim, which I recorded on my blog. My personal aim ran concurrent with the requirements of the module, therefore both elements formed my overall aim –
- To create a successful, viable and motivational business from scratch, with the assistance of my peers, mentors and my lecturer.
First and foremost, as a result of the route that the Start-up a business module has directed me in, I believe that I have gained a set of invaluable skills, which have enabled me to achieve my overall aim. Without a doubt the module has allowed me to absorbed more information and acquired more knowledge, which I will actually use and importantly, remember, than any other module that I have studied whilst completing my Business Studies degree.
Something that I have learnt, which may seem inane to some, but has become something I will continue to do, is to write down my goals or aims. Over the course of the module I have attended many guest talks and numerous speakers have noted this as a helpful technique when giving advice. As this is something I want to continue, I researched the art of setting and achieving aims. I found that others also believe writing down your goals can assist in reaching an achievement. “The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible” (MindTools, 2015) Thus, I will try to make my future aim tangible by recording it –
- To develop the BeeBra, in order to enable it to achieve its full potential, in sales, brand reognition and growth.
As previously stated, I have gained a lot of experience as a result of the Start-up a Business module and I believe these lessons will help me to achieve my future goal.
I now have even more experience in customer facing sales environments, through taking part in three separate trade fairs. I was not only present on the day, but also partook in the preparation for the event by assisting in the design of our stands and researching sales techniques, as this is something I considered to be a weakness of mine. On the day, my main duties included setting-up, managing the float, issuing receipts and interacting with customers and judges. All of this was great practice for attaining the vital sales that Bee Sportswear needs to continue.
Over the past six months I have found myself in many unfamiliar situations. From this I have identified a strength in myself. I can adapt accordingly to situations and think on my feet. For example, I met with one of our manufacturers on numerous occasions. On these occasions I was sure to present myself in a professional and polite manor and prepared to ensure the proficiency of the meeting. However, I had not made mitigations for problems that might arise. As we had little knowledge of the technical side of creating a pattern and prototype for the BeeBra, problems were bound to occur. We were unaware that our design did not cater to certain needs, such as, the material being too heavy, meaning it did not fit with the requirements of the sewing machines. Consequently, during one of the initial meeting with our first manufacturer, the bra design required alterations to be made imminent, so that we could keep to our time constraints. My colleague and I were able to adapt the design there and then, without compromising on our focus, which was the pocket.
As business practice encompasses many factors, I’m certain that other complications will arise in the future that could jeopardise the attainment of my future aim. However, as a result of my experience in unfamiliar situations, I now recognise my strengths and have the confidence to overcome the difficulties. Furthermore, through building relationships with our manufacturers I have also acquired experience in communicating and negotiating effectively, for example, with regards to invoicing and making payments. In the future I will continue to form business relationships, which if strong, can promote efficiency and decrease transaction costs for Bee Sportswear (Erfle, Keat and Young, 2014). Therefore, the practice and experience in forming healthy business relationships is valuable to us, because we are an SME with financial limited resources (Lofving, Safsten and Winroth, 2014).
As previously discussed, communication and co-operating with external stakeholders is important, yet communication and co-operation with colleges is just as important, if not more (Priya, 2009). As Finance Director I was responsible for each department’s budget and subsequently it was down to me to keep all of the internal stakeholders, the company directors, informed and up to date with regard to our financial position. My position has allowed me to cultivate effective ways of communicating. This will contribute to the maintenance of the strong working relationships that exist within Bee Sportswear, as the majority of members intend to continue with the company in the future. In addition, because of my role as the Finance Director I am now able to create and understand financial documents. Moreover, I have also managed to grasp the meaning of technical financial terms, which have provided me with the ability to understand and answer questions put to me in situations, for example, the Bright Ideas and Dragon’s Dens interviews. I will go on to utilize this knowledge in my future career as a Director of Bee Sportswear, for example, when competition in the forthcoming Young Enterprise UK final competition.
We have had numerous opportunities in the past six months that has allowed us to pitch our business and compete with our product. This has often resulted in being in environments where our business is being constructively criticised or, where we were being questions about the viability of the Bee Bra. This encouraged us to cover all bases and try to think about all eventualities with regard to Bee Sportswear and the Bee Bra. I often stressed myself out trying to learn by heart what our predicted gross and net profit would be, what our fixed and variable costs totalled and what profit margin each distribution channel offered. This is because I like to be prepared and I did not want to let me colleagues down. However, I have recognised that in reality these things are just small factors that did not make a difference, as it was often our product and ambition that were being judged. On reflection, I realise that all of the stress was not necessary.
It was in this environment that I noticed a weakness in myself. It was my instant reaction to answer any questions that was thrown to us by the judging panels that we stood before. This was a disadvantage as we wanted to show how well we work as team. It wasn’t that I did not think that my colleagues were capable of answering the question, but that it was a natural reaction of mine to just blurt out an answer. Since I have now had lots of opportunities to practice this I think I am improving.
Due to previous experiences I am aware that hard work pays off, but the achievements attained throughout the module have reaffirmed this belief. As a team we worked hard all year round, meeting a minimum of 6 hours a week, as well as, additional hours spent working on task separately, to ensure that the development of our business continued to move forward. This strong commitment has meant that we can now label our business as multi-award winning. This is evidence that our hard work really has paid off and that I have learnt a lot and gained many new skills.
Erfle, S., Keat, P. and Young, P. (2014) Managerial Economics: Economic tools for today’s decision makers. 7th edn. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Lofving,M., Safsten,K. and Winroth. (2014) Manufacturing Strategy Frameworks suitable for SME. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25(1), pp. 7-26.
Mind Tools (2015) Golden Rules For Goal Setting. Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm (Accessed: 17 April 2015).
Priya. (2009) Business Communication. New Delhi: New Age International Pvt. Ltd.