India’s Reflective Essay

Reflecting on the learning process


Aim High

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.

Lessons Learnt

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: (Accessed: 17 April 2015).

Priya. (2009) Business Communication. New Delhi: New Age International Pvt. Ltd.



‘Forthcoming’ – Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as, about to happen or appear.

Forthcoming Is a word that I associate with the BeeBra. Although we have developed the bra and it has already done so well, I know that there is so much more to come from Bee Sportswear and the BeeBra.It really is about to happen!

Once again we pushed ourselves to the max and became finalists at the end of term dragons den competition. Just proving to ourselves yet again that hard work really does paid off. As a result of this we are now preparing ourselves for the looming Young Enterprise, UK final competition, taking place in Manchester. Being provided with another opportunity has again provided a source of encouragement for us to develop our business even further. Its another great push in the right direction.

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Without the environment provided by the Start-up a business module there is no way that our business would have achieved so much, or maybe even exist.

Reflecting on the entire module I would say the most fulfilling lessons that I have learnt are:

  • Two heads are better than one.

Working as a team has many benefits and an assortment of opinions and knowledge can really make the difference when trying to solve a problem.

  • Many hands make light work.

Its widely know that starting a business is hard work. I found this to be completely true, however sharing the workload with my team mates transformed the work from chores to enjoyable tasks.

  • If at first you don’t succeed try again.

We found that we had many set backs, starting from the very first week and still continuing, but I have learnt that anything can be overcome if I just keep trying.

Learning Valuable Skills

The Finance Director was by far the least desired job role within our business and I’m not surprise. If like me, you are not completely familiar with financial documents, it can be extremely daunting.

As I hold the position of the Finance Director in our business I attended the Finance Workshop held by Fizal, one of the Young Enterprise associates. The purpose of the workshop was for the details of the financial documents to be explained to anyone who was unexperienced in finance.

As a result of attending the workshop I managed to get to grips with some of the responsibilities that I hold as the Finance Director, this included how to calculate the Young Enterprise Tax that we are obliged to pay. I also got the opportunity to ask questions and clear up any queries I had regarding my role.

During the Finance Workshop there were two things that Fizal mentioned that stuck out to me, first  the golden rule according to Fizal was, ‘The health of Cash flow is vital. Even if your business is profitable you can still fail if you have no available cash in your business’. I had not thought about this before, so it made me think more about the importance of my role. The second point that I took away from the workshop, was that it is beneficial, no matter what role you hold within a business to actually have a basic understand of finance, especially if you have your own business.

As a result of my role as the Finance Director, I feel I have learnt a lot of valuable skills that I will utilize in my future career. I have gathered the skills to create a basic cash flow forecast, learnt how to record company expenses, created sales forecasts based on research and controled a budget.

I did a lot of research in order to fulfil my role to the best of my ability. I stumbled upon a blog that helped to create a cash flow forecast –

Alternative sources help me to calculate a breakeven point –

I also read some articles prior to interoperating the research that we have based our sales forecast on. The information assisted in the validity of our predicted sales –

Motivation and Influence

After all of the set backs and hiccups we have experienced that caused us to be lacking in stock it was easy to feel a bit down about our situation.

However, over that last eight months we have achieved so much! The range of competitions that we have been successful in has provided myself with a source of major motivation, which has definitely been needed.

Talking to the judges at the Penryn Road Trade Fair, where we won best product!


Most Innovative Product award, won at the Spitalfields market Trade Fair.

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 We won £1,000 in the Bright Ideas competition, which we invested back into our business.


The confirmation that the BeeBra has potential has been gained from its success in the environments we have exposed it to so far. This has not only motivated me, but influenced my personal decision to stick with the business, past university to really further our product.

Good Data, Bad Data

During a lecture we were directed to watch a Youtube video, How to talk to customers when everyone is lying to you, by Rob Fitzpatrick.

The video discussed the issue of finding the value in feedback from potential customers. Rob highlighted the point that a business needs to learn, if what they are creating is going to work and that this can be done by learning what your customers care about. Therefore, the content of Rob’s video taught me the importance of customer or potential customer feedback.

Rob explains that all you are really doing when you tell people about your product, is fishing for compliments, people will dish out compliments even if they don’t really mean what they say, because it costs them nothing to simply say, great product. So, from this point I learnt that we need to beware of compliments, as compliments can provide ‘bad data’.

Rob believes that to understand your customers you don’t need to mention your idea. Instead, you should ask about their life and how they are already solving their problems. This method would give you an honest indication of whether your product is actually needed.

Rob calls this method learn and confirm and believes it is the best way to get ‘good data’. First, you learn about your customers, you then go away create what you think fits with the customer’s needs and then show them the product to confirm you’re on the right path.

Commitments that follow compliments are real indication of whether the feedback gain from someone should be valued. A perfect example of this is, if somebody is willing to give you money for your product, then this is a great sign that you are on the right track, E.g. Kickstarter.

Rob ends by highlighting that we should end meetings with commitments, which could be time, reputation or money.

I found the information that Rob Fitzpatrick shared in his video invaluable, especially as we were at the critical stage of receiving an abundance of feedback on our prototype, from friends and family members, peers and the general public. The video helped me to reflect on the comments that had been made about the BeeBra, which had all been positive. However, thanks to Rob I am now able to find the ‘real data’ in the feedback and without a doubt I will use his ethos in all elements of life, whether that be with Bee Sportswear or my personal life.

Again on reflection, I have learnt that there is so much information available through sources such as Youtube, which I must utilized.

Other video that I have viewed via Youtube, which have provided food for thought:



Trade Fair Turnaround


During the second week of semester two we were provided with a fantastic opportunity, to take part in a trade fair, held in the university’s business school. Overall I would describe the experience as ‘learning on the job’.

I have formerly worked in sales, due to previous jobs as a sales assistant, however, taking part in the trade fair as Bee Sportswear was an entirely different experience, as we had no stock to sell. This was very disappointing and disheartening! We were in a terrible position. We had been given a great opportunity to sell our product, but we had no products to sell, as a result of many dead-end leads with regard to manufacturers.

The way I felt at that moment, if I could of rewound time and gone back to the initial brain storming sessions, when the sports bras idea first popped up I would say NOOOOO don’t do it, it’s too ambitious when you take into consideration the money and time constraints we have. However, I’m so glad I do not have a time machine, because I really do LOVE the BeeBra and I am proud of the product we have created!

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I think we made the best of the situation and instead we used the chance to promote the product and gain information, to create potential customer profiles, like email addresses from our target market. Luckily, our mentor got to the trade fair just before it began and gave us a pep talk. He suggested we ran a competition to win a free BeeBra, this was a great idea because it meant that we could not only generate initial interest in the product, but was also an attractive way to source the information we required to create a potential customer data base.

We did not want to waste the opportunity to further promote our product, so we have sent out the following email to the people that entered the competition. I think it is totally in keeping with our brand.

bee email cropOverall we had great feedback from many people at the trade fair and that has given us the confidence and motivation to push past the tough times. We also gained more feedback about styling our brand, which I think is great advice. We should dress in sportswear so that the customers know straight away what we are offering. We plan to do this at all future events.

Reflecting on the day, I don’t feel completely negative about it, as it reaffirmed the point of the module, which is to offer us help and guidance in a controlled environment. That is exactly what the outcome of participating in the trade fair was. From this I have learnt how to turn a negative situation into a positive one!


It official! Here is the Bee Bra…

We have a product and a name!! We have created the Bee Bra!

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As a team we have managed to meet two of the milestones that were set! The most exciting of the two is definitely our prototype…

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We are really happy with the way to looks and also very proud of ourselves for creating something from nothing in such a short space of time. We have also managed to source part of our packaging and create part of it ourselves, the result it great, I think it looks very professional.

We had to have our prototype ready for our first dragons den presentation, it was close, but we managed to get it just in time! In hindsight it would have been better to have the product a few days early to we could create an advert but we just could not manage this with the time constraints we had.

The second milestone was the looming Dragons Den presentation. We practiced and practiced and practiced until we were all confident to present our business to the dragons, The presentation went as planned and we received fantastic feedback. One of the criticisms was that they did not think we were aiming to produce enough bras. I don’t think the Dragons had in mind our £1000 budget when they said we should place a order of a few hundred! The exercise was useful as they directed us to look into our distribution channels more, and this was something we had previously identified as challenging and we required a bit of advise with. They advised us to concentrate on word of mouth promotion as this goes hand in hand with our target market, women. Overall we have taken the Dragons constructive criticism on board and will review it as a team to see where we can improve.