What makes a young person enterprising?

We hear lots of stories about young people, mostly focussing on the troubled teens, single mums, (more of which elsewhere in this issue, and antisocial behaviour. Personally I think this must be an extraordinarily difficult time to grow and mature. When I left university everyone got a job. Not necessarily the first choice job but all my friends and colleagues went straight into work. 30 years later life has changed. I have a teenaged son and I know that he is concerned about what lies ahead.

Jackie Cameron is a passionate supporter of youth enterprise and coaches schoolchildren, students and young people, giving them the confidence to make public presentations and to handle themselves well at interview. Jackie works with young people who are starting their own business with the support of PSYBT-The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust which leads in the promotion and support of self-employment and business creation amongst young people. The question that Jackie and I had been asking ourselves was “What makes a young person enterprising?”. Rather than ponder between ourselves Jackie tackled the question in the best possible way by asking three young entrepreneurs for their views. Here is what they said. Firstly we hear from Jodie.

1. What inspired you to do what you are doing now?
Rather than work for someone else I wanted to build something. I wanted to take an idea, put all my efforts in, and then see the end result and say I did that. I have seen many entrepreneurs speak and most of them I have found very inspiring. They told the truth about it taking longer then you think, that you will need more money then you budget, and also that it is a roller coaster.

2. How do you get through the tough times?
When you decide to take that leap and start a business you don’t expect the turbulant ride that you will experience – entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride and once you accept that it will be easier. Don’t get me wrong, running a business is fantastic, but when you get your first ‘low’ point it isn’t great. Then you are on a ‘high’ when something great happens. The way I cope is to rationalise the lows and highs when they happen. Remember when a low point happens think of why it happens and try put a practice in place for it not to happen again. When a high point happens celebrate it, evaluate it and try and make it happen again. My motto in life has always been ‘what is done is done and can’t be undone’ – so when something rubbish happens make sure it doesn’t happen again and move on. Also, remember that if you were working for someone else ‘tough’ times would also occur…why not start a business and control your life rather than someone else doing it for you?

3. How has your business gone in relation to your expectations?
It has been tougher than I imagined and things always take longer than you imagine. Once I accepted that things became easier. I wanted to grow quicker than was feasible and I always thought that running the business on little finance would work. Unfortunately, clients don’t always pay on time or keep their promises – I just didn’t think this would happen. Cashflow is key – without it a business will find it hard to survive. If starting a business is your dream then you will be able to rationalise all the lost expectations by remembering that you will be making your dreams come true. Just remember to double the time you expect something to be done and add a little more, access more finance and enjoy the ride.

4. What are your plans for the future?
– Take Adspad products to as many universities and colleges as possible in the UK.
– Become the leading student advertising firm whilst promoting positive messages to students.
– I have a 5-year exit strategy is to sell and then look into the allergy/intolerance market.

5. What advice would you give to another person thinking about going into business?
Go for it – just remember it will take longer then you think, you need to work super hard, don’t take things personally and people don’t pay. Enjoy the ride!

Jennifer and Rachel had a different take on their situation

1. What inspired you to do what you are doing now?
When we studied to be physiotherapists, we always imagined we would work for the NHS, but following our graduation last summer, and after completing multiple applications for jobs in England/bank work/temporary contracts that didn’t exactly appeal, it occurred to us that we might have to look at other options.

Other health professionals such as podiatrists or chiropracters receive business tuition as part of their training, and many go on to have their own businesses. However, it was something that we hadn’t considered, although we were always assured by lecturers that we would have all the necessary skills (just maybe not the courage!)

We both had kept up our skills doing loads of voluntary work with sports teams, treating friends and family and covering events such as rugby camps etc, however we were no further forward with full time paid work.

After the numerous ignored applications, or being pipped for a job by someone who was more experienced (there’s that vicious circle of how-can-you-gain-experience-if-no-one-will-give-you-a-job-in-the-first-place), we decided that if we wanted to work as physiotherapists, we were going to have to create our own jobs.

2. How do you get through the tough times?
Luckily we both have a good sense of humour and a drive to be great at what we do. So whenever we feel exhausted or something isn’t working out the way we planned, we just think: the alternative is sitting at home completing endless applications, or having to move away to work (which neither of us want to do at this point) or just working voluntarily and getting further into debt. At least this way, we’re contributing to the greater good (well, the tax man) and doing something we really enjoy and that is so worthwhile.

3. How has your business gone in relation to your expectations?
We were pretty optimistic at the very beginning when drafting our business plan but as we had no business experience or template to go by, I think we both can safely say it’s not gone quite to plan! However, we are still optimistic that, in a few months’ time we WILL be hitting targets. We’re only 4 months down the line, and we’re enjoying it more than we expected, and we’re learning much more than we even thought we would – about running a business, networking, doing the books, promoting ourselves, web design and social media amongst other things.

4. What are your plans for the future?
We have lots of plans, big and small. We’d ultimately like to expand and grow our business to cater for the businessmen and -women of Glasgow along with atheletes, sports teams, maybe other cities one day (pipe dream!) We’d also like to help other graduating physios into a job, as it would be great to provide that opportunity for someone.

In terms of personal plans, we’d like to expand our knowledge through gaining experience and attending courses and teaching one another, along with coordinating with other health professionals who we can learn from. Plus we’d like some time off haha! But that will come.

5. What advice would you give to another young person thinking about going into business?
Before you pay for anything, think twice. And then think again. There are a lot of people who would quite happily take your money and there’s a good chance you either could get it for free or find it cheaper elsewhere.

Take advice from as many people as you trust and respect as possible. Get involved in networking, as the business environment in Glasgow (particularly) is really supportive and people have been more than happy to help us.

Talk to the PSYBT, and if they can’t help you they’ll certainly point you in the right direction.

And most importantly, just go for it and enjoy the ride! At the end of the day consider the alternatives – not working or in a job you don’t enjoy. Having your own business might be the toughest thing you’ll do but it’ll be so rewarding to achieve what you set out to do.

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