Why it’s important to do a risk assessment for your business

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Why it’s important to do a risk assessment for your business

It’s essential that once you have decided on a business idea for your student enterprise that you carry out what’s called a Risk Assessment.

A Risk Assessment will ensure that you do not put yourselves or anyone else at risk as a result of your business activities.

When doing your ‘Risk Assessment’ you must look at the following four areas:

  1. How your product/service is produced
  2. How your product/service is assembled
  3. How your product/service is sold
  4. How your product/service is used

With regard to these four areas above, ask yourselves these three key questions:

  1. What hazards or dangers could arise from your design?
  2. How serious is this risk?
  3. What do you need to do to eliminate or reduce these risks?

It’s important to spend time assessing all the potential risks and discussing how you can eliminate them with your fellow team mates and enterprise teacher. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for opinions of others such as parents, siblings, aunts, uncles etc…. as sometimes someone not so close to the idea can spot things you may not.

A word on manufacturing

If your team is involved in manufacturing, the possibility for damage is greater and even seemingly harmless products can sometimes pose a danger. If your team is involved in manufacturing, you must be particularly diligent with your Risk Assessment.

For example, take natural handmade soap. This seems perfectly straightforward. One of the ingredients is lye, which is tremendously corrosive to skin. So there is a risk both to the students making the product and the users.

Be particularly cautious of products that are ingested or applied to the skin, as quality control is critical here. There are many rules, regulations and laws regarding personal products, so research is key in this area of business production.

Rule of thumb for safety: “When in doubt, Don’t!”

Safe System of Work Plan (SSWP)

Students are encouraged to implement a ‘Safe System of Work Plan (SSWP)’.

Essentially this means:

  • Planning the activity
  • Identifying the hazard
  • Identifying the control
  • Signing-off

Put in place a written system for how risk has been eliminated or reduced during the design process and how you have communicated information on any remaining risks.

If you are designing a product, you must ensure that the product is safe, can be maintained safely and complies with all relevant safety and health legislation.

The following are some examples of safety considerations in common products:

Rain Harvesting and Storage Container:       

Ensure product has secure lock on cover to ensure it cannot be opened by young children.

Food Products:

Ask the Home Economics teacher for oversight on preparation, health and safety and adherence to HSE guidelines

Children’s Toys:

If the item has small Parts mean it must be labelled as unsuitable for children under 3 years old as it could pose a choking hazard. Check out Irish and European standards and regulations on children’s products and safety.

Chargers and Associated Electronic Gadgets:

Ensure any items that are designed by you or bought in Ireland or from abroad with a view to selling on to customers have CE marking and are in line with all safety regulations.

Useful Links

www.hsa.ie

www.hse.ie

www.fsai.ie

www.citizensinformation.ie

www.ccpc.ie

The above information has been adapted from the ‘Production’ chapter in the Student Enterprise Programme Teachers’ Handbook, which was compiled and written by Brian Dolan. The Teachers’ Handbook is available to download here.

Tips for the Christmas Trade Fairs/Markets

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Tips for the Christmas Trade Fairs/Markets

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Now that the Halloween decorations have been put back in the attic, it’s acceptable to dust down the tinsel and baubles in preparation for the festive season! So, whether you embrace Christmas with both woolly mitten-clad hands, or there is a tinge of “Grinch” green about you, there’s no doubt about it, Christmas and the run-up to it represent a real chance for you to boost your Student Enterprise and make sales of your product or service. If you’re lucky, your school will have a Christmas Trade Fair, or there may be a market in your locality at which you could take a stall. Don’t miss out on superb selling opportunities like these!

Even if you won’t have a product or service ready to sell in time, or feel that yours is not really suitable for a Christmas Trade Fair/Market, you should still take a stall. There is huge advantage to be gained in raising awareness of your business and your brand. Be like all the Local Enterprise Office client businesses which exhibit every year at the Ploughing Championships and at Showcase in the RDS. These businesses might not necessarily make many sales at these events, but they know that they are getting invaluable exposure just by being there. You could display a sample of your product or details of your service and take orders, along with deposits. This will help greatly with cash-flow. Cash is King after all!

On the day of the Trade Fair/Market, you are bound to be vying for attention with many other stalls. So, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Well, this is where your imagination and organisational skills come to the rescue! Be as colourful and memorable as possible.

Here are some handy tips to get you started:
➢ Have consistent branding on both your stand and your marketing material.
➢ Consider wearing t-shirts featuring your business logo. It’s well worth investing in your image.
➢ One of the team (or someone you employ) could dress up as an elf and hand out your business flyers, directing potential customers to your stall.
➢ You could have a free raffle, or perhaps offer free treats.
➢ Maybe organise a (small!) flash mob for right in front of your stall? Use your ingenuity to attract the crowd!

Now that you have a crowd at your stall, how do you make sales? Remember that when it comes to products and services, people buy “Benefits” rather than features. So, it’s vital that you get across the benefits of your fantastic product or service to your captive audience. For example, a lavender bath bomb features a gorgeous smell, but it has the benefit of making you feel ultra-relaxed and pampered. You get the idea! Figure out what your product “Benefits” are and make your customers feel like they can’t do without them!

Trade Fairs and markets are hard work and can be tiring. Make sure you get a good sleep the night before. Be prepared for all eventualities and have enough stock, or at least a way of taking orders and deposits. Don’t forget a cash float. Make sure that each member of the team pulls their weight and behave in a professional and courteous manner at all times, projecting the right image for your business.

And remember, a big friendly, welcoming smile is the best decoration of all!

Good luck!