How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

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How I took the reins and grew a successful business at just 15 years old!

My name is Anthony O’Gorman and I am a proud Student Enterprise Programme alumni!

I’d like to share with you my own business journey and what I’ve learned on my journey to being a teen entrepreneur.

My enterprise journey started in 2019 when I had a unique Christmas business idea – to hand-craft wooden reindeers.

I started by selling to my family and friends initially. Then I brought a sample into my school (Tullamore College) and I guess it just took off from there! I worked on the reindeers in my father’s workshop using his tools. Every evening I came home with 10 or 12 orders and ended up selling over 200 reindeers that first Christmas!.

My business teacher Ms. Griffin suggested that I enter the Student Enterprise Awards. I was delighted that I took her advice and I won the Offaly intermediate title and then went on to represent my county at the national final.

The competition was very strong at the National Final and even though I did not win, getting there was the greatest achievement of my life so far. I received a trophy and €350 which I reinvested into expanding my business.

Top 3 Lessons I Learned:

From taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, I learned a lot about business and about how I could improve my business model. I was able to identify the key changes I needed to make going forward such as:

  • I was charging too little per product
  • I needed to hire people to help me, as I had too many orders to manage in a short space of time
  • I needed to start planning earlier

These three lessons would prove to be invaluable to me in 2020.

 

2020: Turning Covid-19 into an opportunity

Covid 19 took hold in March 2020 and I ended up with a lot of spare time, as the Junior Certificate was now cancelled. It was the perfect opportunity to grow my business. I realised that families were at home spending more time in their gardens and I decided to tap into this a bit more by creating handmade wooden garden accessories such as trains, wheelbarrows and planters.

2020 was a game changer for my business in so many ways:

-I developed a sales platform from my Facebook page Anthony’s Wooden Crafts

-I identified easier, less labour intensive ways to work . I invested in new tools and equipment – (no more hand sawing)

-I started planning much earlier in the year (September, as opposed to November the previous year)

I set myself a target of 1,000 reindeers and I began producing in October. When I went back to school after the Summer I worked in the evenings and weekends to build up stock. A local photographer took some photos for my Facebook page. My mother had come across the Shop in Ireland Facebook page and uploaded the famous picture. Little did I know where this would lead.

From there, RTE’s Philip Bromwell contacted me. My business was featured on the Six O’Clock News and the Late Late Toy Show – this is what dreams are made of! It was a crazy few weeks between radio interviews and my photo being across all social media sites and local newspapers.

 

It’s All About Your Support Network

My family was so supportive. Without their encouragement, it probably would never have grown. My dad was always there to pick up my materials, do deliveries and give advice. My mam is very handy with a paint brush and sowing flowers!

As I became overwhelmed with orders, family members came to help; as well as the mammies of my hurling team. My school teachers and school tutor were there at all times for support too. For that I am so grateful.

I ended up producing double my target. It was hard work and very challenging at times, but the positives far outweigh that.  One final special moment in this journey was donating 100 teddies to Temple Street Hospital; one for every child in hospital at Christmas. I wanted to give a little back and it made me realise how lucky I was to get this opportunity.

 

What’s next for Anthony’s Wooden Crafts?

I have my website almost completed now. So it will be more professional and easier for people to order my wooden crafts.  School is also important and although right now I am doing my best with home schooling, I would prefer to be in the classroom.

The experience of being an entrepreneur at such as young age has really improved my financial and communication skills. The biggest lesson I learned overall though is that if you really put your mind to it  anything is possible, and you will succeed and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How to make your student enterprise dazzle!

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Hi everyone! We are a group of students currently taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme this year. Our student enterprise is called Dalia Jewels. We make handmade, affordable, quality and fashionable jewellery for young people.

We sell a range of different products including earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces and keyrings.

We sell mainly to other students and also online across Ireland and even abroad!

We have been so lucky to be able to take part in the Student Enterprise Programme this year. During our journey, we have learned so much about entrepreneurship and we would love to share some of our tips on running a successful business with you.

Tip # 1: Do something you are passionate about

Before starting up your business you need to make sure that what you plan on doing is something that you really enjoy and something that you are really passionate about. For us personally, we were going to make something completely different for our mini company but we soon realised that we are just not passionate about it so, we changed our idea and started Dalia Jewels as we all love wearing and making jewellery.

Tip # 2: Get yourself out there

Try and market your business and products as much as you can. There are so many different ways to market your product such as social media, word of mouth, posters and much more. If you don’t get yourself out there you won’t build up the customer base that you would like.

Tip #3: Research, research, research

We can’t stress enough how important market research is and how important it is to do as much as you can. Know your competitors, your target market and know why there is a need for your product/service in your chosen industry.

Tip # 4: Know your finances

Get to know your finances and start working on them from the very start. It’s really important that you truly understand your finances and also track every single transaction made into or out of your business. This may seem confusing at times but the Student Enterprise website has so many useful resources to help you with tackling your finances.

Tip # 5: Customer Feedback

From the start of our business, we have been very customer centric as we know that the customer is always right! We have done many customer surveys and polls from the start of running our business to make sure that our customers are happy. Remember, if your customers are not happy, they won’t buy from you!!!  They may have a different opinion to you but try and compromise as customers are the most important part of your business.

Finally, don’t give up! It may be very disheartening to not succeed as you had hoped in your business but please do not give up. Many of the world’s most famous and successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have had some failures too. But, when they tried and tried again they finally succeeded and you can too!

Best of luck to everyone!

Dalia Jewels Team

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How I’m Keeping My Students Motivated & On Track For County Finals

-by Pierce Dargan, Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Co. Kerry

My name is Pierce Dargan. I am the Student Enterprise Co-ordinator in Presentation Secondary School in Castleisland, Co. Kerry. This is my sixth year in Presentation and my sixth year involved in the Student Enterprise Programme.

Every year we run the Student Enterprise Programme with all First Year’s, and I can proudly say that every student in our school now, has engaged in the Student Enterprise Programme for at least 4 months, when they were in First Year. Five out of the last six years we have entered the Kerry County Final in both the Junior and Intermediate Categories.

Over the six years our school has claimed 21 County and 6 National Titles.

These 6 National Titles have come in the past three years, with two titles in each year:

  • 1st Place – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2018 – Complete Cáman
  • 1st Place – Intermediate Category 2019 – Críos Mhadra
  • IP Award – Junior Category 2019 – Eary Fix
  • 2nd Place – Intermediate Category 2020 – Sála Síos
  • 3rd Place – Junior Category 2020 – Cast Aways

This huge success at County and National levels is down to the dedication and enthusiasm of our students and the support from our school, our students’ families, and the Kerry Local Enterprise Office. The key to our success is making the programme as enjoyable and as fun as possible and the rest looks after itself. I always ensure our students pick ideas they are passionate about, because as I always tell our girls, “If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work”.

Remote teaching and learning is a challenge for all students, especially those students working as part of teams and projects. The Student Enterprise Programme is like no other this year – with all aspects going virtual.

The following are my thoughts, approaches and tips for teachers to help their students to stay motivated and to aim for success at upcoming County Finals. Despite the restrictions, success can still be achieved from their homes over the coming weeks.

Ways to Keep Students Motivated:

The key to keeping my student enterprise students motivated is to keep in daily contact or at least every second day. I know this might seem like a lot, but I see most of my enterprise students in class and I just ask them to stay online for a few minutes at the end of a live class or if not, I just drop them a quick message on the ‘Enterprise Teams’ I have setup on our online school platform, Microsoft Teams.

Best Approaches:

Setting weekly goals for each group is essential, whether it is to post on social media, carry out a survey on Microsoft Forms or to get as many photos of their product/service as they can, within a 5km radius of course.

Top 3 Useful Tools & Tips:

With no face-to-face contact and with County Finals looming, we must get our students prepped as best we can. I think now more than ever we have the digital tools to keep our students engaged and moving forward.

  1. Firstly, use your online school platform to stay connected with your students. Set up a dedicated enterprise team with each group for regular contact and updates.
  2. Secondly, social media platforms are the key to getting their ideas out there. Set your enterprise teams targets to send out posts regularly. If they have no new information, get them to tell the world about their team, about their story and where their idea came from.
  3. Thirdly, encourage students to use tools like Microsoft Forms or Survey Monkey to get their field research done. Field and desk research are essential for validating students’ product choice or service and is key to impressing the judges at County and National Finals. This can easily be completed from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Take Away Message:

With an extension to the level 5 lockdown for another few weeks, County Finals will approach before we head back to school, but remember all schools and all enterprise students are in the same boat. Each year approximately 29,000 students take part in the Student Enterprise Programme and like the lotto, someone must win and why can’t it be your students???

Remind your students constantly to be positive, be prepared and remember no one knows their product or service better than them, so they should be confident and competent in their ability to wow the judges.

Best of luck to all in the upcoming County Finals!!!

 

What SEP has taught us

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Our Experience of Taking Part in The Student Enterprise Programme

– by 2 Peas In A Pod

 

2020 is a year that many want to forget!!!

For some, it brought lonliness and boredom, but for us, thanks to taking part in the Student Enterprise Programme, it brought to life our business 2 Peas in a Pod.

Where our business idea came from?

We became inspired with our business idea just a few weeks into lock down. We were playing a game with our family, sent to us from German friends, where we had to match images from Cologne. It was then that the idea came to us to create our own fun-filled family memory game based on Wexford images. We did some research online and we didn’t see any similar games.

In September, as 1st year students in St Mary’s, New Ross, we learned about the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP). So we decided to turn our idea from lockdown into a product.

Our business teacher and lots of our friends and family thought it would be a great idea. So we decided to go for it. We set up the business and named it 2 Peas in a Pod because we are twins and because the aim of our game is to match 2 identical images of Wexford and get 2 Peas in a Pod. We decided to add a quiz to to our product, for a bit of extra excitement.

So many lessons learned along the way!

 Overall, we are thrilled we took a risk and set up our student enterprise as we got the chance to make a fantastic product. We developed loads of skills throughout the journey. We have learned so many lessons and skills in entrepreneurship since last September. Here’s some of the most important ones that we’ve learned:

 Intellectual Property (IP):

  • While on our entrepreneurial journey, we learned many great lessons and skills. Our first task was to contact photographers from Wexford to ask them to donate pictures. This was our first challenge as we did not know the photographers and they did not know us and so they really had to trust we were putting their images to good use.
  • This was when we learned about Intellectual Property as we had to name each photographer on their image as it was their work. We loved picking out the pictures as they were really good quality and showed our county in a beautiful way.

Dealing with suppliers:

  • Another challenge was getting the product printed. We researched printing prices and visited some printers but this was more difficult due to Covid. We decided to go with local printer Emco as we could walk to them after school and John was really great to give us advice.

Learning about using different forms of media:

  • We made a promotional video using iMovie which we had never used before and we did an interview with the New Ross Standard.
  • We also set up Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts for our business with our parents’ permission.
  • We learned about using Pay Pal for making payments also.

 Learning how to sell & promote:

  • Some of our sales were made in school to our friends and teachers and in our primary school too.
  • It was harder to sell our game in person due to Covid and lack of Christmas markets but with more people at home, online sales were easier, we think.
  • We got great selling tips on the SEP webinars every Monday such as the importance of  “being passionate” when making sales and also to “listen to the customer” so we really tried that.
  • We’ve now sold about 150 products by keeping it promoted. We have gotten some lovely comments from our followers and customers. We tagged well known people like Kevin Dundon, Tadgh Furlong, Eoin Murchan and Walter Walsh to endorse or ‘like’ our product too which gave us some great publicity. RTE Nationwide follows us too.
  • We have also asked some businesses to sell our product for us like Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody House Hotel.

Finding Inspiration:

  • We find Derval O’Rourke, the new Female Ambassador for the SEP very inspiring. She is an outstanding athlete and she’s our favourite coach on Ireland’s Fittest Family!!! We didn’t know that she is also a super entrepreneur in the area of health and fitness so she really has lots of good advice to give.

Managing Our Time & Money:

  • Keeping track of our costs and finances was important too so we really had to shop around for the best value packaging options.
  • We also had to manage our time well especially during November and early December when we had to meet all our orders, get them posted in time for Christmas and prepare for our school exams in first year too.
  • We are lucky that we worked well as a team that we could share our work load. We would advise others to make a list of tasks to do and divide them up between them and to have fun during the experience.

Keeping Motivated:

  • To keep motivated, we try to promote our product every few days on social media, so that people get to know about it and hopefully buy it.
  • We tell our followers about the benefits of our product, like it is fun, it is educational, it helps improve memory and it makes a great gift especially for people missing Wexford. Believing in ourselves and our product works to motivate us.

Although we are only 13, we’re getting to see what it is like to run a real life business for ourselves. We are really enjoying the experience …. and we love making money too!!!

 

Derval O’Rourke Is Our New SEP Ambassador!!!

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IRELAND’S LARGEST STUDENT ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME IS LAUNCHED

Olympian and entrepreneur Derval O’Rourke announced as ambassador

 

Ireland’s largest student business programme has been launched by Damien English T.D., Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.  The Local Enterprise Office’s Student Enterprise Programme held a virtual event to celebrate as it enters its 18th year, with over 220,000 students having taken part since it began in 2003.

 

The Final usually takes place in Croke Park, but as with the 2020 Final earlier this year, the event will take place again online on Friday 14th May 2021.  A new ambassador was also announced for the programme, Olympian and entrepreneur, Derval O’Rourke.  The world champion hurdler and three-time Olympian made the jump from the track to the world of business, setting up her own fitness, health and well-being site, Derval.ie, now with over 8,000 sign ups.

 

The enterprise education initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw over 29,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part in 2019 / 2020.

 

The students will compete across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior and judging takes place virtually via electronic submissions.  Each student enterprise is challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.

 

The programme will also include two additional categories that students can enter.  These are the “Most Creative Business Idea” video competition for the Senior category and the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” category for the Junior and Intermediate categories.

 

Damien English, T.D., Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, said; “The Student Enterprise Programme has been one of the most successful initiatives in helping students foster a passion for entrepreneurship.  Many of the students that have taken part have gone on to set up their own fully fledged businesses, some before they have even left school.  Ireland has always had a proud tradition of entrepreneurship and hopefully these students will bring that passion with them as they figure out how they want to make an impact in the world.  While not everyone can take home the top prize, what the students learn in taking part will be invaluable to them in the years to come.”   

 

Derval O’Rourke, Olympian, Entrepreneur and Ambassador for the Student Enterprise Programme, said; “I have always loved the Student Enterprise Programme and if it was around in my time I would have been first to sign up.  Starting your own business is one of the toughest things you can do, and when you try to do it with no business knowledge whatsoever, then it’s ten times harder.  For these students to be learning these skills at this age, and understanding how a business should work, how to make sales, how to market it, they have transferable skills they can bring forward in life.  Even looking back at some of the recent winners and finalists you think ‘wow, what a great idea’, so I can’t wait to see what this year’s programme will bring.

 

Michael Nevin, chair of the Education Enterprise Committee of the Local Enterprise Offices, said; These are unprecedented times for our students and this year’s competition is giving them the opportunity to create businesses that can make an impact in the current real-world scenario.  We are encouraging students to come up with business ideas that are adapted to the existing enterprise challenges and that are sustainable in today’s economic climate.  With this in mind the programme has changed and even though the way it is being delivered (which is mainly online), is different, the students will still be able to work together in their school setting to develop their businesses.  This will be our most challenging year to date in the Student Enterprise Programme’s history, but it will be exciting to see what new world businesses our students bring to the table.”

 

Earlier this year, the 2019/2020 Student Enterprise Programme National Final winners in the Senior category were Handy Hose Holders from CBS Thurles in Tipperary for their practical milking parlour hose solution that has since been picked for national listing by Glanbia.  The Intermediate category was won by Aim It Board from Loreto College in Dublin City, while Sofatop from Ballybay Community College in Monaghan took the Junior category award.

 

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, over 220,000 students have taken part, learning key skills on how to create a business idea, start a business and grow a business.  The Student Enterprise Programme also has new range of online resources for 2020 / 2021 at www.StudentEnterprise.ie, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.

 

Ends

Exploring Enterprise at Greenhills College in Dublin

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teachers senior resourcesOur school Greenhills College has had great success in The Student Enterprise Programme for many years. In the last number of years it has been run by two business teachers – Una McNamara and Maria Donoghue. The Enterprise Club has been run as an extra curricular activity during lunchtime and we also ran the club pre COVID on a Tuesday evening from 4pm to 5pm.

This enables students who have an interest in enterprise to further develop their business skills. We have had some great ideas through the years for both products and services alike. Enterprise has become an integral part of our school and we are very proud of the fact that our students have managed to get to the National Final in Croke Park on three different occasions.

We have had 1st place winners in both our Junior and Intermediate categories over the years. Our students are always very enthusiastic about their products from idea generation stage right through to product development. We encourage and nurture any ideas that our students have and this has led us to the success that we have had as a school in the Student Enterprise Programme.

As a result of taking part in the programme our students develop a self-belief and a realistic belief in their own abilities. They also develop key skills around being able to take their own initiative and in doing this being able to work on their resilience in terms of their attitude to failure. Being able to get back up and again with a new idea and further develop their entrepreneurial skills.

The Student Enterprise Programme has been instrumental in our school being able to embed enterprise as integral part of our school and has been fundamental in developing life skills for our students for their future lives.

 

by Maria Donoghue & Una McNamara, Enterprise Teachers at Greenhills College, Walkinstown, Dublin