Writing Your Business Report – Don’t Panic!

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2017 national finals

Keep Calm, It’s Business Report time!!

Around about now, if you listen very carefully, you might actually hear the combined groans of students like you from all over Ireland who are facing into writing the dreaded Business Report!  But actually, this, seemingly daunting, but essential, part of the Student Enterprise Programme doesn’t need to be dreaded at all.

The basics:

The Report cannot be any more than twenty pages long.  This may seem like a lot of paper to fill, but when you include photos, graphs, market research results, a SWOT Analysis and your accounts, you’ll have the pages filled in no time. You want the judges to find reading your Report an interesting and pleasurable experience.  They will be reviewing up to forty reports in advance of the County/National Final and there are a full thirty marks available for it.  This is your chance to make a BIG first impression and do yourselves and your business justice! A well structured Business Report is a joy to read.

Resources:

The first thing to do is to go to the “Student Resources” link on www.studententerprise.ie  Under “Student Resources” – “Useful Templates/Forms” you will find documents which you can download including “Business Report Template” and “Business Report Cover Sheet”.  Under the “Report Template”, you will find eight different section headings from “Introduction” to “Review and Conclusion”.  Each heading features various really useful prompt questions to help you tell your own unique SEP story.  If you literally answer all of these prompt questions in your own words, expanding on each one, then Hey Presto – you’ll have your Report done and dusted!

Step by step:

It’s likely that different team members were responsible for different aspects of the business (e.g. Sales and Marketing, Finance), so one option is to have everyone write their own relevant section.  If you decide to take this approach, it’s advisable to have an editor ensure that the Report reads well and the various writing styles match.

So,

  • Start with the prompt questions from the Business Report Template.
  • Write bullet points under each question heading.
  • Expand on these bullet points, to complete full sentences.
  • Use clear, concise English and make your sentences as snappy as
  • possible.
  • Keep to the point!
  • Try to vary your language. Avoid using the same words or phrases repeatedly. Your thesaurus can help you with this!
  • Ensure proper use of grammar. (e.g. know the difference between “they’re”, “there” and “their”!)
  • If you are unsure how to spell a word, look it up!
  • Ensure the correct use of commas and apostrophes.
  • Make sure all sections are in the same tense.
  • Use a font that is easy to read.
  • Ensure photos you use print out clearly.
  • A bit of humour can make all the difference to the reader!
  • Tell your story in your own way.
  • Be professional.
  • Avoid the temptation of getting someone else to write the report for you!  The judges will always know!

 

Some words of wisdom:

The power of the mind is amazing.  Visualisation can really help you to achieve your goals.  An excellent tip for approaching any dreaded task is to simply relax, close your eyes and conjure up the satisfied feeling you will get when you have the task completed.  So, imagine putting in the very last full stop on your Business Report.  See the Report in your hand, perfectly neat and tidy, with flowing, concise language. It is the best representation of you and your business that it can be and you are super proud of it.

Now, take a deep breath and start writing!

Student Enterprise Programme Launch

By Blog, Media

Student Enterprise Programme Launch

Media Release 19th December 2018

MINISTER PAT BREEN T.D. LAUNCHES IRELAND’S LARGEST SECOND LEVEL BUSINESS PROGRAMME

Ireland’s largest second level business programme for students, the Student Enterprise Programme, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, was launched today by Pat Breen, T.D., Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection.

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 26,000 students from 512 secondary schools across the country take part in 2018.  The programme supports students to create, design and market their own business, all with the hope of reaching the National Finals in Croke Park on May 3rd.

Minister Breen was joined at the launch by professional rugby star, Josh Van Der Flier, the 2018/2019 ambassador for the Student Enterprise Programme. Today’s launch took place in Van Der Flier’s former school, Wesley College in Dundrum, where the flanker took part in the Local Enterprise Office’s student enterprise programme when he was a student.

Speaking to some of the students involved in this year’s programme at the event, Minister Breen emphasised the importance of instilling entrepreneurship in future business leaders.  “It is imperative that we try to give the next generation of entrepreneurs a real understanding and passion for how businesses work.  We need creative young minds coming through who want to create their own businesses in the future and create jobs in Ireland. 

 “The Local Enterprise Offices do a fantastic job in fostering this entrepreneurial spirit in secondary level schools with the Student Enterprise Programme.  Year on year the ideas and businesses are remarkable and belie the ages of many of the participants.  The best of luck to every student taking part this year and while they will all want to win, the knowledge and experience they will gain on the journey will be invaluable to them in years ahead,” Minister Breen said.

Student Enterprise Programme Ambassador, Josh Van Der Flier, said; “The Student Enterprise Programme is a fantastic initiative from the Local Enterprise Offices.  Having been involved myself when I was in secondary school, it gives you a real business understanding of how to bring a good idea from concept to creating something that is fully ready to go to market.  Many of the traits in sport and in business are similar and for students to be getting this grounding in business at such a formative time in their lives will stand by them in whatever profession they pursue.”    

Michael Nevin, Chair of the Student Enterprise Programme Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices said; “The Student Enterprise Programme is designed to engage and develop students’ entrepreneurial drive.  It gives them a flavour of business and the opportunity to bring some of their fantastic ideas to life.  The 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities across the country work closely with the schools but it’s the enthusiasm of the students that shines though along with some amazing ideas.  We have seen so many students through the programme that continue their business in the years after the programme and that’s a testament to the work of the teachers involved and the programme itself.”     

The three winning businesses from 2018 had their products at the launch in Wesley College; Complete Caman from Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland, Kerry who won the Junior Award, Lift Arm Assist from CBS Kilkenny who won the Intermediate category and Abbey Bread from Cistercian College Roscrea, who won the Senior category.

Abbey Bread, the Senior winner, was a simple bread mix created by Cistercian College Roscrea student Manus Heenan from a 100-year-old Cistercian monks recipe.  Lift Arm Assist, winners of the Intermediate category in 2018, was developed by three students from Kilkenny and is a hydraulic arm that replaces the lift arm stabiliser on the back of a tractor.  The Complete Caman, developed by five teenage girls from Kerry is a specialised designed hurl that allows people of all ages or abilities to train themselves in hurling.

Since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003 over 175,000 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 a new website for 2018 / 2019 at www.StudentEnterprise.ie, which will feature regular blogs and houses a full range of Student Enterprise resources for students and teachers.

Others who attended today’s launch were Chris Woods, Principal of Wesley College, Brian Delany, Business Studies teacher at Wesley College, Mariea Mulally of Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Carl Cullen of ROC Protection who won the Student Enterprise Programme in 2017.

ENDS

For further information:

Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 / Declan.Lee@enterprise-ireland.com

Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 / Sarah.Bohan@Enterprise-Ireland.com

PREVIOUS STUDENT ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME WINNERS

2018

Junior – Complete Caman – Presentation Secondary School, CastleIsland, Kerry

Intermediate – Lift Arm Assist – CBS Kilkenny

Senior – Abbey Bread – Cistercian College, Roscrea, Offaly

 

2017

Junior – Daisy’s Pawesome Bowties – Our Lady’s Secondary School, Drogheda

Intermediate – Scott Engine Tables – Colaiste Chill Mhantain, Rathnew, Wicklow

Senior – ROC Protection – Clonkeen College, Blackrock, Dublin

 

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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!