This is the final post about Manchester Enterprise School 2012 and my business training. I have put the last two days together as they kind of flow nicely – from developing and actually working on the idea, the business plan and finances to presenting it to the Panel. In these last two days the pressure started building up and our confidence that ideas will work out was waning a bit… But let’s rewind a little and see what I can still remember…
Day 3 was all about working out the business plan and putting all the work we had already done studying the market and the local area. The day began with a lecture on Intellectual Property (IP), followed by Finance. As much as I was sympathetic to all the IP stuff and I was actually understanding it, Finance was a little nightmare. I did enjoy the lecture but I thought someone else from my group was going to work on this as it wasn’t my thing. Having said that, I found it interesting and to be honest I wanted to understand how finance works. May be it was my competitiveness and knowing that I can learn and apply new things, I don’t really know, but I wanted to get this and understand it as much as I could.
After the lectures we went back to our groups to sort out our thinking and ideas and to start filling in the gaps. Having heard about the basics of writing a business plan was a relief, at this point it seemed manageable. It was only when we started pinning it down to our idea when we found out that it wasn’t that easy. There was a lot to consider and some fine detail that we never thought of. Every time we found a solution something else was coming up so motivation in the form of sweets was needed. What worked well was the feedback of our group tutor who kept reflecting on our ideas and bringing us back to reality with questions like ‘How do you know this?’ and ‘What are you going to do about that?’. Trying to answer these questions was a breath of fresh air and enabled the idea to finally crystallise out of our individual heads into a group project.
In the afternoon we had to leave our precious business idea and move on to set up a business plan game – an interactive and engaging tool that enabled us to think one step further and answer series of questions about starting up a business.
The game was good fun and involved a decent amount of thinking so that we have a productive afternoon. Later that day the pressure started building up properly as we realised we had lots of data and too little time to put it together and work on the pitch. Our focus was also shifting at times, so we had to keep reminding ourselves what was the point of doing this and what we wanted to pitch to the panel. What made it even more challenging was the fact that we only knew each other for a couple of days so we were kind of throuwn into the unknown with what to expect from each other.
We tried to run through the presentation and work out who is doing what part and interestingly enough I ended up doing my beloved finance… that was the one thing I was categorical I would not do as it was way out of my comfort zone and beyond my confidence. Well, it worked well, my team members ensured me I knew what I was talking about putting the numbers together so I went with it. I think the trust they gave me was a major part of my decision and motivation to do my absolute best!
By the end of Day 3 we had pretty much sorted our presentation for the next morning. This was also a certain stage when we could see the actual end of the enterprise training and going back to our normal routines. The final day was a bit of a blur, we had an hour in the morning to practice the pitch and the presentations began. We were third in the line up so that meant we could see what the other groups had done before we go… Good feeling, as it reassured us we were on the right track.
The pitch itself was a breeze, I’m not really sure what it was that I was scared about at the beginning on the training… I enjoyed every bit of it and felt I had achieved a lot in terms of pushing my boundaries and assumptions about what I could and could not do… Thinking back, I achieved my goals to find out about a potential career path in case academia does not work out, to challenge myself and to learn new things and meet new people. I also reevaluated my current standing with my own research and did realise how much I enjoy what I do!
So going back to my PhD all refreshed and remotivated, let’s see where I go next!