A New Look at Enterprise

Article excerpt

Enterprise and Enterprise skills form the basis of a number of Business Studies qualifications as well as being an integral part of the curriculum in many schools. This article presents some background thinking on Enterprise and outlines an interesting way of introducing Enterprise skills and qualities to students regardless of whether they are looking at Enterprise for the first time or revisiting it as part of revision.

Teaching Enterprise is something you will either love or hate. I am lover of Enterprise, the power of Enterprise and the fact that it does not discriminate. Anybody can start their own enterprise, regardless of their gender, religion, culture, social class, background or anything else. When teaching students about entrepreneurs, what it means to be entrepreneurial and everything that goes with it, it is easy to fall into the trap of stereotyping Enterprise, associating it with business start-ups. I believe there is a lot more to Enterprise and that Enterprise has a lot more to offer.

The stereotype?

When you think of an entrepreneur what sorts of images/thoughts are conjured up in your mind? For many people (and students) it could be someone famous, such as Bill Gates, Alan Sugar, Theo Paphitis, James Dyson, Richard Branson or another of the W millionaires who are seemingly portrayed as being the embodiment of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

This list perhaps confirms a misconception that all entrepreneurs are millionaires and have lots of brilliant ideas on how they're going to make their next million or two. The fact is that two out of three new businesses will fail. Maybe it is time to put Richard Branson, James Dyson, Anita Roddick and the well and truly overdone entrepreneurs in Business Studies on the back burner for a while. To support this idea, some facts about small businesses may prove interesting.

Figures from Bytestart.co.uk, a small business portal, show that there are around 4.3 million enterprises in the UK. Of these, there are around 2.7 million sole traders, approximately 520,000 partnerships and just over a million limited companies. Small businesses classed as having 0-49 employees account for over 46 per cent of employment. 99.3 per cent of enterprises employ between O and 49 people, 27,000 employ between 50 and 249 people and just 6,000 employ more than 250 people. 3.2 million small businesses employ no people.

Figures such as these help put business into some sort of perspective. These 3.2 million small businesses are not hiding millionaires - that privilege is the preserve of a very small minority of entrepreneurs. So, it may be worth dispelling at an early stage the idea that Enterprise is about making a million. So what is it about?

Young parents as entrepreneurs

Having attained the funding from the phone company 02, 1 have started my own social enterprise, aiming to motivate and inspire young parents to consider the option of Enterprise. Many sceptics have asked, 'How many young parents are interested in starting their own business?' There's only one way to find out. With a greater number of young parents within and outside the school community, I believe we should offer greater levels of assistance to such groups. Offering some form of business start-up extra-curricular activity open to all, we can make a difference.

Some of the young parents I have worked with have offered some inspiring ideas. One young parent, having spotted a niche in the market, has recently started a course in nail art alongside taking extra modules in hair and beauty. The parent noticed that there are now nail art studios popping up on every corner of the high street. Hair and beauty is a competitive industry with many salons everywhere you go. If you can't get to the salon, there are people that can come to your house.

This young parent sat back and asked some key questions, 'What about blind people? What about deaf people? …