Lynn Kelly, Programme Executive, Bridge2Business - Ayrshire College
I thought this would be an ideal time to reflect on the last eight months, since starting with Bridge 2 Business at Ayrshire College.
From innovative classroom workshops, A Nil by Mouth photography competition winner, on-going business projects with Supported Learning Students, exclusive events, exciting new collaborations with local employers, to classroom visits from Local Heroes and support organisations it has been an inspiring and enterprising year, and it’s not over yet!
An exclusive highlight was the launch of the Enterprising Students Grant, which is designed to offer Ayrshire College students a comprehensive mentoring support programme and the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £5,000. A first for a UK College, which is non-restrictive to a student’s age, level or course area.
Since September last year, I have been privileged to meet so many inspiring and talented students who are interested in developing their enterprise skills to start up their own business. Four such students were the first to be recently awarded the 5k grant submission deadline in March. This was testament to their dedication to developing their practical skills and putting their ideas into practice, which is key to learning by doing. Each of the four students worked over 2-3 months to develop their business plan, which saw an idea progressing from a few thoughts jotted down to a completed business plan. Although the idea of completing a business plan may sound daunting, if you are passionate about your business idea and believe in the heart of the business – then anything is possible. I saw each student learn new skills and gain knowledge when preparing their business plan. The more they talked about their ideas, their confidence grew as did the scale and potential of their idea. Not all their original plans stayed on track – which is why it is so important to put your ideas into practice to then learn from the experience and adapt.
Read the links below to learn more about the students who were approved for the grant and share their personal journey into enterprise.
When you have a business idea, the quicker you can start to put that idea into practice then the sooner you will learn and develop. Over the last six months, I have worked with students on developing their practical skills, by securing work experience opportunities and exhibition stands at trade events to “sell” their business ideas and products whilst getting feedback and gaining essential practical skills.
Networking is key for developing your business idea, as you never know what collaboration opportunities are around the corner. On that note, it was encouraging to see the initial round of applicants collaborate with each other. Bryan Shaw of 18:15 Media created digital campaigns for Scott Haddow’s 11:11 Events business, and Aaron Gregory of Artificial Pathogen created branded T-shirts – all in the name of collaboration and supporting similar start-up businesses.
The original four students who have been approved for the grant have all agreed to act as mentors to give advice and support to future students who are planning to start their own business. This is an invaluable opportunity to learn and hear from students who have successfully completed the process and are still learning something new every day!
When you start to talk about your ideas, you will soon gain feedback and confidence in your ability. Self-believe is sometimes hard to achieve, but as you make progress and start to develop your skills then this adds confidence to your approach in achieving your goals.
The opportunities available now whilst studying at College are incredible. I would encourage every student to make the most of them all, and part of my job is to direct you to the right opportunities for your career and business plans. If you are interested in developing business skills, you can request for me to host a Bridge 2 Business workshop for your class or as part of an event. Equally there are on-going enterprise workshops I host for students interested in starting a business and who wish to apply for the grant, which you can request to join. If you are interested in meeting to discuss your own business plans, then this is something you can book with me anytime. You don’t need have finalised plans, or to have prepared anything – just knowing what you enjoy and how you want to develop your skills is a great starting point.
I have included more information about the Bridge 2 Business programme and a link to the website, which hosts great resource materials and all our news updates across colleges in Scotland.
At https://bridge2business.org.uk/ we practice a “Learning by Doing” model, designed to get students essential practical skills to develop their business skills. Bridge 2 Business offers college students first hand opportunities to engage with appropriate entrepreneurial role models. Role models who are relevant to college students who have an interest in setting up their own business now or in the future or for those who are looking to take enterprise skills to their workplace.
Alongside the opportunity to meet and engage with role models the programme helps connect college students with the great networks that exist in Scotland to support our much-needed start-up businesses. Networking is key for developing your business idea, and here have been several Bridge 2 Business events at the college, which has seen college students in event roles, and presenting whilst developing their networking skills.
For more information on the Bridge2business programme available to Ayrshire college students please visit http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/enterprising-student/
For information on Bridge 2 Business follow @bridge2business and visit www.bridge2business.org.uk
For direct information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org