Disclaimer* Before (I/we) launch into this article of advice, please bear in mind the article is entitled “a definitive guide” and not “the definitive guide”. There are many ways in which you can “win” at YE which others will have experienced. For example, this does not tell you how to run a “Social Enterprise”. However, it will focus on my experiences over the past year, reflecting on what other teams did around us and what we needed to do in order to progress even further. Yes, it could be argued that this guide is counter intuitive to the learning experience that Young Enterprise presents but we found that there was a lack of information regarding how you would go about doing well. If you want to have a pure learning experience by trial and error, do not read this guide. Despite the obvious and repeated references to the company that I am still running, this is in no way intended to be a marketing article or something to show off our progress through YE. Its sole purpose is to offer some helpful guidance to anyone (you?) wishing to undertake/ is undertaking the YE “Company Programme” in the UK. In addition, mentioning specific company names and praising their services has nothing to do with any affiliation with said companies and is simply an evaluation of what their products provide.
With that out of the way, on to the guide:
N.B. YE = Young Enterprise
A little introduction
My name’s Lucas Edwards, I’m 17 years old and I took the role of Sales Director for our YE company EmergyPower, selling ultra portable device chargers. We attended the South Central Regional Finals at RAL Harwell in 2015, being one of the top 64 teams in the country out of the 2,000 that participated that year. Despite not making it to the National Finals, I feel we learnt our lesson in terms of what we were lacking in order to make it through. This guide is intended to offer some (hopefully) helpful pointers for anyone competitive, taking YE seriously and is set on doing well. My motivation for writing the guide is composite. Firstly, it was one of the best school related experiences I’ve ever had & I want to share that - it’s a heck of a lot of fun, helped me decide my career choice, nurtured my skills in business, boosted my confidence and self assuredness greatly and allowed me to spend time with some really great people. Secondly, there seemed to be a lack of information out there about empirical, post experience advice from people who have been through the YE system. There are a lot of guidelines but nothing about little known, but massively helpful (and most importantly,) tested, hints. Finally, I feel there’s an uneven playing field with regards to how different local areas/ counties/ regions operate and hopefully, this should fill in bits and pieces that you aren’t told/ don’t expect. This being said, bear in mind, this guide does not claim to know of all the regional differences between areas and how YE is run there but it should help.
Why do YOU want to take part in YE?
This is a an apt question to get started with and one that may well determine the outcome of what you do and how well you do it. A key point about YE is that it requires a continuous effort over the span of 6-10 months and so the investment into the business determines the outcome of how well you may do, naturally. It may be that you would like to be an entrepreneur sometime in the future, your parents run a small business that interests you or you’d like to work in one of the aspects of a business that YE requires. All of these are motivations that should, hopefully, allow you to become passionate about the experience.
I wouldn’t say that if you simply wanted to do YE for the purpose of building your personal statement, you shouldn’t do it, but bear in mind that firstly, it doesn’t grant you a heck of a lot to write about on it (you are, of course, limited to 4,000 characters) and secondly, you may end up wanting the experience to end because you’ve “already done it”. Conversely, it does offer a wealth of transferable skills that you can show a future employer/university and provides a sense of “work experience” that few other job listings can give.
Arguably the best motivation for taking part in YE is because it’s fun. Of course you may not have envisaged how standing around in the cold trying to attract potential customers is at 10pm on a Monday evening but trust me, it can be one of the best things you’ll do at school/college/sixth form. The sense of ownership and responsibility is unparalleled and for a lot of people, the people you’ll get to meet are the main attraction - to me it was incredibly satisfying to talk to people about a subject I’m passionate about and to receive praise/constructive criticism in return.
Forming a Team
This may vary from institution to institution but we found that being a part of a team of which very few of us knew each other well (i.e. random selection) was engaging, risk averse (luckily) and allowed us to simply get to know other people better. So, if you have the choice, I’d recommend not going directly ‘with your friends’.
It’s engaging as it allows you to work with others to find out what they’re possible of doing and not what you think you know they can do. You’ll find that it’s easier to stay on task during meetings (or at least to start with) when you barely know each other. This aids your development and encourages ideas to flow. It’s risk averse as it should minimise the chances of relationships being put into any sort of danger over petty decisions made by the company. It also allows you to focus on arguing for the best idea, worrying less about satisficing with your friends. Getting to know each other better is arguably one of the best elements of YE and allows you to find people with common interests. For example, unbeknownst to me before undertaking YE, another person in the team also wanted to run their own business after University - something you may be able to develop together after YE ends.
The typical roles within a team
Roles are something subject to the demands of the company and what you intend to do with your time, however, there are some basic roles that will most probably stay in place (I am using the term “Director” but this can be used interchangeably with “manager” or anyone generally working in the department):
- Managing Director: Someone who isn’t afraid to make a decision and stick to it. This person should be a person that other people want to listen to and take advice from. They should be calm, methodical and able to take control of a multitude of situations as well as confident enough to share their views and tell others what should be done.
- Sales Director: Someone who is charismatic and likeable. You need to be able to form instant connections with your (potential) customers and so confidence and great listening skills are key. You need to be able to read, on the fly, what your customer is looking for and you should be able to explain in the appropriate terms what your product/service is, does and how it relates to your customer base
- Finance Director: Someone who is able to stay on top of ever changing information and has some competency with figures. These people do not have to be incredibly good at Maths but do have to be comfortable handling data and presenting it effectively. Depending on how you run your company, you may want someone who can keep in check your income and expenses to warn everyone else about your financial situation.
- Marketing Director - Someone who has a keen eye for what’s fresh in the world of design. There’s no use having a Marketing Director that doesn't pay attention to what other companies do around them. They should be constantly looking at adverts and displays for inspiration and design cues and be able to present that sharply in the marketing that you do. They don’t have to use Photoshop - our design work was mostly done in Powerpoint, which, as you’ll see later, is surprisingly effective. A good command of social media and the advertising that goes on there may be a helpful headstart.
- Operations Director - Someone who is able to juggle a multitude of tasks and is able to set up and bring down meetings, displays and stock checklists. Organisation is a key attribute, they have to be able to get things done fast. Anyone who is able to stay comfortably on top of a seething array of objectives is well suited.
- Human Resources Director - Someone who can be a mediator between departments and they have to be both forceful in what they’re telling others , as well as being understanding. They should also be able to maintain a close connection with the Managing Director and let them know what’s going on within the company. A key skill here is not being afraid to voice their opinion regarding the work (or lack of it) that others do but yet they should still be extremely approachable for any concerns that their team have. (N.B. We personally found no use for a HR department and instead converted it into a “Social Media” department - something we didn’t regret).
- Secretary - (I will mention it here but it’s a role which I feel is dated in context with new technology) Someone who enjoys a lot of writing. Whether it be to the Whatsapp Group Chat or simply down in a notebook, they should quickly and concisely be able to summarise what goes on in meetings and should be active in letting everyone know what has been said and what’s gone on. They should be attentive, a good listener but most importantly, active in both writing and publishing what they’ve written - what use is a Secretary that is a week out of date with meetings?
Your initial ideas & choosing the final one(s)
You’ll probably hear this a lot of times but I feel it’s important to reiterate, find as many ideas as you can. It pays to think about many ideas, discuss them, pick one, change it again, pick another and then start all over again. Take your time - it’ll be worth it. However, there does become a point where it’s more useful to take action. If your team finds an idea you can settle on after discussions, choose it and run with it. As soon as you choose the idea, find out how you’re going to fund it, start researching, gather some public opinion and generally execute on that idea. Don’t be scared to shout down an idea if you think it’s flawed. Be vocal in your objections and it’ll lead to a better final idea.
Now what makes a good idea you may be asking? The most important point in this section, and in perhaps the whole guide in general is putting forward an idea that you are incredibly passionate about. Don’t put forward an idea just because you think others will like it, or you’ve heard it’s an up and coming trend. The first consideration you should have is whether you are passionate enough about it to want to work on it, and you want to attend meetings on it and you want to talk to others about it. The whole team don’t have to share your enthusiasm to start with, but you can lead by example and inspire others with your vision for where you want the company to go. If you manage to inspire a core 3 or 4 in your team, that’ll be the driving force behind your product/service.
Speaking of that, another consideration is whether it should be a product or service. The main deciding factor here comes down to trade fairs. A company we spoke to who did YE the year before, emphasise.me (a website development firm), found that they did not sell as well as their competitors who had products on show and available to buy. However, this can be made up by the fact that their online revenue well exceeded other companies total revenue due to the nature of a trade fair: most potential customers only carry up to £20 cash on them, and this limits revenues well below what could be achieved online. This is due to the finite number of people at a trade fair compared to the “infinite” number of potential customers online, able to access well over £20.
Another major consideration which we learnt the hard way is to consider your ethical/social/environment considerations from the start, i.e. your product/service. We were tripped up over the fact our product could may well have been made in a low paying, poorly managed factory without our knowledge and we did nothing to prevent this. Having a judge say to us the word “China.” and myself and our Operations Director giving them a puzzled look does not sound good regarding your socio-ethical considerations.
Lastly (or the last reason that is objectively noteworthy in my opinion), is the public reception of your product. Try to get it to appeal to as many people as possible, maximising your potential customer base. A phone charger can piggyback on the huge handset market that already exists, for example. 1.5 billion people have smartphones - that’s 1.5 billion people not having enough battery life. Think about markets that you can exploit, especially ones that are currently trending. Make sure you carry out some market research into the product although it can be misleading if done on a small scale. It also depends on where the sample is taken as to your results. Therefore, try to gain market research information from people similar to who you will sell to, rather than an “opportunity sample” (i.e. the easiest people to ask).
There are many other considerations that could be discussed but a lot of them can be found simply by searching Google for “How to start a company”. Also, read the rules. It says what you’re not allowed to do. You really don’t want to be caught out on this.
This is seen as an integral part (although not a necessary one) of YE. Many companies run events such as football tournaments or cake sales in order to acquire a startup capital. They don’t have to be unique or innovative, you aren’t being marked on this although it could contribute to your social/ethical/environmental standings if you factor this in.
Another way that many companies acquire a startup capital is through the use of shares. You’re allowed 500, sold at £1 each. This £500 can then go towards anything you wish and the shares can be sold to anyone. This allows for a quick and easy method for acquiring a fund but does require (small) investments from the team and/or external sources.
A third method that is not oft talked about comes in the form of private investment. This is not in the form of shares but is the use of your own (team members) money put into the pot. For example, 3 members of our company bought their allocation of shares plus gave another £175 as a “donation” to the cause. This does not break the rules of YE as long as it is stated as a donation and does not comes from a source external of the team (i.e. only team members can do this). It may be a necessary method in order to get large capital funded products/services off the ground.
Buying & Selling
Buy low sell high. That’s as simple as I can distill to. Hunt around as much as you can for what you’re buying, don’t just trust big names like “VistaPrint” for business cards, for example. You can get much better deals looking on Amazon or eBay and hunting through sellers who are competitive in a crowded marketplace. Our pull up banners were half the price of what VistaPrint offered us.
Think about where you’re buying from. Our product involved conversing with factories in Shenzhen, China and so entailed talking across different time zones and some conversations in broken English. In addition to that, freight costs were high - extortionately so - bear that in mind with any purchases. Sourcing materials/products from Asia may seem cheaper in terms of outright cost but you may pay for this in terms of shipping delays and lower quality customer service.
Be economical with postage. Think about when you really need it for - don’t just jump on to the express postage bandwagon
Think rationally about what it is you’re buying. It may be a no brainer to buy a set of business cards in some respect but think about your business and the advantage it’ll give you. If you’re not a customer facing business, why are you buying loads of customer facing advertising? As obvious as it may sound, selling is all about making the customer want your product. This can be done in a number of ways but what we’ll focus on here is being a good salesperson. The first step is identifying the customer you’re going to pitch to. Who are they? Are they older, younger, knowledgeable about your product? Tailor your pitch to suit your answers to these questions among many others that allow you to build a mental database about the person. There is no point in trying to explain how your device has a 2100mAh battery to someone who clearly doesn’t know or care. What they may be interested in is how this translates into real world performance.
Be clearly enthusiastic about your brand. This works in talking to people on a day to day basis as well as in sales. If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re saying this is infectious to the other person. It may not be the most gripping topic but trust me, your passion for it will show and the customer can get hooked on this.
Be flexible. You might be able to offer a deal to customers, and this means they would buy your product/service if they wouldn't have otherwise. This might come in the form of a multi-buy discount, free gift or voucher code, for example.
You may wish to try and have a mixture of boys and girls selling. Some people would prefer to talk to boys, some prefer to talk girls, simple as.
Look your best. Generally it’s known to make you seem more likeable, which is key to selling. As a sidenote, you’d be surprised how many sales are made simply through flirting with the customer - obviously, be sensible.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for the person in charge of your marketing to be up to date with what successful, modern marketing consists of. This is integral to your brand and is, in my opinion, the one area where the most knowledge is needed. Whether this is being familiar with the concept of ‘flat design’ or how to properly use your social media in an engaging way, it gives a huge first impression. The way that we familiarised ourselves with what successful marketing is in 2015, was to take inspiration from other companies surrounding our field. For example, Apple Inc. & Beats Electronics are two of the most accomplished consumer brands and have extremely loyal customers - much of which is developed through the aesthetics of their company. dbrand has one of the most honest and one of the funniest satirical commerical Twitter accounts I’ve ever seen. Their marketing can fill in for a product that is otherwise pretty unremarkable, phone skins. As previously mentioned, all three of these companies have a huge focus on aesthetics which has proven to be a massive trend for companies over recent years. Form over function is something which is increasingly needed with a slow in some areas of technological progress, for example.
Endorsement from people in positions of (relative) power may serve as something which significantly increases your brand exposure. Name dropping in presentations provides a major impact and by them sharing what you have, this allows you some further public reach. It also attests to the quality of your product if someone endorses what you’ve produced and this can serve as a gentle backup to your claims in the eyes of the customer. If by chance you manage to get an endorsement from someone with a devout following, them simply being affiliated with the product can bring you sales based on blind loyalty.
Don’t be afraid to ask to have your product promoted. Seriously, we simply asked a newspaper if they’d like to write an article on us and our press release made the front page. Don’t be scared in being a bit pushy but polite in trying to get what you want and don’t be worried in the first place, you never know where it may lead, even if there’s a rejection.
Consistency is vital in building a credible, professional brand that people trust. You might want to invest a little time into a set of design guidelines which outline company fonts, colours, shapes, words, templates etc. Ensure that whatever you produce is congruent: the same design on letterheads with the same design on receipts with the same design on instructions. Having something which looks right and fits well often makes you appear so much more mature. You have an identity. Check out our trio of adverts below:
Ensure that you don’t become lazy with your accounts as this can lead to a downward spiral in terms of financial attentiveness. Staying afloat in business requires staying on top of all transactions including what is owed and what you’re owed - you don’t wanna forget about being paid back, or paying back, for that matter. A helpful tool we found for this was to create a stocklist and profit/loss account that anyone in the team could read at any time, this was achieved by using Google Drive (but the same could be done with any other cloud storage system). The beauty of Google Drive was that it allowed one copy of a document to be edited in real time without the need for multiple saves, using Google Sheets. This meant that editing accounts was as simple as logging into a device with an internet connection and changing a few numbers for these changes to then be synced across devices in seconds (more on team organisation later). Bear in mind that the Financial Director is not serving as a barrier to funds but should keep track of what income and expenditure occurs. They hold no sense of singular control over the money the company has and has the same vote in spending/saving as anyone else on the team. They simply audit.
YE does require you to pay taxes before your area final (this will form your interim/final accounts) so ensure you have the money to pay. You may wish to factor VAT into any sale made on your product/service to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the YE “tax year”. Additionally, be sure to read over how taxes payable are worked out as it can happen that instead of owing YE money, you may be owed money if your expenditure exceeds your sales. Invariably and unfortunately, you will not be receiving money from YE if this is found to be true!
The use of HR will vary wildly through different teams but is perhaps something you find ultimately redundant. Myself taking part in YE as a team originating from a Sixth Form, the school had the chance to put forward two teams - EmergyPower (as mentioned) and a team called ‘BiigPlanet’. Our use of HR was a total contrast but still illustrates my point. I would say that, arguably, if you do not find you have many team conflicts simply dissolve the HR Director/Team Member Role and instead reallocate those members to another department. If there is a real underutilisation of these people in comparison to say, your Sales team, reallocate these people to where the demand for minds is higher. It will also stop the people who were originally part of HR feeling as if they’re ‘pigeonholed’ into one role of team reconciliation. In a team that functions well interpersonally, this may mean the HR Director will never end up doing much work as they may be ‘waiting’ for a dispute.
On the other side of the coin, if you find that there are a variety of team disputes, HR is needed but not necessarily strictly as a dedicated HR role. Sure, it may be useful to have someone who can mediate between people and their concerns but it may end up being a whole team effort to ensure the fluidity of operation within the team. Having a HR manager seems a little artificial when working with a small team as members of the team can go directly to the managing director of the company with any concerns - HR seems to be an arbitrary & unneeded middleman with the roles of Managing Director and Secretary already there.
Group messaging and cloud storage offer you, in our experience, extremely powerful tools for getting tasks done quickly, while incorporating the whole team’s opinion. Whatsapp allows for fast paced and natural group discussions which people can be attentive to, leading to people always knowing what needs to be done and how to do it. It’s cross platform, available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry & PC (excluding origin iOS devices), which means there’s no real excuse for young people not to be able to use it and this contributes to its appeal. Decisions can be made quickly and decisively with the whole team’s opinion being taken into account and changes to schedules and announcements can be broadcast with relative ease. As long as the conversation stays on topic, it can be similar to an ongoing, flexible meeting in which everyone is always able to attend. You may wish to structure some downtime into the group whereby no business is done at certain times to limit its everpresent nature.
The cloud storage client that we used was a Google Drive account set up with a temporary email address (it was set up before our company emails as we wished to get some collaborative storage as soon as possible). Google Drive is again, cross platform, and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection as a web page which increases its appeal (no installable application necessary). Creating native documents & spreadsheets was also extremely useful as this allowed files to be edited in real time on the web for everyone to see. I recall once having a conversation with my Managing Director where we simply typed what we wanted to say on the same document together and we could read what each other was typing immediately. Another benefit of using Google Drive for us was that it allowed people with ChromeOS devices (i.e. Chromebooks) the simplest way possible of editing documents since a Chromebook is web based.
Setting up company emails in conjunction with purchasing our domain was fun, but ultimately not many emails were used. Communication between the team was facilitated through group messaging and communication from outside the team took place with only a couple of email addresses. Our ‘Sales’ email was used extensively whereas some individual ones were not utilised at all. Therefore, it can be useful to have company emails to provide a professional presence but is really not essential. Emailing our centre leads, business advisors & event organisers was again, useful but does not really have to be carried out through company emails.
Doing well in the eyes of the judges
Impressing the judges is often not an objective process. For trade fairs and finals there are marking criteria that they should follow but often certain categories can be overlooked in favour of a more general “good impression”. Scores in some categories may be artificially high if the judges simply seem to like you more than other teams.
Your Business Plan, done before you start trading, is not a key document regarding your success. Yes, most counties will provide a trophy for it at the Area Final but it provides little to no impact on the winners of the Area Final. We didn’t do at all well in this category and luckily, it’s minimally conducive to “Winning at Young Enterprise”. What we did learn from it though was how it should not be rushed and takes a long time to perfect. You’ll be doing this within your first 3 months of trading and it tends to get forgotten about with the rapid expansion of your business in physical terms. Don’t forget about it. Plan ahead and make sure you’ve consulted with your centre lead/business advisor about what goes into a good Business Plan. We had an Area Event to talk about what makes a great Business Plan and we still failed miserably. Be vigilant.
At trade stands it really is about the presentation of your company (perhaps this applies for the whole of YE to be honest). Your advertising should show consistency and uniformity, providing a professional look and the people at your trade stand should be able to answer most questions comfortably. Something that differentiates some trade stands from others is how much the people manning the trade stand talk. It really is beneficial to have a long, long list of things to talk to the judges about, really engaging them. It allows for natural conversation, more natural than simply answering questions and also gives you some power in dictating where the conversation should go. If you’re not as confident in answering questions in some areas rather than others, you can steer people to where you want them to go. Therefore, you should be able to get to a stage where people are simply having to leave your trade stand because they don’t have time to talk to you anymore - you seem like a real company with big ideas and this rubs off on the judges. Winning your Local Trade fair events helps to cement your integrity and reputation as a business that knows what they’re doing and the overall winner receives a “Trade Fair Cup” at the Area Final. However, it offers no quantifiable value to who wins the Area Final and perhaps little to no value at all unless you say, win all of your trade fairs (we worked hard enough to win 3/3 + “Best Trade Stand” at our Regional Final). Finally, try and take as many practice opportunities for trade fairs as possible. Whether that be selling at your school/college/sixth form at Open events or managing to be able to get into another YE Area’s competitive trade fairs, they all help you in terms of what to say, stand, act, wear and present. Just relax, have fun, smile, be naturally confident and this will rub off on your customers. Take a look at our trade stand set up below, it stayed relatively similar throughout the competition:
You’ll receive a lot of guidance in terms of the Company Report from your Centre Leads/Business Advisors which I won’t go over again here. What I will say is that the main aim of it is to appear professional, clear and intuitive. - while being deeply informative One of the biggest mistakes people make is making the Company Report too much like an essay. It’s not. Yes, you do need to include a lot of information but think about how to go about that. Swap a bar chart for a pie chart, or a paragraph for an infographic. It needs to be something that people are interested in reading and not something that’s (too much) of a chore. Make sure that again, it’s consistent and provides a company identity (consistency is key for the whole of YE) and this denotes professionalism. What we found to be a “cute” (as a team member called it) personal addition was the use of quotes at the top of each page. This gave an insight to what each team member gained from the competition and while aesthetically pleasing was also something we wanted to ‘touch the heartstrings’ of the judges. Just remember to draft, redraft and edit the Company Report. It takes again, a long time, like the Business Plan and so should be carefully considered, especially to get everything you wish to say inside 10 pages.
The presentation was by far my favourite part of competition and was extremely nerve wracking at times. Simply put, pick people that you know are 1) confident 2) speak well and 3) have good chemistry together. This will ensure that the speakers (up to 5) will be able to get across their message calmly & eloquently while enjoying it together. As you’ll have a presentation of some kind going on behind you - try to include as little text as possible, you don’t want to bore people but instead engage them. The presentation should simply be an accompaniment to the main course: what you’re saying. Try to make your slides dynamic by tastefully using animations and perhaps including a video. A video is by no means essential and eats into your precious 4 minutes but can provide a great effect in mesmerising the audience, if done right. Props used on stage, such as your product or packaging are good and can be used to illustrate your points. However, make sure that people can see what you’re holding, either by holding something big enough or putting a representation of whatever you’re holding on to a slide behind you. Intro music, for when you’re walking on, is a nice touch if you’re able to make it slick but it can look awkward otherwise. Most importantly, make sure you practice. We must have gone over our presentation close to 150 times both formally and informally by the time we got to our Regional Final - it’s not as hard to do as you may think but just ensure you’re 100% confident you know what you’re saying, how to say it and what the are slides behind you at any one time. Try not to look at the slides very much at all during your presentation, it shows a lack of preparation. What’s good is that in most display set ups in meeting rooms etc is that you may either have a personal display in front of you to see what’s on screen or you can see at the corner of your eye what’s going on onscreen from the colours you’re able to perceive. A change in slide, for example, may be indicated by a shift in colour from white to black. Microphones are a bit of a contentious issue at YE. Some teams like to use them and some don’t. If you’re using a mic, make sure it isn’t too close to your mouth for the sound to crackle and distort. Whatever you do, make sure you speak loudly while being clear and slow.
What I feel that we were caught out on was the shift in seeming opinion of what is valued between pre ‘Regional’ and post ‘County’ stages. At County level, there seemed to be a real emphasis on who can produce the best business case. We managed to win our County Final and one of the judges was quoted as saying, as the announced the winner “the product was incredibly current, and incredibly scalable” (scalability of a company implies that the underlying business model offers the potential for economic growth within the company). Note also there were little to no questions regarding the social/ethical/environmental questions of the business as a whole.
In contrast to this, at our Regional Finals in Oxfordshire, from the word go there seemed to be a real importance placed on social/ethical/environmental considerations. Most of the teams had this factored into their presentations as if they were told what they were being marked on heaviest. As previously mentioned, there were questions asked surrounding the ethics of our company (see “China.”) which we had never encountered at lower levels. Moreover, the winners of the final were a team whose business case revolved around giving back to a Bangladeshi Women’s Cooperative in the form of their profits. I am not trying to begrudge the winners here but am simply trying to say that the line between Social & Private enterprise was blurred, to the detriment to of the Private Enterprise teams. Therefore, you should be considering social/ethical/environmental sustainability. This product/service/business approach should be considered from the conception of your company simply in order to “tick all the boxes”. It could be argued this is where Young Enterprise fails, however, it becomes a game simply of ticking boxes instead of providing a viable business case, but this is beyond the scope of this article and can be readily debated.
This can often be a tricky area regarding how things will go from the end of YE. Let’s sort some rules out. Firstly, you’re not a real company. You’re not a private limited company or a partnership but instead simply a branch of YE. being a “branch” entitles you to no legal status separate of YE. So if someone wants to sue you, they have to sue YE. Secondly, the company is “closed down” either when you cease trading, that should be sometime in May, or the 31st of July. There’s no real clarification on which. The law says when you cease trading, YE says the 31st of July. Before the 31st of July, YE states that you need to: pay all creditors, receive payments from all debtors, hold an annual general meeting (your last meeting), sell off all your assets and close the bank account. After this is done, the branch then closes. There’s no information on what happens if you miss this deadline, so, I assume, you stop being a branch of YE regardless. There is again, no information on this but I believe that if you still have some assets remaining, they become private property of the person in possession of them on the 1st of August.
Regardless of whether you want to carry on with the company or not after YE, it has to be shut down before it can start up again and so when you start again, you form a new company. I’m not going to discuss whether you should start up your company again as that’s almost unanimously subjective, but, be careful if you choose to.
If you decide to start up the company with all of the people you had in it before, there should be no problems. However, if you decide to have only a few start it, there becomes equity issues surrounding who’s a part and who isn’t. After YE ended, I contacted our MD and asked if he wanted to start the company up again. He agreed, and we sought one extra person and so approached our previous Marketing Director. As a trio, we committed ourselves to restarting what we left off in June and wished to use the same name as before. We then told our group what we intended on doing and the response wasn’t great. Be prepared for team members to object to the idea of exclusivity in regards to who will continue the company, and expect to have to pay people in order for you to obtain independence. What it is important to bear in mind however is that anyone in the group has equal rights to form a group to restart the company. You do not have to include anyone in the restart if you so wish. This isn’t a game of “I’m trying to take advantage of other previous work”, it’s just that sometimes it has to be done in order to progress. Hopefully you can come to a decision which compromises with everyone.
What may be useful is to set this up pre-YE exit, in the form of a plan. This may be a plan for how the wages are split at the end of YE or what happens to the ownership of assets or what may happen in terms of restarting the company. Just to reiterate, it pays to be prepared for the company’s (ultimate) “demise”.
And so, that marks the end of a reasonable extensive series of hints and tips. Hopefully you learned something. As counterintuitive to the whole idea of YE this guide may be, I personally hope for it to suit some people who want to be as competitive as possible and get a headstart on the competition. Just always remember, this guide isn’t concrete, there are many, many other ways for you to do well. Enjoy enterprising.
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