The start of the weekend marks the end of the 4 day Enterprise Explore Programme that I have been attending this week. Friday night and I’m sitting on the sofa suffering from brain frazzle. If I had the energy to get up and look in the mirror I’m sure I would see wisps of steam funnelling out of each ear.
The course covered everything from setting your company values and creating a corresponding marketing strategy, to handling your own taxes and putting together balance sheets. We trawled through the figures of a hypothetical beauty business, filling out spreadsheets and flexing our calculator fingers until everyone got the concept.
It’s actually interesting to think back over the various companies that I have worked for over the years and imagine how they were conceptualised. At some point someone would have sat down and done a break-even summary, analysed their potential customer, and done a test trade to see whether there is a market for their product or service. It’s not something I have ever thought about before - you just assume when you join a company that it has been trading at it’s current level forever and you forget that at some stage they were just starting out with as much uncertainty as I am.
The main reason for the course really is to introduce you to the realities of self employment versus being employed by someone else. Gone are the office chin wags about X Factor, the array of awesome West End lunch spots, and the Friday after work beers and drunken oversharing. These are to be replaced by tax returns and sleepless nights.
Despite all of these downsides, the course and our tutor Stuart clearly stoked the fire for a lot of the young wannabe entrepreneurs. While we learned that setting up your own business is incredibly labour intensive, exhausting and risky, you can tell that everyone now has a renewed focus and desire to make a go of it. Armed with the knowhow and the support of the Prince’s Trust, the reality of being your own boss seems more within reach that ever before for the most determined of the courses attendees.