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Winning and losing

Is “winning” always a good thing? Here we discuss the benefits of failure.

We’ve been having a discussion about ‘winning” and “not winning”. What does it look like in your business, school or community?   How do you respond when things don’t quite work out.

Sometimes it is not about competition – for some public sector organisations “not winning” maybe a downgrade in the audit or not achieving key goals.  For the last five years schools in Welwyn Hatfield compete in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This year there was a prize for the overall winner.  The winning team didn’t raise most money from fundraising.  Neither did they have the best prepared presentation. It was the grit and determination of the team to succeed – at times in spite of the School hierarchy – that convinced the judges.

In a very real sense all of the teams that took part won.   Our latest video, shows some of the lessons that the young people took from their involvement with the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The message from our business judges was that in business, winning and losing are regular occurrences and cannot be disguised from the future workforce. Here at Red Potato we’ve had more than our share of failures, which have at times translated into costly financial losses and more importantly repetitional damage. Those failures were not comfortable but they have become deeply seared into the organisation. We have learnt from those failures to improve processes and procedures so the mistakes are not repeated. That is the very uncomfortable truth about failure: it can be a very powerful force that drives you to improve. Maybe Young People need to fail more in order to find their real success.

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Perseverance key to success for the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentices

Perseverance central to success

Congratulations to all the teams in the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.   This is the fourth year Red Potato have worked with Welwyn Hatfield Council to deliver the Challenge.  Each year there seems to be some common element to the teams; this year it was perseverance.

The Challenge involves groups of young people working together with local businesses and charities over approximately six months.   Each year the groups of young people go through a process of forming and developing as a team.  This year the process of “form, reform, split up, make up” happened again.  What was different though was the perseverance shown by team members. Why is that important? Well, the ability to keep going with the Challenge despite changes to the team, was an important factor in the teams that were succcessful. The ability to keep going, to persevere despite the set backs is important. And crucially that grit and determination to make things work came through, in the team presentations. So, congratulations to all the teams for their achievements! Perseverance is a key quality for potential entrepreneurs. Based upon the 2017/18 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge it looks like the teams have learnt a lot about perseverance, lessons that will help them in their future careers.

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Three ideas to bring creativity into the business

Business owners often look for ways they can stand out from the crowd, here are three ideas that will bring creativity into the business.


Red Potato are involved in several projects that are connecting businesses with schools.  Most importantly, these projects are also bringing creativity to businesses.

Here are three ideas that will bring creativity into your business:

  1. Participate in Careers Fairs

    Careers Fairs are run by local schools and Colleges.  From the school’s point of view the aim is for employers to meet with student that could become interns or full time employees.   For the employer, it is a great opportunity to promote the different opportunities available in the business.  The Careers Fair can also raise awareness.   Asking the question “What do you think this business does?” is a good way to engage young people at Careers Fairs.  Be prepared for some “off-beat” responses though…businesses are often surprised by the answers they get to this question!

  2. Become trained as a mentor, mentor young people

    Red Potato are pleased to support the Careers & Enterprise Company Enterprise Advisor programme.  There are many different initiatives available to help employers train to become a mentor. In many organisations mentoring is central to employee development.  Teachers in schools and colleges are under time huge pressures. It is not realistic to expect that teachers will have the time to be able mentor to all of their students. Yet business leaders have unique experiences and insights that they can contribute.  It is a bewildering world when you are 16, with many different choices.   A trained business mentor could help young people navigate through the myriad career choices.

  3. Offer work experience

    Work experience is not an easy option for businesses.  Therefore an effective work experience placement requires preparation and time from the business.  Most relevant to this, was a statement by a Welwyn Hatfield (business mentor) Dragon.  The Dragon said they had been inspired by the Dragons Apprentice Challenge to offer structured work experience, because it was good for their business and great for the community the business serves.


So what has all this to do with business creativity?  As a result of these three ideas, employers find that young people have a habit of questioning business practice.  Most of all businesses soon see that they have to think more creatively, in order to keep up with the challenges of the market.


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Step into Hospitality

We took our first Step into Hospitality, in December.

…Everyone liked it so much we will be taking a second Step into Hospitality course in January 2017!

Red Potato were commissioned to design and deliver the course.  Following the course one of the delegates said “I have enjoyed this course, it opened my eyes to a lot of things I wasn’t aware off”.  – Which was great because that was the aim!

The aim of the course was to enable people to see the range of careers available in hospitality.   And that those careers are accessible for carers, lone parents or those without formal qualifications.  Prior to this course, many people said that they simply didn’t think hospitality could offer them a fulfilling career. We are particularly grateful to our guest speakers from Oaklands College and Hospitality Jobs UK who were able to dispel that myth and inspire the delegates about careers in the industry.

One of the most powerful comments was the delegate who said

“the course made me realise that I can do much more than settling for a low paid job as a cleaner”.

So what were the origins of the course? Well it came from some frank discussions with staff at Circle Housing and the Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust.   During those discussions it emerged that even though there were lots of opportunities nearby, many local people were simply not benefiting.   So we worked together with to develop a course that would allow people to do three things:

  1. Gain a practical qualification in food safety
  2. Acquire the skills and knowledge to access jobs in hospitality
  3. Be Inspired!

After Christmas, we will be contacting everyone to see how they have used the knowledge, qualification and inspiration to acquire a job.  Keep reading the blog for future updates!


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2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge puts fire in the belly!


The successful launch of the 2016-17 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge was in early October.  The teams are now hard at work putting together their plans and learning about how to fully exploit the resources available to them.

Some of the things that have been happening so far include Halloween cake sales, designing goods for the Christmas markets and of course doughnut sales!

Make sure you follow their progress over the next few months by following the Twitter feed @Dragonappwelhat

In addition to direct sales, we hope the teams will look creatively at how they can use the “resources” at their disposal.

We are lucky to have ‘A’ list SuperDragons who are happy to consider helping the teams!  The Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge is also a great opportunity to practice and develop networking skills.   If any of the teams would like to find out more about how businesses network, they should attend one of the many business network groups in the area.   One of the groups we are happy to recommend attending is the Welwyn B-49 group

If any of the teams wish to find out more please make contact with us via @Dragonappwelhat


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Careers Events

careers eventsCareers events

The new school term means more focus on education and crucially equipping young people with the skills to get a job.  The Red Potato team are already working with several business partners who wish to run careers events.  The events will be very different.  Each event is aimed at a different section of the job-seeker market.

Red Potato are helping market the events by engaging with schools and colleges.  We will also seek to capture some of the buzz of the events using video.  The videos will be used to prompt further action and support after the careers events.  In this way the careers event is not limited to one awesome day, but is part of a process in which employers can find, engage and retain employees.


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A message to all Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Teams…

“Don’t be a stranger.  Stay in touch, keep the network going”

How many times do we hear people say things like “keep up your networking, because it will pay dividends eventually”.

We start with good intentions to remain in touch, keep the contact going but we get distracted, events happen and then it becomes a bit awkward to re-build the business relationship.  Sounds a bit familiar? Don’t despair, it happens to everyone.

Why is networking important?

So our appeal to the brilliant young people who participated in the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge 2015-16 is to stay in touch with your charity and business Dragon.  You have done a lot of the really hard work by being part of the Dragons Apprentice Challenge.  Now is the time to build upon the relationships you have made with your charity and business Dragon: Tell them what you are doing to develop your skills and competencies. The business Dragon and/or Charity may not reply immediately, but keep going!

Show  your resilience and determination – you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose!

Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge

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Welwyn Hatfield Super Dragons in action!

Behind the Scenes with the Super Dragons…

It wasn’t easier, but we did it!  Due to our high level connections, we were able to smuggle a camera into the Super Dragons lair.  The time-lapse video shows the judges in action as they assess the teams’ business plans.

Most of all, it was a fascinating insight into the issues that are important to the judges.


What is the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge?

The Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge has been running for six years.  The Challenge is open to all the secondary schools and the Further Education College, that are located in the Borough.

What are the three benefits for the students?

The Dragons Apprentice Challenge offers Year 12 students three clear benefits:

  1. experience setting up and running a business
  2. gain job related skills
  3. learn about the work of their designated charity.

Why your business should be involved:


  • The Challenge is a great personal development opportunity for your staff to mentor and advise young people The mentoring can be about issues ranging from communication and leadership through to financial and business risk.
  • The programme offers great marketing opportunities, in addition you can promote your business involvement
  • Businesses that are involved in the Challenge, sometimes find they can build a stronger profile with the local community and local schools through business networking opportunities

Hence, if you run a business in Welwyn Hatfield this project could be especially relevant.

Therefore, why not contact us for a quick “no obligation” chat? We’d really like to meet more Welwyn Hatfield businesses who want to impact locally

Finally to make sure you participate contact us via Twitter @welhatdragonsapp or,  call 01707 357104

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Business owners: do you remember what it was like to be 16?

No, we don’t remember either! But it certainly wasn’t an easy time; so huge congratulations to the young people who ventured into the Dragons lair last week to present their business plans.

Success, Failure and Experience

The teams came to tell the story of how they succeeded, failed and learnt from experience, during the 2016 Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

The eight teams had to brave a “friendly” grilling from our Super Dragons: Special thanks to our Super Dragons; Sir Roy Gardner, Robin Webb (St Lukes Hospice), Joanne Price (Barclays Bank) and Terry Michinson (Welwyn Hatfield Times) for “firing” off questions to the teams.

We were genuinely impressed by the preparation and passion shown by the teams.  It was great to hear their honest reflections upon the process.  Some of the young people said that their involvement had inspired them to continue to work with their charity and in some cases the young people said they were going to set up in business when they leave school.   Let’s hope they remember the lessons learnt as part of the Welwyn Hatfield Dragons Apprentice Challenge.

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3 Reasons why we are involved with careers education

Red Potato believe passionately in careers education.  So we wanted to be the first to “sign up” as an Enterprise Advisor at Hertfordshire LEP.

Hertfordshire LEP are delivering The Careers & Enterprise Company Programme.  This forms part of a nationwide network being rolled out across LEP areas.

The ambition is to:

• inspire and prepare young people for the fast changing world of work
• shape the future workforce to meet local business needs

Why careers education is important

Here are three reasons why business leaders in Hertfordshire should get involved with this programme:

  1. “What you sow, so shall you reap” – firstly, your business can gain important insights into what your next generation of customers wants and expects from your business.
  2. The young people will give you especially relevant feedback and new insights.   Hence, you will learn how to improve your business.
  3. Most of all this is your opportunity to give back to Hertfordshire. As a result you can help future generations create wealth and prosperity in the local economy by sharing your experience and insights with young people.

Careers Education