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The last of British Summertime

Autumn term round-up:

We hope you had a chance to enjoy the last of British Summertime!

Here at the Red Potato patch, we’ve been doing some fun video and animations for our great clients. Here is a quick round-up of some of the fabulous projects we’ve been involved with recently:

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (Herts LEP) have a made a big commitment to engage young people with Enterprise.  This commitment includes promoting the links between schools and businesses. As part of our work with Herts LEP we’re producing an infographic showing labour market intelligence. The aim of the infographic is to help the Hertfordshire Enterprise Advisors work with schools on careers topics.   If you are interested there are lots of ways you too can become involved via the #Unexpectedmentor campaign

We’ve really enjoyed working with the friendly folk at Wycombe District Council and local businesses such as The Works.  For too long some local business parks and town centres have been neglected. As a result, small things like traffic light phasing, electronic signs not working, overgrown vegetation can quickly make an area look unloved.   So Red Potato staff have been working with local business to get them engaged with improving the space outside their front door.  By working with Business Improvement Districts and business, local authorities can make changes to an area.  The result is that businesses decide to stay and hopefully more businesses become attracted to locate in the area.  Simples!

Beyond Summertime, looking forward to Christmas:

Good luck to all of those people who participated in the #StepIntoHospitality course.  The Red Potato team delivered the course on behalf of Welwyn Hatfield Council.  The course helps local people to apply for jobs in the local hospitality sector and also enables them to sit the exam for Level 2 Food Safety.   Most of all, following the exam, we had another very strong pass rate, which was great to see!  The latest cohort of delegates are now well on their way to securing a job in hospitality and catering.  Well done everyone!   It is going to be a busy time in the run up to Christmas!

Finally, if you’d like to relive summertime; the festivals, food and fun, do have a look at the dogs and their owners enjoying @TheGameFair in Hatfield during July!

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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

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One month on: Our Agile Business Consultant (& Head Barista) gives his views

“It has been one month since I started working with Red Potato, although it feels as if it was longer than that – in a good way! As an Agile Business Consultant, I have been to different places meeting different and quite interesting individuals such as business consultants, owners and CEOs. This has given me more insight into Red Potato and what it is trying to achieve and I now participate more with designing service features, sales processes design and implementation. I feel that I am in a better position now to add value to the business and I am hoping to see increased sales for the business and increased value for the customers as a result of my work.

I have also been working on quite exciting projects such as developing a business expansion plan abroad for delivering Business Boot-camps and taking part in the lead team of a partnership of around 30 organisations bidding for a big project. Considering the latter – initially I have been invited to a meeting between the lead team members and while I was not sure what to expect, I made some suggestions which were greatly appreciated and put on the spotlight. More importantly, I have been taken on board to complete various project-related tasks in congruence with my suggestions, which I also enjoy doing, resulting in a seamlessly increasing involvement with the project. This has exceeded my expectations as I was not expecting to have much impact or say whatsoever being so new to Red Potato and its field of work.

I am worried about how my efforts will develop, but I am also committed to achieve results and I know I can rely on Red Potato’s support to get me to where I want to be.”

Asen has been on work placement with Red Potato and is doing some brilliant work on business processes.  Asen is a qualified barista and makes the best cup of coffee in Welwyn Garden City!

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The pleasures of a flower shop; other types of business are also good!

Outside the Box delivered by Red Potato for Oaklands College, Hertfordshire
Mark Rowley from the Welwyn Florist talks market research at an Outside the Box Business Bootcamp

Inspiring young people about a career as an entrepreneur, is great when done by other entrepreneurs.  Red Potato works in partnership with local entrepreneurs to equip students with the skills needed to set up in business.  At a time when some UK schools are described as stagnating by international standards, could entrepreneurship, switch students back onto education?

“Check out the area, what kind of cars are going up and down the high street, what time of day is the high street busy?” Mark Rowley from the Old Welwyn Florist was talking about his market research prior to setting up his shop.  Mark knows quite a lot about market research – business is nearly “blooming” (sorry for the pun!) for his high street florist, thanks to infectious enthusiasm, a great product range and sheer bl**dy hard work.

The future entrepreneurs
Outside the Box Business Bootcamp is delivered by Red Potato in partnership with Oaklands College

Mark is just one of several entrepreneurs from the B49 networking group.  Mark was joined by fellow business owners, Matt Howeson from 3internet and Jon Pentel from Systemtalk who came to Oaklands College in Hertfordshire, on a cold night in December so that the students could see and hear real life entrepreneurs talk about business.  The session at the student campus in Welwyn Garden City was part of the Out of the Box Business Bootcamp.

The aim of the Business Bootcamp is to equip students with all the information they need to set up and run their own business.  It’s quite a tall order, but central to the success of the sessions is hearing from local entrepreneurs about their experiences.  The initial feedback from the students was very positive – “insightful”, “inspiring” and “motivational” were the words used to describe the session.

In the longer term the success of these sessions needs to be compared to other forms of training for new entrepreneurs.   For Oaklands College, success will be measured by whether the sessions lead to more students knowing how to access the help available to them and then taking those first daunting steps as entrepreneurs.   It is not an easy path, and does not necessarily lead to fame and fortune.

Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith at Herts Chamber of Commerce

The Bishop of St Albans was the invited guest at a recent Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce meeting.   The Bishop was talking about his views on education and business.  In response to questions, he said that not everyone can be an entrepreneur; and of course he is right.  The UK performance in the (PISA) international league table for maths, science, reading and problem solving, shows that we can’t be complacent.   Making the explicit link between maths, science, reading, problem solving  and enterprise is one answer.  Entrepreneurs able to inspire young people about the importance of these competencies, when building an enterprise able to compete on the global stage, might be even better.  Otherwise it might all be down to sheer bl**dy hard work.

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Mentoring for life: Are troubled teenagers and business entrepreneurs made from the same stuff?

When it comes to mentoring it can mean very different things to different people: ranging from social befriending through to a strict focus on shared objectives mentoring.   Befriending may include things like helping someone to take small steps to overcome a fear of open spaces for example.   The warmth, encouragement and support from befriending can be crucial in helping, as sometimes statutory services are more interested in measuring the output of their work and encouraged to maintain a professional distance from “clients”.     Other benefits such as building confidence may occur following from those first steps outside the home, but in the case of befriending this isn’t the aim.

In my opinion, strict enterprise mentoring involves working with the client on agreed objectives which are stated and agreed from the start – for instance how to prepare a business for trade sale, or entry to a new market.  Any social relationship achieved is incidental to the business objectives.  SFEDI (Sector Skills body for Enterprise) says that mentor/mentee relationship should enable the mentee to “develop goals that will have a positive impact on their business enterprise”.    There is a clear focus and aim for the mentoring relationship.

In contrast to the business objectives of enterprise mentoring, community mentoring is about helping adults and children develop as individuals, so that they find their true self.  To do this the mentor needs to understand their own personal boundaries.  Without an understanding of their identity, the mentor can end up confusing the mentee about who is the client!

So having established the differences between enterprise and community mentoring, I’m now going to say in many ways they are also very similar.  For instance building a relationship based on equality, openness and trust is common to all types of mentoring.    Perhaps less obvious though is the possibility that those same troubled young people could with the right form of guidance and mentoring  go onto to set up and run the next generation of enterprises.   Even if you ignore the other reasons to get mentoring, the powerful impact of mentoring on life chances and entrepreneurialism, should be a strong motivator for business people to get mentoring.