I love working with young people. Energetic and enthusiastic about life and work, and confident they can tackle anything those things can throw at them, young people have, for the most part, yet to have experienced the knockbacks and failures in business that builds that determination and resilience to keep pushing forward. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be privy to those early days in their development.

For any young person looking for support on their journey into enterprise there is much to tap into. Beginning at school with careers advice available from the faculty and visiting entrepreneurs, to competitions run by universities, here are just some of the programmes I have had the pleasure to be involved in.

Supporting younger students to commence enterprise after A-Levels

I am the volunteer ‘Enterprise Adviser’ for Didcot Girls School and Didcot 6th form. Since 2015, when I was the first to be appointed by OxLEP, my role has been to help link the school to local businesses to support their careers programme and develop the employability skills of their students.

The ‘Enterprise Adviser’ programme and I have a number of initiatives that we facilitate at the schools, across all year groups, but I am especially proud of the 6th Form mentoring programme that we launched in 2016.

There are 50 schools and colleges across Oxfordshire in the Adviser Network and 23 schools that form the Careers Hub. Your school’s careers adviser is always the best place to direct your first enquiries about enterprise.

FUEL, at Oxford Brookes University

Successful applicants to this award begin with a nine-week programme of sessions designed to scale up their current businesses. By the end of the programme the students get a clear picture of their business, along with the skills to equip them in presenting and pitching, with the chance to win a share of £30,000 to grow their business.

I am proud to be the facilitator of this programme, sponsored by Santander universities programme, and see some very deserving students go on to take the recognition their hard work deserves.

Oxford Brookes also runs Spark, Catalyst and Mentoring & Advice Clinic programmes for young people to learn from and compete in.

People like Duray Pretorius, CRO of Viaduct Gen, SEO consultancy. Duray’s advice to fellow young people in enterprise is this:

‘Start. Start quickly and violently. You will figure out the precise next steps later. Just get started. Do not hesitate. Also, do not neglect your mental health. The only way to do amazing things is to feel amazing in yourself.’

Read about FUEL on the Brookes website.

Venturefest Oxford brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors

I was delighted to be made Chair of this celebration of business in our county for the 21st year of its run, in 2019.

“Our programme highlights Oxfordshire’s ability to respond to the National Industrial Strategy and specifically its four Grand Challenges. Working with partners, the programme is uniquely positioned to showcase our Science & Technology innovation ecosystem.” Mike Foster at Venturefest 2019 welcome

Once again associated with Oxford Brookes University, one of the main sponsors, I got to see some of the students returning as fully fledged business owners.

By this stage in their journey the young entrepreneurs have experienced more about the trials of starting up in business and are ready to pitch to the public in an exhibition environment.

Confidence

By sharing information on the initiatives and programmes that I have personal insight into, I hope to encourage young people to experience as much as possible in their early days of business. Through experience and the acquired understanding, you can boost your confidence and build the resilience needed to achieve your goals.

If you need to talk to someone, I offer a free hour of mentoring that can often be enough to put you back on track, and if you like to read, I have four business e-books to download from my website, including the Business Start-Up Guide and 21 Tips for Entrepreneurial Success. I wish you the best of luck on your enterprising journey.

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