Reflective essay

The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look. The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunities – Michael Gerber, author, entrepreneur

Goal

I believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur [1] but not everyone will success.
I chose to come to Kingston University because it offered me “entrepreneurship” aspect of business studies. Entrepreneur is what I have always wanted to be, and I hoped this year I would somehow learn something valuable about it so I can implement into my future career.

First impression

Since the beginning, this class was very different to me, and also where I came from. I always had my background in business, business and business and know absolutely nothing in design, creative and art. Apparently, this class is for people who mostly have background in art and creative field that I never had any chance to meet with this profession before in my life. From the first day that I met them, I felt that people in the class were totally different than me, and I felt this class would be very unique and memorable.

Obviously, this class blew me away with all the “in class activities” that I rarely had before. In my course, it usually focuses on theories and case studies as the way to study.

Fun-learning experiences that we had were really grateful. The speed dating, making the shoes, the lift and the toilet scene were unforgettable and unique.

The most memorable activity was the class that all of us had a chance to teach the rest of the class and show what we are passionate about.

I got a chance to show the success of Pet Rock [2]. It is one of the most marketing achievements of all time. The creator of the company was the creative director and he showed that the success was not just the “luck”. The classmates seemed to be interested in it which I was very happy.

I also showed the youtube video called “awareness test” [3] which led to remind you on how you should focus on important things. However, when you are focusing too much on the main objective, you occasionally lose the ability to see the environment. This example could lead to failure in business, or anything. This particular video clip has a meaning that I would like everyone to see because during our business project, we may sometimes concentrate too much on one idea or one concept that could ruin other possible opportunities. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone on this matter. For our business, we had always concern on this issue. We always ask ourselves whether what we are doing is the best choice and seeking for new opportunity. At first, we started to sell directly to end consumers but we saw the opportunity to sell in bulk to some distributors so we moved our focus and we glad we did it.

Young Enterprise project.

I would say this business project is one of the highlights of this year. I have done many business plans in my bachelor’s degree and also in the other entrepreneurship module, but I never had a chance to practically start up the real business. Even though it seemed quite tough in the beginning and I had to push myself out of my comfort zone, it reminded me the quote from my Operation Management professor, Dr.Alex Hill [4], that said “If you feel uncomfortable, you are learning”. This quote has been one of my favourites and it had encouraged me to do new things, meeting new people to learn more from the limited time I have here.

At the beginning of the course, we had to form the team for the whole year. As we, MAIBE students were only 7 people in the class, it was quite difficult to get to know other people well in such short period of time. I had a problem to find the group because on the week that everyone was forming the group, I was ill and did not go to class. After that I found out that all my colleagues already formed the group up, so I was the only person left alone. A week later, I decided that I would do this project by myself because I had talked to many groups and I was not interested in their business ideas. David decided afterward that he wanted to leave his group and be my partner for this project so we formed a 2 person group which was small and we knew there would be a lot of work waiting for us. We spent some time to brainstorm the ideas that we had to discuss and to come up the most feasible idea of all.

In the end, we decided to use my teammate personal interest that to introduce the sport called Jianzi [5], which is very popular in China, Vietnam and has already been introduced to many countries in Europe but not yet into the UK. The professional leagues and cups are held all over the world, and it is becoming more popular as it is very easy to play and anyone can play it quite easily. He would like to use this opportunity to get the idea running so I agreed to help him with this idea.

We came up the brand of the product as “UKick”. They will be ordered from China and shipped to the UK in large order. The advantage of our business is it is new to the market and the price is relatively low comparing to other type of outdoor games. Therefore we believed that it would be successful in the UK if we do the right marketing and choose the right target group.

However, we had so much coursework during the first semester, we did not pay much attention to the business. Even though we knew what we were going to sell but we did not contact manufacturer to order the product until January. This mismanagement led to very delay shipment and finally we could not get the product on time for the first trade fair. One major mistake that we did not know that it was Chinese New Year at the time we needed to order to get the bulk shipped on time for trade fair. Therefore we had to order the smaller batch instead from the local seller that cost much more, but could get the products on time for trade fair. Procrastination cost us very brutal opportunity cost that we wished we could turn back time and redo it. Instead of getting the cost of product about 50-70p, we had to pay more than double for them. Therefore we learned that bad planning can lead to crucial failure of the business and we would do it more efficiently in the future.

1st Trade fair = market testing

We used the opportunity at the trade fair to meet our potential customers during the trade fair to test market and gain feedback. Apparently, people liked it and said it had potential in the UK but would be very difficult to interpret the market because we had no marketing budget and funds to reach such high exposure required because the market has no knowledge about the product and we have to educate them well. We then realised that we would need to search for partners and investors to leverage their expertise and gain capital for our business.

There were a lot people who show their interest in our product and gave valuable suggestion to us. One of them was Sally, a tennis coach at the academy that she said UKick could possible replace traditional warm up for young children and make it more enjoyable for them.

After the trade fair, we had gained a lot of feedback from potential customers and my teammate arranged meetings with potential investors from outside. The second semester was not as tense as the first semester so we had more free time to focus on the project but our motivation was gone. It was difficult to retain the momentum and our teamwork was a bit broken at that time because of the tensity of workload. However, we managed to pass that period thoroughly soon after.

Before the end of the course we got a chance to pitch the idea to judges and receive feedback from them. We had created a demo video commercial[6] for UKick to show the character and basic idea of it. We also developed it using the comments from our classmates and professor to improve it again before the finalised version.

The pitch went well and we were very happy about what we have surpassed and learned. Now I will stop my involvement and let David continue his passion and hopefully be success in his career.

Afterwords

This is a great experience getting to work with people from different background before I go to the actual working reality. This class rang a bell for me to realize that I need to be careful more in order to stay in the working environment happily and not to be taken advantage of.

Finally, I believe that this class will definitely contribute and improve my success for my future goal as an entrepreneur. To be a successful entrepreneur, I will have to contact a lot of people and step out of my comfort zone that I had an opportunity to do during this year by contacting suppliers and people about the business. I also learned that time management is crucial to business that it can highly effect everything including profitability that is the most important aspect for small business to survive.

After my graduation, I am looking forward to go back to my home country, Thailand and start looking for a job in retail trading, import-export, food and consumers’ products company while looking for opportunity to start my own business successfully which is my ultimate goal in life. Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs!

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell

References:

[1] http://www.cheaprevolution.com/the_cheap_revolution/2007/11/top-20-entrepre.html

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6MhAwQ64c0

[3] http://www.petsdo.com/blog/pet-rock-made-man-multi-millionaire-6-months-lives

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4

[5] http://business.kingston.ac.uk/staff/dr-alex-hill

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jianzi

[7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A59O-m4n61Q

[8] http://about.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/isbn=9780688170363/search=High%20Five!%20Magic%20Working%20Together/st=product/sv=title&mode=about_humanresources&

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Maxwell

[10] http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs.html

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Trade Fair

Highlight at the trade fair were;

We customised Ukick using spray paint by ourselves. It was fun!

A lot of people were interseted in our product.

Sally(tennis coach) suggested that it could work at tennis academy.

We actually sold many of them!