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Date: 29/09/2016

Enthusiasm for entrepreneurship comes early to some, and the chance to start your own business at school, especially with the support and help of a mentor, is invaluable. Young Enterprise gives teenagers that chance, with the help and support of local businesses such as law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Jack Powell and Marc Lazarus, who work in the firm’s Hereford office, are two of the mentors who support groups of students in their first steps towards business success. Working with groups at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford last year, they helped them to develop their business ideas, worked through practical steps with them and supported them through the whole process.
Jack said: “I would really recommend mentoring a Young Enterprise group – I remember it from when I was at school, and although I wasn’t involved then, I was always interested in the business side of things.
“We worked with the group through the school year, and helped them to work through their business ideas and how those were put into practice. For instance, we helped them to resolve how they were going to raise their initial capital; they explored the idea of a quiz in college and although they ran into some difficulties, they eventually made the money needed to set up the business.”
Jack and his colleague Marc spent one session a week with the students, and encouraged them to devote some of their time outside college on their business too – this proved more of a challenge. Jack said: “It was sometimes hard when their enthusiasm flagged a bit, but we did encourage them to keep working on the business in between sessions, to make it an extra-curricular activity too.”
But the sense of achievement made the effort worth it – he said: “Seeing them progress is great – you watch them make their own mistakes and then guide them forwards; that was really rewarding.”
For Marc, he was surprised that mentoring offered him both the chance to contribute and the reward of instant results – he said: “You see the students change and progress week by week; it is great to see them take control of their own destiny and face obstacles with such cheerfulness.
“Sometimes their enthusiasm failed, mainly when there was something really tedious that needed doing, but no-one wants to do the dull stuff in any business, so it was a good reflection of real life.”
All kinds of issues arose during the process – personnel or management problems, finance, logistics; many of the difficulties which businesses have to tackle every day. Marc said: “We had one team member who didn’t really want to buy shares in their own company – we had to ask them all what they felt that said about their own business idea. These are tough situations, but our job was to help and support them, not to tell them what to do – they came to their own resolution.”
For more information on how to become a mentor and support a Young Enterprise group in the Three Counties, contact Grace Perks on 07867001849 or at grace.perks@y-e.org.uk