Ynys Mon or Ynys Monaco ?
A thought piece
Last year, I blogged about the need to nurture young entrepreneurs on Anglesey. Here’s the link if you missed the blog. I wrote about this because of the closure of Rehau in 2019 which resulted in job losses for islanders. I felt it important to point out that we should help Anglesey’s young people aspire to entrepreneurship. They could become the employer rather than employee; drive innovation; stand out in the crowd; help Anglesey’s post-Covid economy flourish.
A year later, I am returning to this subject. I want to explore in a little more detail the benefits of developing the island’s own strategy to support young, gifted entrepreneurs and what this might look like. Hitachi’s withdrawal from the Wylfa project this summer and the disastrous impact of Covid 19 on Anglesey’s tourist industry, will limit young people’s local employment opportunities. So are there alternatives routes to economic well-being ?
Let’s just define the term “entrepreneurship”. This might help clarify why I think it is such an important issue. Entrepreneurship as defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a person who makes money by starting or running a business, especially when this involves financial risk……..”. The focus is on “business” and “risk”. “Entrepreneur” is not a job. An entrepreneur takes capital; with it creates a product, attracts customers; and makes more money. An entrepreneur creates and builds a business.
The point I’m making is that if we actively nurture our talented teenage entrepreneurs, this will reap rewards for Anglesey. The next generation of entrepreneurs will create jobs; inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Entrepreneurs connect with the outside world. They are enterprising thinkers, global thinkers. They create volume. They are fearless in times of uncertainty. What’s not to like ? So why not set out a definite strategy to do this? Why not help our creative and business-minded teenagers position themselves for post-Covid success ?
Of course, there are many entrepreneurs on the island already. Many of us run small food, retail businesses which we have set up from scratch. Whilst researching young entrepreneurs, I’ve come across them on the island, too. However, what I am suggesting here is that we have a robust and explicit strategy to “grow our own” gifted young entrepreneurs. We don’t leave this to chance.
I have been fascinated with the concept of entrepreneurship for years. Working most of my life in the public sector, I received my salary every month, however hard I worked (or didn’t). Brick in the wall ? Maybe I am being a little unfair to all of us public sector people. What fascinated me about entrepreneurs is that they have a germ of an idea, they build a product, a business and sell their product ……. Before they earn their money. It’s tough. Having set up businesses in the last ten years, I can only admire the tenacity, conviction, determination, resilience, courage of these people. They are self-starters. They don’t give up. Great life skills which will help see us through the Covid era.
Is this happening already ? Yes, there are certainly some related activities in place. An element of the Welsh Baccalaureate promotes entrepreneurship and employability skills. Now, as a businessperson and employer, I have been involved with an Anglesey school in the delivery of enterprise activities, including a “dragons den” style workshop. Occupying limited curriculum time, this is a starting point only, however. I have read about the Santander Enterprise Accelerator project at Bangor University. Could this be replicated to support teenage entrepreneurs? Big Ideas Wales holds “Bootcamp to Business” weekends. Would an Anglesey event help our teenagers become game-changers in a rapidly changing world ? These weekends could be “virtual”. The council’s plan includes an initiative to maximise the opportunities available to young people. The initiative is providing opportunities for up to 10 people 16 years old and over to have up to 12 weeks of paid work experience with the Council over the summer. Whilst this will no doubt develop work skills in young people, it’s not what I am talking about here.
So what can we do ? Essentially, appoint an Entrepreneurship Champion to lead the way; identify which of our young people have the potential and desire to be entrepreneurial; construct a virtual (or real) young entrepreneurs’ academy or hub to bring like-minded young people together; recruit staff with an entrepreneurial track record to deliver high quality advice and support; build on what is working well already; hold industry panel events; host guest speakers; meet ups; pitch nights; recognise and reward young (and older !) entrepreneurs; showcase their achievements; increase and publicise the narrative; foster partnerships and peer support; create a vibrant community.
If our able young entrepreneurs are going to help the island achieve economic well-being in this new “normal”, we have a duty to do all we can to support them. They need to be adaptable, open-minded bar-raisers. Competitive, innovative and efficient. Agile thinkers and innovative.
With them, we can form a winning team.
Over to you now, Anglesey !
If you have enjoyed reading this, then please share ! Thank you, Margaret
Former Director of 14-19 Education and Inspector for Gifted and Talented for a large rural county council in the north of England
With her husband, Margaret has set up and run three businesses since 2010, including Bryn Celyn Farm Shop.