School enterprise days
All you need to know about running an enterprise day for primary or secondary students
All you need to know about running an enterprise day for primary or secondary students
Enterprise days are a fun and effective way to provide children with an insight into entrepreneurship and the way businesses work. These days are also engaging and rewarding for children with different levels of academic ability and there are lots of life lessons to be learned.
On this page you’ll find the purpose of enterprise days, what to look for in resources, a structure for your enterprise day along with some tips and pitfalls to avoid.
An enterprise day is typically a full year group event where students are off timetable and can explore the world of business. The day usually culminates in groups presenting their business ideas, which is great fun, and there are many personal development opportunities on offer.
The primary purpose of the day is to give kids a better understanding of enterprise; how to come up with a business idea, develop a business plan and present their idea to a group. For many children, this will be a brand new experience and potentially the first time they’ve had any exposure to this kind of activity.
There are many other benefits for the students participating. To this end, the purpose of the day is to provide a fun and memorable experience that benefits them for years to come. Specifically, kids can gain skills and experience in;
They’ll also have the opportunity to exercise their ideas muscle, their creativity and ingenuity.
You have two main options when it comes to running an enterprise day. The first is to bring in a third-party provider to run an enterprise day for you. The benefit of this is that these companies are well versed in running these days and therefore know the structure and have all the required resources. The downsides of this option are cost; these enterprise days are usually fairly expensive, and the fact that the individuals running the day don’t know the environment or the students. Of course, having a different face explaining the tasks could be a refreshing change for the kids.
The other option is to organise the day yourself using resources to help you with the structure and to ensure students get the most out of the experience. The benefit is that the costs are far lower and you can tailor the day to the exact needs of your students. You could also enlist the help of older students to help with the running and organisation.
Naturally, this option requires more work and planning on your part. If it’s the first time running an enterprise day, keeping to time can be tricky, as well as ensuring each group is making enough progress to have something to show at the end.
You have several options for what the ‘deliverable’ of the enterprise day is. We think the two best options are:
This is where the finale of the day is pitching the business ideas to the rest of the year group. The focus of the pitch is to persuade other children to “invest” (vote!) in their idea. This means that the pitch must be well structured and presented, hopefully with a compelling offer to investors.
The focus of the day is on making a prototype of a product the students want their business to sell. Whilst there will still be a pitching element, it may be more focused on explaining their product and then demonstrating what the product does (if it works!). Groups’ score may be weighted more towards how good their prototype is.
With both of these options, there’s still a requirement to come up with a viable business idea; something that is innovative, solves a problem and, most importantly, is something people will be willing to pay for!
There are several components that can be included in the presentation and scoring:
Each one of these components could be scored or make up a larger or smaller part of the day. For example, there could be a marketing task to make a poster or Facebook advert that all or part of the group can design. This can be presented as part of their pitch.
The first thing to do is explain the structure and objective of the day to students. Ideally, this is done before the actual enterprise day so they know what to expect. The main thing they need to understand is what they’re working towards; a pitch at the end of the day, explaining their idea, why it’s a viable business and presenting a prototype or a marketing poster or both! They’ll need to know who they’re pitching to (a panel of dragons, for example) and how long their pitch should be.
Once they’re aware of the goals, split students into groups. Depending on what the deliverables are, there may be several different tasks to accomplish. This means groups can be relatively large because they’ll be split into smaller sub groups; one working on the prototype, one working on the marketing material, for example. This means groups of up to 8 to 10 can work well.
For a day where everyone is focused on the same tasks together, groups of 4 or 6 will work better, but remember there will be more pitches at the end.
Ideation (30 minutes)
The first thing the group needs to decide is what their business is. This includes what problem it solves and for whom. The group needs to be united in their idea but it may require a vote if there are two or three viable ideas.
Even though this feels like it’s the most important part of the day, it really isn’t. A really bad idea (if there even is a bad idea!), can still be made interesting, exciting and persuasive given the right thought and a strong pitch. What is important is to not spend too much time on this stage because it eats into the time available to actually make the idea work.
Role selection (10-15 minutes)
This stage isn’t always needed, especially for small groups, but sometimes it’s useful to have someone take the role of ‘director’ or ‘CEO’. The main benefit of having a CEO for the group is that decisions can be made more easily. Having a single leader avoids costly deadlocks. Students chosen to be directors should be able to communicate effectively and be confident enough to make decisions. It’s also a perfect way to develop these skills in children less familiar with leadership roles.
Other roles might include a researcher, a pitch writer, head of marketing and a designer to create the company logo, brand and marketing material. Each of these roles could be two or even three people. If students are going to create prototypes, there will need to be a production team too!
This also shouldn’t take too long, but it’s really important that kids are happy with their roles. If it’s something they don’t like or understand, they’re not going to be motivated for the day. You might also want to give kids flexibility to swap roles with someone else if they realise it’s not for them.
Business planning (30-45 minutes)
This stage also requires the full group. It’s an extension of the ideation phase with groups digging deeper into the key elements of the business. This includes better defining the product or service offering and the target audience. This is all crucial before designing a product, creating marketing material or deciding the contents of the pitch.
This is the most important part of the day and it’s where the group dynamics can make or break the team. It’s also the stage where the next phase of the day is planned with the group members’ roles in mind.
If there’s time, the group should begin working on bringing their business to life (the next section of the day). This will give them more time to make a great pitch, product or poster!
Break for lunch
The first half of the day should have set up the groups for an afternoon of productivity and bringing their idea to life. They should be well on their way to developing the marketing material, developing their pitches and creating their prototypes.
Bringing the business to life (60 minutes – more if there’s time before lunch!)
Depending on the focus of the day or how each group has decided to run their project, the making stage of the day involves bringing everything to life. Groups should be made aware of when they’ll have to finish and present their ideas.
This part of the day is also when sub groups will split away to focus on their tasks, specifically:
Presentation planning (15 minutes)
Before the pitch or presentation of ideas, the group must decide who is presenting and how each component of their work is shown to the audience. There should be at least 15 minutes before the presentations begin to ensure each group and each member is comfortable with their role in the presentation.
Better prepared presentations are far more engaging for everyone else in the room, so it’s worthwhile giving them time to prepare and adding your input if you feel they’re going off track.
Presenting their ideas (10-15 minutes for each group depending on numbers)
This is the most fun part of the day! One at a time, each group presents their idea to the rest of the year group. There might also be a panel of judges or “dragons” that the talk should be directed towards.
Presentations should last around 5-10 minutes and there should be time for at least one or two questions, either from their peers or the panel. There could also be a vote at the end to see which idea is the most popular but this could be different to the idea the panel believe is best.
If you have lots of groups, you’ll need to keep to time or break the presentations into two groups, pitching to two different panels at the same time.
Keep to schedule! – as you’ll have seen from the rough outline of the day, things can get squeezed. Think about it: most businesses take months of planning and we’re asking students to come up with an idea and pitch it within a school day. This means we need to keep things moving.
In order to make the day run smoother, there are a few things you can do:
Get admin sorted before – in assembly or registration time, students should be made aware of the enterprise day, what it’s all about and what the objectives of the day are. It’s recommended that you group students before the day to remove that job on the day. You could also give them opportunities to come up with possible ideas for their business in the week before so they don’t have to come up with something on the spot. Their homework could be to think of an idea to bring to the group on the enterprise day.
Give context – enterprise days work much better when there are elements of enterprise education already dotted around the curriculum. This means that the day doesn’t come completely out of context for students. Even having just a single additional session before the enterprise day will help them understand more about what they’re doing and why.
Have contingency plans – for the weather, if children are absent or if resources run low. It sounds basic, but if it’s the first time you’re running an enterprise day, you need to be prepared if things don’t go exactly to plan.
Group children of mixed abilities and personalities – enterprise education is very different to a traditional academic subject. A broad range of intelligence, skills and personalities can be successful in business. There will also be a lot of group dynamics at play and teamwork will be a major factor in which team does well.
Don’t apply a regular mark scheme – to the point above, enterprise can’t be marked by a normal mark scheme. Credit must be given for originality, ambition, viability, presentation and the creative work produced. It’s very much an art and a science.
Ensure teachers are bought in – it would be very easy to dismiss an enterprise day as a day off; something that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The problem is that kids pick up on that. If they don’t believe their teachers care, they’ll care less too.
The truth is that enterprise days give students a new experience. There’s a good chance they’ll learn more practical skills in that single day than in a year of academic studies.
There’s certainly no right or wrong way to run an enterprise day. The main thing is that students enjoy the experience and develop some life skills. These events might just be the thing that sparks a child’s imagination or ambition and gives them confidence to try something new.
If you have any ideas or feedback for us, especially if you’ve used any of these tips, we’d love to hear from you.