Inspiring Enterprise is a project aiming to boost business opportunities for those not in work. At Winchester, the Inspiring Enterprise project supports students and graduates wishing to explore how to become self-employed or start a social enterprise at the end of their academic studies.
The University of Winchester is a delivery partner of the Inspiring Enterprise Programme – a 2-year, £1.45million funded project from the National Lottery, via the Big Lottery Fund, and the European Social Fund.
It offers students and graduates support and resources to develop the ideas, confidence and skills required to become their own boss. The free tailored support includes: ‘Is it for me?’ session, workshops on topics ranging from marketing to tax, a personal business mentor, networking events, and helpful tools and resources. Past participants of the project now run their own businesses full-time!
Current Year 2 Winchester Business student, ‘buzzing studentpreneur’, and Inspiring Enterprise participant, Phoebe Grubb, says:
“The Inspiring Enterprise course is probably the most real life thing you can get involved with while you’re at the University of Winchester. There are so many clubs, societies and courses that you hear about, but seriously you will miss out if you don’t visit this one! It’s amazing; it’s free and stuffed full of practical info about businesses!
I have just finished this 12 week course, where on Thursday nights I got to learn all things social media, business entities, search engines, websites, accounting, analytics and more, from people who actually live it every day in their own business. My knowledge and real understanding of businesses has massively improved. Alongside it I even started a cheeky Instagram page which is now about to hit 1,000 followers!!
The best thing about Inspiring Enterprise, besides the knowledge I gained, is the people you meet and connect with (oh and free pizza, plus did I mention that they pay for your travel?!). It is super motivating being around entrepreneurs and business owners. I also have a personal business mentor as part of the project; the best 1:1 I’ve probably ever had – way better than any pathfinder or career thing you did in Year 11!
If you have a business idea, thought of working for yourself, want to get creative with your own ways to make money, or simply want to learn about how businesses work, then join us at Inspiring Enterprise.”
And Winchester University and Inspiring Enterprise programme graduate, Rosie said: “I am currently Vice-President, Education, at Winchester Student Union, but before that I was a student at the University of Winchester. I packed my bags, and moved from South Wales to Winchester to study English Literature and Drama.
Whilst in my third year, I co-created a theatre company called StormCloud Arts & Theatre. My creative partner and I enjoyed running the company together and working in the arts, so we decided that we wanted to take this further; we wanted make a living off of this. We both had experience in the Arts and in running workshops, but we had no idea how to make this a profession. Then we joined Inspiring Enterprise!
After signing up, Inspiring Enterprise offered free mentoring, workshops, and networking events, aimed at helping those who want to start their own businesses. The networking events put us in contact with lots of other local businesses and like-minded people. Our mentoring sessions were personalised to what we wanted to achieve in the future. The mentoring partnership helped us immensely, forming some shape to our company. We were also introduced to another contact with experience in the theatre industry, providing advice on industry connections.
We were also offered a multitude of free classes to attend! Ranging from understanding crowdfunding, to Search Engine Optimisation (something I had no clue about before, but have learnt is actually vital for modern day businesses)! My favourite workshop was about Marketing and Social Media. This workshop opened my eyes to the importance of social media in promoting businesses, and how to correctly market to the groups you are aiming for.
As someone whose degree was in books, history, and performance, I was so scared to take up running my own company. However, Inspiring Enterprise helped ground me, and gave myself and my partner all of the necessary information to successfully run a modern day business. My confidence skyrocketed after attending networking events, and I learnt so much from the scheme.
Since attending Inspiring Enterprise and graduating, a lot has happened! I was elected Vice-President, Education, by the student body at Winchester Student Union. This job involves a lot of campaigning and networking, skills that I have learnt and refined at IE. Outside of full time work, StormCloud Arts & Theatre is still going strong, even better thanks to IE. We just did a piece of work shown at Scratch Shakespeare at the Theatre Royal Winchester in March. We had to pitch the idea to the theatre, something that the networking sessions really helped us with. StormCloud Arts & Theatre are also working with many Winchester creatives to create a Featured series online, and will be running workshops for all ages come the summer. Our presence online is incredibly strong and we have quite a large following now, all thanks to the skills we learnt in the Social Media sessions. Without Inspiring Enterprise, none of this would have happened; we would not have had the knowledge and the confidence to start our own company. We’ve still got a long way to go in making this company profitable, but we know we can do it, all thanks to Inspiring Enterprise.”
Want to get involved and find out how Inspiring Enterprise can support you? Coordinating the project at the University are Megan Saunders and Lindsey Birtwhistle. They would love to hear from you if are considering working for yourself either during your studies or after graduation. Get in touch today: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01962 827435.