Teachers give us 10/10 for excellent work

Hi Steve and Suzanne.

I have nothing but positive feedback for you!

The children loved the Dragon’s Den activity that you set up for them… and so did the teachers 🙂

You really allowed the children to think outside of the box, developing thinking skills, communication skills and of course introducing them to the world of business.

The children who did not get to take part are now very keen to ‘ have a turn’ and so we will have to try to recreate the activity you did with the children now for the others.

Thank you again for taking time out to invest in our children. We really appreciate your hard work and dedication.

We look forward to the next time!

Kind regards.

When Spicer met the ‘Mini-preneurs’ of Luton

photoSixty Luton school children taught us a thing or two about the spirit of enterprise when they took part in our ‘Junior Dragon’s Den’ style money workshop this June.

It all began when we were invited by Ferrars Junior School to take part in their Enterprise Week by helping them with their Money Day. Keen to get involved, we immediately said yes…. and then it dawned on us.

How on Earth were we going to deliver a piece of useful financial education to inspire sixty 7-11 year olds? We couldn’t exactly go in with the latest budgeting tools and tax emptions!

Luckily the Eureka moment happened when we came up with the idea for the Dragon’s Den style event (Suzanne and I are still arguing about whose idea it actually was). Anyway, the plan was to give the kids a chance to explore their ideas for new products and businesses, including getting the money side of things right.

So, there we were, on 12th June, arriving at the school gates with our workshop prepared but no idea how this was going to pan out. All we can say is that the children we worked with that day were amazing – mind-blowing even!

We challenged them to design a new product (anything from a new chocolate bar to a mobile phone) and then got them to think about every aspects of turning it into a business. Working in teams, we helped them to look at areas like who they would sell it to, how much would it cost, where would the materials come from, how much could they make it for and how would they tell people about it. The children then presented their ideas to the ‘Dragons’, otherwise known as their own teachers from the school.

To give you an idea of their boundless creativity, here’s what they came up with:

• The Multi-chair – with add-ons like an incorporated fridge or TV
• Super Epic Rainbow Bar – a chocolate bar that changes colour and has multiple flavours
• Terrific tablet – a duel screened tablet that enables two players to play together, one on each side
• Funky star school bag – a school bag that can be customised with added pockets and design features
• Majesta trainers – trainers which, at the press of a button, can turn into everything from football boots to flat hockey shoes
• PS3445 – a new generation console with numerous other functions such as worldwide wi-fi
• Usain Boltz – aerodynamic trainers that make you run faster
• Pear Pad – similar to the IPad but shaped like a pear!
• Snack dispenser – a dispensing machine that could double up as a mini corner shop for villages
• Milky chocolate star – a star shaped chocolate bar where each arm has a different flavour.

Not only were we impressed with the clever thinking behind all these ideas, but the children also showed great understanding of how to run a business. We watched in awe as they planned areas such as their branding and marketing and quickly got to grips with the idea of weighing up costs with sales to produce profit margins. One girl even asked if we could really help her bring her ideas to market!

So the event went brilliantly – the school’s teachers were happy, the kids really enjoyed themselves and so did we. It was a morning that left us wondering if we could roll out a programme like this to other schools. Why? Well, considering the UK now has its highest level of self-employed people, improving entrepreneurial skills and financial education among children can only be a good thing for the long term success of the UK economy.

On a more personal level, this was a day’s work which we simply got so much out of. How often do you get to witness a combination of enthusiasm, creativity, passion and determination at work? We saw it in every one of these school children and that was truly energising.

They say it’s never too late to learn something. Clearly it’s never too early either. The ‘Mini-preneurs’ have taught us that!

“This networking thing will never catch on”… or will it?

Late afternoon on Thursday 22nd May, we were all set for the first Spicer client party, held at Creasey Park in Dunstable. As the Spicer duo (Steve and Suzanne to most of you), we arrived at our venue nice and early. It was 5.15 and the party was due to start at 6pm. Everything looked good – the catering was ready, we sprung up a display board and then… well, we waited.

The invitations had gone out weeks before and loads of people had said they would come but, by the time the day actually came around, a few nerves had started to creep in. What if no-one turned up after all? Would it be just us sitting in an empty room with tons of food and the odd piece of tumbleweed rolling past?

Thankfully, that didn’t happen and we didn’t have to wait long until the first of our guests arrived. Even better, one of the early comers turned up with a tray of delicious cupcakes, each one with an edible business card attached! This particular client of ours runs The Cake Shop on High Street South in Dunstable, a lovely business which is going from strength to strength. (Sorry for the blatant plug but she did bring us cakes!)

Over the next few hours, we were really pleased to see more and more of our clients, as well as some of our friends and family arrive. People came from all different walks of life (construction, IT, charity, hairdressing, legal, business advice to name a few) mostly from the surrounding Luton and Dunstable areas. Some arrived early, some late, some popped in briefly and others stayed the whole evening. In the end, we didn’t leave until well after 10.30!

So, why did we hold the party?

First of all, our accountancy company is based on a personalised approach so we genuinely wanted to get to know our clients better. Secondly, we knew that a lot of the people we were working with would benefit from meeting each other. When making some introductions, we even found that two of our clients, both from the construction industry, had been talking to each other for months on the phone but this was their first opportunity to meet in person! And, thirdly, having been to a lot of other networking events, we simply felt that we could do it better! Our event was going to bring together a lovely group of people whose paths might never usually cross and, as a family firm ourselves, we wanted to make it easily accessible to people whose lives involve more than just ‘the business’ by inviting their kids along too.

At the end of the day, we have to say it worked.

While we knew some of our clients would want to make the most of the networking opportunity, making it a family event kept things very relaxed and informal. No-one felt the pressure to give a ‘1-minute pitch’ and instead people just got to know each other. Whether they were chatting about work opportunities or their children’s school grades – who knows? Either way, it made for a great evening. We even spotted some of the kids replicating their parents in a kind of mini-network club as they headed off into a side room to get to know each other, play some pool and sneak out to swipe a cake or two!

A couple of weeks later and we’ve had lots of really good feedback with everyone saying they made some good contacts and enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the night. Our thanks go to everyone who came along and gave their support. We’ll definitely be doing this again (probably as a pre-Christmas event) so look out for your invitations.

I can’t remember who, but someone once said to us: “this networking thing will never catch on”. Well, whoever that was, let’s agree to disagree.