Business Durham’s Enterprise Development Manager and project lead for Future Business Magnates Gary Chaplin reflects on the programmes highly successful journey since it's inception over 11 years ago.
"As the Future Business Magnates competition drew to a close in the last week of June, I took time to reflect on the involvement of Business Durham in the competition over the last six years. In many ways the competition has changed radically since its start in 2005. Back then it was a small group of schools clustered around Durham City that competed against one another for the coveted title of Future Business Magnates.
The competition grew out of a desire to introduce young people to the excitement of setting up a business and developing a business plan. Since then there have been many twists and turns but the essence of the competition remains. Businesses actively participate, supporting the school teams throughout the competition and, on many occasions, opening up their facilities for students to get a first taste of the world of work.
Sarah Slaven and I were asked to take over the running of FBM in 2010 and I think it is fair to say we were a little daunted at the prospect. But we managed to get 21 schools on board that year and somehow saved a little money!
We have tried to improve the competition year on year and students now participate in workshops to help them understand how to come up with ideas, design prototypes, figure out the finances and nail the legal aspects of their business. They learn the basics of marketing and apply their new knowledge to their own products.
The team members go on an amazing journey during course of the competition and they can win prizes for both themselves and their school but that is just the icing on the cake because every FBM student will gain confidence and knowledge, acquire skills and learn to work in a team to bring a project to fruition. They do all of this when they are 13 years old, never had a business studies lesson and most of them will not have even heard of a business plan.
What have we learned during the time we have been involved? That, like businesses, we must not stand still. The competition must be fresh every year, relevant to the issues we all deal with in the world of business and beyond.
Most of all it is essential that the competition is fun for all involved. So as we move into the 12th year of this much loved programme we can look forward to meeting new people involved for the first time, see teams develop new products and services and grow as they learn - one thing is for sure it will constantly change and will never be dull."