PART A: Description of work related experience
At the time of the subsistence of the Make an Impact Week, our course instructor required me from a group alongside my colleagues with a view to meeting the requirement of the coursework in executing a task. We were charged with the responsibility of raising a total of $ 200 to help fund the activities of the Environmental Club in the school. Alongside my colleagues, we formed a group of five persons so that we could execute the task as a group as required of the coursework. We met on a record three times to discuss and pitch our idea of raising the necessary cash where we mooted several business ideas.
During the deliberations, an issue as to the sourcing of the initial seed capital to launch the venture came in issue. We agreed that we would pitch our business idea to our course instructor who would then loan us some initial capital. We consequently agreed on the preparation of some cakes which we would then sell to both students and staff at the campus as a way of raising cash. We then made our proposal of the business idea to our course instructor who subsequently loaned us $40 for the start of the venture. Our target for the business was to raise $ 200 to facilitate in the activities of the Environmental Club and as such, all accruing profit from the venture would be channeled towards this cause.
Our task as a group of five was varied and diverse. It fell upon us to discuss and come up with the name of the venture as well as formulating a business strategy which would enable us to meet the targets that we had set for ourselves. In addition, there was need for as a group to identify the selling points, whether the cakes would be sourced or produced as well as the method of facilitation in the selling.
After three consultative meetings, we finally reached a consensus among ourselves where we agreed that we would source the cakes form a nearby cake manufacturing bakery instead of preparing ours. We found that sourcing the cakes would be more cost effective as it would cut on the expenses that would otherwise be incurred in preparing the cakes. Further, this was a better move since we needed the time for ours studies and the preparation of the cakes would invariably have eaten into our study time. We thereby agreed to sell the cakes at various points in the school compound during break times or when we were not in lectures. To this end, we would do the selling in turns with every member in the group having his day for selling with the exception of myself who was chosen as the group leader and overseer.
My main role was to ensure the proper and timely procuring of the cakes, the proper packaging and ensuring standards were met. More so, I was in charge of the finances as I usually did an audit at the end of the day to ensure that all sales were accounted for. Further, we decided to package the cakes in special packets that we designed on our own so as to attract more buyers. We settled on the name “Delicacy Cookies” as the name of the venture and decided on a markup of 55% of the cost of the cakes. It is however notable that the packaging and the design of the new packets added to the variable costs incurred in the selling of the cakes. All the initial seed capital of $40 loaned to use by our course instructor was used in this venture and we set three sheds around the school compound where we placed a table and out our cakes on top of it. The selling under the sheds was done on a daily basis break times and the evenings of the Make an Impact Week on an alternating basis on the part of the group members.
The upshot of the endeavor is that we were able to sell a total of 260 pieces of cakes which translated to profits of $310 easily surpassing put target profits of $200. We may as well state that our business venture as a group excelled. More so, we were able to meet the requirements of our course objective and more importantly demonstrate great synergy in our execution of the task collectively. We can therefore draw an inspiration from the fact that we were able to excel working as a group which we formed randomly and not in any discriminate manner. Indeed, my group had only one close friend with the other three being colleagues in class with whom we never associated closely. Nonetheless, we took notice that our stocks sold out within the first three days and we had to wait till the evening of the day to replenish the stocks by placing an order for more cakes. Without doubt, this weighed badly on our profit making ability as the lost time meant a loss of sales since students and staff continued to ask for the cakes throughout this period.
Consequently, if I were to repeat the business activity all over again, we would be keener on the stock levels to ensure that we replenish when the stocks go low instead of waiting or the stocks to run out. It is also clear that the stocks of the cakes ran out within the first three days of which we had projected would raise the required amount forcing us to place more orders. As such, we would consider the feasibility of raising the selling price of each cake from the trading price of $1.20 per cake to a possible $1.50 so as to generate higher returns considering the high demand for the cakes. Further, we would also consider asking for a purchase discounts from our supplier so as to improve our profitability. Though most of the students were aware of our activity, it is notable that our venture was quite unpopular with some of the staff members as they did not know of our activity. As such, we would also consider taking the cakes to the staff offices so as to increase our sales.
EVIDENCE OF SKILLS (B)
Teamwork/Managing and Leading People
We worked effectively as a team enabling us to meet our targets as we had planned. My colleagues identified and appointed me as the group leader which points to my ability to mobilize and organize them into executing a task. As the group leader, I was involved in the procuring of the cakes, assigning duties of selling the cakes and other logistical measures for the group as well as accounting for the sales. As colleagues, we did not experience several conflicts though we had initial disagreements over the business venture to engage in. Other colleagues had proposed the selling of fruits while other shad mooted the idea of using proformas to raise cash in aid of the program.
I was specifically involved in the assignment of duties of selling the cakes among the group members. As is usually and normally the case in a group of diverse individuals, we had one member in our group who was specifically shy and an introvert. She was particularly weak at engaging people as she preferred staying indoors and rarely talked to many people. Nonetheless, we had all agreed that all of the group members would have their day in selling the cakes. It therefore fell on my shoulders to inspire and motivate this individual into agreeing to sell the cakes.
In particular, I called the shy individual in our group a day before her duty at work came. We talked about the need and importance of having good interpersonal skills more so in business. Further, e also conducted mock selling of exercise books among the other students at campus as a preparation for the oncoming activity. Interestingly, she was receptive to the idea with the students who knew her as laid back suddenly asking her several questions and responding warmly to her newly found state. As a result of this, she developed the confidence to approach people and talk to them into buying the products that we had as a group. Indeed, this newly earned confidence and interactional skill was at play the following day when her duty to sell the cakes came.
Partly owing to her soft spoken nature and the usual cool mien, students in particular find it irresistible talking to her and consequently buying from her. On the particular day, I stood alongside her in the whole exercise with the aim of assisting in case she was unable to sell or she crumbled under the pressure and attention. Surprisingly, she was able to execute the task and even exceeded the other group member’s sales that were more comfortable with people. Her registered sales for the day amounted to $90 as opposed to an average sale of $60 that we usually registered on a daily basis. I felt proud for having been able to inspire, motivate and manage a team of diverse individuals into executing a task. In particular, I was able to inspire and motivate the shy group member in our group and as a result, developed her confidence and social skills.
The fact that we worked and gelled as a team even with individuals of diverse personalities, attests to the fact that a strong team spirit is essential for a great performance in business as it tends to create synergy. This synergy makes use of the individual specialized skills of every individual with improved results, a feat that would never be achieved were a single individual to execute the task alone. I am also of the view that giving a personal space to everyone to develop is a key function even as a manager as every individual has their own unique capabilities. Further, this unique potential that lies within, needs to be stimulated by way of giving a task and egging a particular individual on, into performing a task. Retrospectively, I feel that I might have been too accommodative of divergent views even those that seemed far-fetched which led to our having an unnecessary long debate over simple issues.
Though it is necessary to provide an opportunity for others to offer their views and criticism of a venture, it is always god to put an end to superfluous banter that may not aid in the resolution of an issue. Particularly, we spent quite a long time in arriving at a conclusion of the product we would be selling as a result of allowing non-entities to arise in the debate. Were I to get another chance in MAI, I would be more assertive and take the lead as a group leader whilst accommodating criticism and divergent views. It is simply a case of striking a balance to ensure that matters are resolved amicably and expeditiously well knowing the fact that it is impossible to impress everyone.
Innovation or commercial acumen
As already hinted, during the MAI project, I was able to demonstrate creativity in the packaging of the cakes which we subsequently sold to the students and staff. After we deliberated on the measures that we would take as a group so as to endear the products to our customers, I proposed that we could get a decent packaging that was appealing to the eye. At the end of the deliberations, my proposal was unanimously adopted by the group as the best strategy that would attract the customers to buying our products. And true to the feeling of the group, the strategy worked as people bought the cakes owing to its beautiful packaging. In fact, the customers made comments to the effect that the color of the packaging had attracted them and induced them into buying the cakes. I was well aware that a good presentation and packaging of the products would contribute to more sales.
The task that I engaged in this quest was to design a package that would be both appealing and enticing to the eyes of the customers. I also advocated for cakes that had a pear like shape unlike those of other shapes. More so, we ordered for cakes that had different flavors and various colors that would also serve as an impetus for the purchasing. In addition, I was also mindful of the need to produce and avail these cakes in a reasonably fast manner to ensure that the venture would be profitable given the short period within which we were supposed to achieve our objectives by making the sales. Much as we did this packaging, it needs to be noted that I desired to have a more expensive a higher quality design for the cakes as well as more expensive packing materials and ribbons. As such, I acknowledge the fact that financial constraints limited the intended design and packaging of the cakes that we were to sell and this partly compromised the quality of the products that we sold which could have decreased the profitability for the venture.
Since I was the group leader, I had the onus of ensuring that the products of sale were well packaged and in good condition at all times. To state in other words, I did all the packaging of the cakes into the design that I had proposed. At first, I thought that the same procedure would be an easy task. It did not turn out this way. Ordinarily, I am usually not good at arranging tasks and packaging which is considered more of a feminine task. Nonetheless, I was able to arrive at an arrangement that worked well for the products as well as good packaging mode that was attractive to both students and staff.
Undoubtedly, I was quite happy at the design and the overall success of the venture made possible by the good packaging of the products. Indeed, the high demand that was the occasion during the selling period was a testament to the fact that the packaging and the design was successful and enterprising.
Flexibility and Adaptation
During the sales, one of the customers asked whether there was a beverage which was being offered alongside the cakes in the event that one decided to take their snack on the spot. Clearly, we had not envisaged such an occurrence and had also lost sight of the fact that some of the people would prefer to take the cake alongside a drink. Without doubt, the selling of the cakes alongside some beverage like juice would have greatly added to the revenues without undergoing any additional expenses.
When the matter was reported by the group member who was selling on the day, I immediately placed an order for some bottle of juice for the following days. Interestingly, the cue was adopted by other customers as they started buying the cakes alongside the juices thus enabling us to make extra revenues and also enables us to meet the targets that we had made.
As cited, I placed an order for the bottle of juice to supplement the sale of the cakes and this had a major boost in the sales and the revenues that were made. In fact, some of the times and owing to the hot weather during the exercise, some of the people chose to buy the bottles of juice alongside the cakes. It would thus appear that though the main task as a group was selling cakes in order to raise the required funds, an otherwise side business emerged as another good way of raising revenue which was only possible owing to our flexibility and ability to adapt to meet the demands, wishes and desires of the customer.
As the old adage goes, in business customer is king. following a concern raised by one of the customers on the need of having a drink to sell alongside the main product viz the cakes, we were flexible enough and as such we made use of the funds we had made after selling the cakes to introduce juice as part of the sales. This was a manifestation of the ability to adapt to the changing needs of the customers on our part. As a future manager in a business venture, I would therefore be keen on the demands by customers, and if need be, adapt accordingly.
Decision making and problem solving
At first, an issue arose as to the source of the funds so as to venture into the business. Most of the members of the groups were at a loss on where they would acquire the initial seed capital to start the business so as to raise the necessary funds.
The chief task that lay in our hands was to determine where the funds to operationalize the business would be obtained from. It therefore called for the use of or analytical capabilities to provide solutions to the problems that affected us as a group.
At this juncture, one of the group members proposed that we could go and pitch our idea to our course instructor and seek for a small loan which we would then use seed capital for the venture.
As evident in this paper, the course instructor actually bought into our idea and loaned as a total of $40 which we started with a seed capital with much success.
Planning and Organization
During the periods of sale, we were normally confronted with challenges of time since all the group members were students who had to attend classes. As such, the only periods that we were able to get so as to make the sales were during break times and the evenings.
The task that was at hand was to identify a strategy that we would employ while being constrained by time so as make the sales and achieve the targets that we had made.
The action that we took was to subdivide the work amongst ourselves where each of us would have their day in making the sales. Further, we chose the break times and the evenings as periods when we would display the goods for the customers.
The result of this strategy was tremendous as our major customers were fellow students. As such, the times that we displayed these goods coincided well with the time that they were available and ready to make the purchases.
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Parrish, B. (2010). Sustainability-driven entrepreneurship: Principles of organization design. Journal of Business Venturing , 102-114.