At Fontys International Business School we have a brilliant course for all 2nd year students called ‘Mini Company’, which sees students from across all majors and all languages, come together in a randomly selected bunch and instructed to form a real life company. It’s enthralling, nerve wracking and exciting to say the least. So I thought as many of you are about tol embark on your own Mini Company experiences this year, I’d write a little run down of all the cool features of Mini Company which I personally took from it and loved.
First of all, you’re being put together with a bunch of strangers and the chances that you knew anyone within your group prior to starting your own mini company are relatively slim. This puts you in an interesting position as you have to fast-track getting to know each other to a reasonable enough extent whereby you can successfully form a working company together. The first task is to discuss roles within the company. For me, I was a General Manager – God knows how I managed to blag my way into that position but it was seriously cool nonetheless. You then need to discuss product ideas and what will often happen is you will need to present to your fellow group members and give your ideas for what you believe will be a successful product and will make the most money. You then need to talk about business operations and your overall strategy and also how you aim to sell shares and ultimately how many shares you aim to flog. All of this requires solid communication skills, and therefore mini company is a great way of bringing out these skills within you and helping to make them flourish.
Great for business knowledge
As you’ll know from undertaking your first year at Fontys, you’re going to be equipped with a whole bunch of business knowledge. Well – hopefully anyway, if you actually paid attention in class. Cough cough unlike me cough. Again, I really don’t know how I managed to blag myself into the role of GM… I think it’s probably because I’d be fairly useless at any of the other roles, especially something like Finance Manager – which is a bit ironic given the fact I study IBE.
Mini Company will allow you to put all that business knowledge into reality. It’s time to put the theory into practice and what better way than to have your very own start up company to focus on?
Tons of responsibility
The most important thing to remember about mini company is that it’s REAL. You’re running a company and with that comes a great amount of responsibility. Not only do you need to try your hardest to ensure the company is successful, you also have a duty to try and not let down your fellow group members. You all want success so you really need to take that responsibility with both hands and come up with the goods.
An ability to try different roles within a business
There are several different roles to choose from, and as you’ll probably know by now, the mini company experience is spread out over the course of the entire year and as it’s split into two semesters you have a chance to try out two different roles within the company. Whether it’s the GM post you fancy, or something like HR or Marketing, you’ve got the chance to give it a go, providing your fellow group members don’t dispute the fact that you’re up to the task.
I mentioned the responsibility already, but it’s also important to note how challenging mini company actually is. You need to produce a full business plan, a semi annual report and also a final annual report at the end of your experience. A large section of your final grade will be based on these reports, but don’t stress, you can all work together and if you set out your time table appropriately, you can get it done with relative ease.
Aside from the report, you’ve also got to have the ability to sell your eventual product. This requires a whole different skill entirely, and really allows you to brandish your marketing skills and catchy sales pitch.
It’s unlike anything else you’ll experience at university
I’ve certainly never experienced anything like mini company when studying here in Venlo and also when studying in the UK. Here you have the chance to receive some expert coaching in the process of owning and running your own company. You get to find out what it’s like to sell shares in your company. You have the chance to go through the process of research of development for products. You have to work on your sales abilities and get your product out there into the market. You need to learn how to work with other business members and overcome difficult challenges such as disputes between members. Mini company is unique and that’s why I personally love it so much.
Chance to make a profit
Okay so you have your product now, and you’ve even gone so far to produce/order it. Now it’s time to sell it. What’s cool about that is that if you end up making a huge profit, you get to keep it. I think if I’m not mistaken, you need to provide each member of the company with a wage for the year, and this needs to appear in the financial statements within the annual report. I believe that what my mini company did and what many other mini companies did was absorb these wages back into the company through donations – which was handy for us as we actually made quite a hefty loss and couldn’t even afford to pay a wage to our group members.
Relatively easy to get a brilliant grade (handy when it’s worth 8 credits)
If you do well with your reports and you engage with one another on a weekly basis within your group meetings then it’s easy to finish with a high grade. Profit is actually irrelevant. It’s all about the business process and how you react as individuals to different difficulties that usually arise within a business environment. If you take on plenty of responsibility within the company then you’re bound to end up with a high grade. I personally finished with an 8.2 which was higher than I expected. As I mentioned earlier we ended the mini company process with quite a hefty loss, but thankfully this had no bearing on my final grade – which is quite relieving!
So go on, give it your best shot. Your mini company coach doesn’t mind if your business fails, they just want to see how you all react to these failures and how you deal with your respective management roles. So give it 100% and have fun along the way. Above all, mini company is something that’s meant to be enjoyed.