How to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs has been a problem that people have been grappling with for decades. However Andy Stephenson, himself an entrepreneur and Chief Maker at Weekend Box Club, believes he has found the answer - make the process more playful.
Here we sit down with Andy to learn more about Business Builder Boxes and the impact he believes they can have on the business leaders of the future.
Let’s start with the boxes themselves - what's in a box and how does it practically work?
Inside the Business Builder Box, children will receive everything they need to start a block-printing creative business from scratch, including resources to make loads of printed products (postcards, greetings cards, gift tags and more!) along with paints, blocks and so on. You also get loads of other stuff like marketing advice, fun finance games (yes, really), DIY marketing poster and a wall chart for tracking the progress of your business empire. You just need to follow the easy steps in the box to set up your business and get going!
Why does this playful approach to getting children into entrepreneurship work?
I'm a firm believer that the best way to solve the world's biggest problems is through business and entrepreneurship. When I started Weekend Box I began with a three-core aim of generating profit, helping people develop careers and to leave the planet a little bit better than how we found it.
Now more than ever before it's so easy to start a business and get going - you can spin up an e-commerce website in five minutes and be trading right away. Empires are built in months, not years.
One area I feel our education system is currently lacking is encouraging entrepreneurship from an earlier age as those are the skills I feel the leaders of tomorrow will need for this ever-changing world. As such, we wanted to reignite the 'Lemonade-stand' approach and give it a 21st Century reboot and being an ambassador for Traidcraft seemed to be a natural fit we leapt at the opportunity!
The campaign is highlighting 'ethical entrepreneurs', do you feel like that approach to business is one that already comes naturally to young entrepreneurs?
I think so. The world is seeing an amazing shift towards more ethical entrepreneurship and this is all part of it. When Weekend Box started in 2013 I made sure we focussed on profit, people and planet as our three aims. We're a private company so need to make a profit to keep the lights on but it was never meant to be our only driving goal and think more and more companies are moving towards this now.
When you run a business you're faced with decisions every single day that provide moral dilemmas. When we chose the cardboard for our boxes, should we go for regular board or FSC sustainability board (where at least one tree is planted for everyone chopped down) and to me it was a no-brainer. Do the right thing. Added to that with demand for more positive and ethical choices increasing price differences become negligible as well, making it even easier to grow your business and leave the world a little bit better than we found it.
Another perfect analogy is the growth of Fair Trade label products across multiple food/drink categories in the last 20 years. When I was in school I remember going shopping and seeing this revolutionary Fair Trade coffee on the shelves. Now, Rainforest Alliance coffee is now defacto at Wetherspoons and McDonalds (who interestingly are two of the biggest coffee chains in the country). The growth of ethical business is everywhere and in my opinion, it's here to stay!
Ironically entrepreneurs often like to portray themselves as 'outside the box' thinkers. Do you think that getting these young minds to think inside the box - therefore highlighting the fact all you really need to start a business can fit in a box - helps to demystify the process of starting a business?
I think with the Business Builder Boxes there's a mix of inside and outside the box thinking! Our aim is to encourage people to believe anyone can start a business, irrespective of age or experience. Two of the best top tips I have for aspiring entrepreneurs is to 'stay naive' and 'get started'. If I look back at when I started Weekend Box, I knew nothing about loads of stuff but it didn't stop me because I was following a dream and a passion. The other part is don't just be an armchair entrepreneur - just get out there and get going, the world is waiting for you!
How's that for out of the box thinking?!