Paul's Visit to Marlwood School

As a young man with a desire to put my entrepreneurial skills into action and then having rather successfully done so over the past few years I felt it was time to "give something back" to my local community as a way of saying thanks to those who have supported me. I wanted to pass on the knowledge I had gained from starting my own business under the age of 30 and developing it into one of the UK's fastest growing office furniture suppliers! So I thought who better than to help students from my old school - Marlwood School in Alveston, South Gloucestershire - www.marlwood.com.
Marlwwod School
After hearing how beneficial it was for Marlwood students to have some 'real world' examples of starting and running a business I decided to get in touch with one of the Business Studies teachers at the school -  well, there's only so much Business Studies text books can provide!

So, after a meeting with Mrs Thompsett on the school premises in September, it was agreed that I would come and visit the Year 12's - 16 &17 yr olds - and give an overview of where life took me after school (University of Plymouth), travelling abroad, work as a shelf stacker (for M&S, I took their levels of customer service as an influence on how I wanted to do things) and how and why I started my company: Rainbow Zebra.

December arrived and with the presentation having been prepared and rehearsed on a regular basis the day really did quickly creep up on me. The Business Studies class consisted of around 20 students, who for a Monday morning seemed full of enthusiasm which was absolutely great to see. I made certain my presentation included an overview of what Rainbow Zebra was about and how I had started it and dealt with business issues as well as overseeing it's continued growth.

To keep things interesting I covered a range of topics including:

    • Setting up a merchant account
    • Complying to the various UK rules and regulations when operating an e-commerce business
    • How different forms or marketing and advertising can be used 
    • The importance of cash flow
    • Dealing with suppliers
    • Ensuring that customers get the best service

Each topic generally related back to how Rainbow Zebra approaches and manages each one and my aim was to give the students an outline of each aspect-  with the idea that if they wanted to know more they would particularly benefit from participating by asking lots of questions! They seemed as though they were enjoying it and a range of questions were asked helping generate more ideas around the classroom.

Not being a wholly natural speaker (though practice makes perfect) I was very grateful for the enthusiastic round of applause I received from Marlwood School's students at the end of my presentation, hopefully this was a sign that I gave them all a better understanding of the different facets of running a business. I was also really pleased to be able to chat to some of the students afterwards and discovering their future career plans - it was a real honour to impart a little bit of advice based on my experiences in my business career so far.

I left Marlwood with an immense feeling of satisfaction - if I even inspired just one student to start up their own company and become a young entrepreneur that's a really rewarding feeling.

I had such a great time helping the students at Marlwood School that if your school or organisation is looking for a young entrepreneur to speak at an event please let me know, I'd love to hear from you.

Paul Randall
Managing Director
Rainbow Zebra

Posted by Paul Randall
10th December 2013