Like it or not, we’re now almost 2 whole months into Summer Action – with only another 12 weeks or so to go. As you’re well aware, a successful Summer can lead to great success throughout the year – whether it’s setting up your team to ensure its long term sustainability, or developing and implementing new enterprises ahead of the new academic year.
Summer Action isn’t just an award. It’s the foundation of a successful Enactus year. This is quite a long post so there’s a summary at the bottom if you want a quick read!
Here’s some of my top tips for making the most of your Summer months:
I was always told: “Work smart, not hard”. To make the most of Enactus (and life), you’ve got to realise that time is finite, and as a result, you need to be selective about where you invest your time and energy. The same is true of your Enactus team. Every member brings something new to the table – new ideas, new energy. It’s up to you, as leaders, to direct and focus it using an overall strategy.
Your strategy should look at your team objectively, and cover (at least) the following things:
1. What is our team best at?
- What is our team bad at?
- Where is our team now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How can we use what we’re best at to improve?
- And how can we cover our weak spots?
Now, beware. It’s often the case that new leadership will come in and decide ‘last years strategy was wrong, let’s make a new one’; however, it’s much better to build on the
previous years strategy than try to change it completely as you could end up using the previous years worth of work.
This is the most important part of Summer Action. Let me just say this again: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF SUMMER ACTION. Without a team, nothing will happen during the year, and so it’s important to get this right.
A good place to start is with your committee. Who are they? What are they good at? Can they recite the Enactus criterion off by heart (I kid you not, this is a real thing I drilled into the team). If the people at the top haven’t got a clue, what hope is there for the new members?
Only when you’re sure your committee is solid, you should be thinking about your new recruits. In particular:
How are you going to find and recruit new members?
How are you going to train and engage your new members over the first 2-3 months?
How are you going to instil your team culture?
Are you going to have enough for a new team to do when they come in?
That last point is really important. If you recruit a large team, but don’t have anything for them to do, not only will it be difficult to manage, but you’ll have drop outs and lose the interest of the majority.
Great. You’ve made it this far and hopefully have an idea of who you want in your team and how you’re going to get them involved. Next, you need enterprises for them to be a part of.
Momentum is a powerful thing. Making sure that you build on the successes at the national competition and keep your enterprises not only alive, but growing is paramount. If you’re already up and running, don’t neglect your project over Summer.
For each of your enterprises, now is a time to look at what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and come up with a plan of action. The plan should address how you’re going to build your project in the new year, and the types of people / skills you’ll need in the team to do it. This should feed directly into your recruitment plans.
You may also want to begin some new ventures ahead of the new academic year. Now is the time to put in the work, building the foundations and relationships so that the new team have something to run with come September. But beware, just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. Remember that strategy you started with earlier? Make sure your new ventures are in line with it.
Just by being part of Enactus you have access to a network of amazing individuals, organisations and alumni mentors – and each one wants you to succeed. By tapping into this network, you have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience from people who have ‘been there and done that’ for many years.
Your network is your net worth. Use it well.
People are busy, though. So the burden on you is to figure out how you can effectively engage the network and maximise the value you both give and take from the network.
Effective engagement is contingent about getting the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. So, think about what kind of information people will want to receive from you, and tailor accordingly.
For example, the leadership within your University or your SU may want to know about any ‘big wins’ you’ve had, but may not necessarily need to know that you’re holding your next recruitment session next Thursday? And a Business Advisor may care about your local projects, but may not be too interested in the international side of things.
The trick is to find out what everyone cares about, and tailor your commu- nications to them based on this. This will increase your network engage- ment, and enable much better support to be provided in turn.
But remember, this is a two-way relationship. It’s important to think about what you can do for your network in return. For example, sponsor companies may want the opportunity to meet your team, and your mentors may want to see their advice and help is appreciated and being put into use.
Lastly, a great way to boost engagement is to create a calendar of events for the year in advance. Sponsor companies, mentors, and BAs alike all need notice of events in order to make sure they can attend, and a calendar of events (distributed early), can go a long way in ensuring everyone can make it.
When managed correctly, your finances can support you in growth, allow you to invest in your team and your enterprises, or can support you on a rainy day. Conversely, poorly managed finances can become a hinderance to the team, limiting the number of options you have.
So where do you start? Well, a good place to start is to look at your income and expenditure over the past year, and group it into key sections. We used:
Individual Project Income
Individual Project Expenditure
Grants and Awards
Now that you have a feel for what happened in the previous year, you can begin to make estimates for the upcoming year. For example, if your team spent £1,000 on team training last year, but your strategy says you want to increase the level of training your team receives, you’ll want to reflect this in your budgets. As well as this, you’ll also want to retain an ‘emergency fund’ each year.
Once you’ve figured out how much you’re likely to spend, have a look at your incomes and see if it can support that level of expenditure. If not, you’re going to need to find a way to boost your income.
Be careful though, the aim of your team isn’t to generate the largest revenues, it’s to empower as many people as you can. You’ll want to make enough ‘just in case’, but don’t make it the sole focus of your team.
I’ve left this towards the end, because it’s the least important part of the whole thing. If you’ve done your Summer Action right, your team will reap the rewards throughout the upcoming year — however, if you’ve excelled during Summer Action, you may very well be contesting for the much coveted ‘Summer Action Awards’. Here’s some tips for putting together an awesome video:
- Content. Content is king – there’s no two ways about it. Make sure you’ve got a pre-written script ahead of time that accurately covers everything you’ve done so far, and the points on the marking crite- ria. Make it really easy to mark by splitting the video into sections in line with the marking criterion.
- Sound. If what you’re saying is inaudible, you’re gonna’ have a bad time. Make sure that your microphone (or camera) is unobstructed, there’s no wind, and that your subject is talking loudly and clearly.
- Video. You don’t need a fancy and expensive camera in order to put together a great looking video. Look up the ‘rule of thirds’ for fram- ing your shots, and make sure (for the love of god) that you’re film- ing in landscape.
- Software. You don’t need anything fancy here. You can do a great job using Windows Movie Maker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac). Just lay off the transitions okay?
- Kit. If you’re feeling really fancy, hop on down to your Student Union and see if they’ve got any free kit available. Most SU’s have a media section and can be very accommodating when it comes to lending out gear.
TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ.
For everyone too lazy to read the full text, it boils down to:
Step 1: Strategy. Figure out early on what type of team you want to be, what kind of enterprises you want to build, and where you want to be at the end of the year. Use this to guide everything you do during the year.
Step 2: Team. Focus on recruiting, engaging and then training the best possible team. Make sure they’re constantly developing and have something meaningful to do, because if they become disengaged, nothing will ever get done.
Step 3: Enterprises. Make sure you keep the momentum alive and don’t let your work die over the Summer. For your existing enterprises, make a growth plan for the new year, and document the people and skills you’ll need to have in the team to make it happen. For new enterprises, make sure it’s in line with the strategy you’ve set out and that the foundations are in place for the arrival of your new team.
Step 4: Support. Focus on maximising the value to both your team and your support network by matching them up to the things that interest them the most and delivering the right level of information to the right people, at the right time. Planning and distributing your yearly calendar at the beginning of the year can greatly boost attendance later on.
Step 5: Finances. Use your finances from the previous year and your strate- gy to create budgets and estimates for your finances for the upcoming year. If you need to generate more income, look at potential commercial oppor- tunities to implement for the new year. Make sure that finances doesn’t be- come the sole focus of your team, though.
Summer Action is an amazing opportunity to prepare your Enactus team for the year ahead. Having a structured plan for how you will tackle it will help in the long term and ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, and how it will contribute to the success of the team in the long run. Most importantly, though, it’s about having fun, meeting up with your team in the Summer, and keeping that great big ball of momentum running into the new year.