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Entrepreneurial impressions – reflection
Entrepreneurial impressions – reflection

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1.1 Activity 1

SuperJam – an entrepreneurial story

Timing: Allow about 90 minutes for this activity

Read Section 1.2 ‘Scoping and defining entrepreneurship’ in Exploring Entrepreneurship: Practices and Perspectives [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (Blundel and Lockett, 2011, pp. 4–9) and make your own notes on the working definitions of ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘entrepreneurial activity’, ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘enterprise’ that are offered in the text. Also spend a few minutes considering the different kinds of activity that might be described as entrepreneurial, based on the ways it is organised, the context in which it takes place and the goals that are pursued in its name.

Now watch ‘A successful jam-making business’ (duration: 05:53 minutes). It features 20-year-old Fraser Doherty from Edinburgh, who started making jam at home with his grandmother. As demand grew, he looked into the jam market and spotted a gap for a healthier brand which he successfully marketed to supermarket chains. His success with SuperJam has brought global media attention. Now he uses some of the profits to fund afternoon social events for local pensioners. Make your own notes in response to the following questions:

  1. What do you see as distinctively entrepreneurial about Fraser as an individual?
  2. What other factors do you see as significant in the success of his business?
  3. Read Case 1.1 Helen Child: an entrepreneur looks back in Exploring Entrepreneurship: Practices and Perspectives (pp. 2–3). How does Fraser’s entrepreneurial experience compare to that of Helen? List the main similarities and differences (you may also wish to include a comparison with your own direct or indirect experiences).

You might also like to carry out a quick search to get updates on Fraser’s venture at the SuperJam website.

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  1. Based on the evidence of the video and blog, you may have noticed that Fraser Doherty has a number of personal attributes that appear to have been useful in developing his jam-making venture. For example, he is able to communicate his ideas in a very natural, clear and persuasive way, both in written form and on camera. Above all, he seems to have a great enthusiasm for his business, and for what it can do for other people. What do you see if you look beneath the informal and relaxed exterior? Did you detect signs that Fraser possesses personal characteristics such as single-mindedness, stamina and the capacity to cope with a degree of uncertainty? You may find it useful to compare your findings with those of other students, and with the textbook example identified in question 3.
  2. Looking beyond Fraser as an individual, it is possible to identify a number of what might be termed ‘social and ‘economic’ factors that have had a positive influence on the SuperJam venture. For example, Fraser’s family has provided a supportive environment in which he has been able to experiment with the business. Did you find any influential role models in Fraser’s own account of his entrepreneurial career? Turning to economic factors, we can see the SuperJam concept as part of a broader retail trend in the United Kingdom and other countries towards more differentiated premium food products.
  3. How did the stories of these entrepreneurs compare? Did you notice any similarities, either at the individual level, or in terms of external factors (for example social or economic trends) that have helped shape their entrepreneurial careers? When you examine the lives of entrepreneurs, it is useful to look for such patterns and also to consider the ways in which they differ. It is also important to think about the person who is telling the ‘story’ and what impact this might have on your own understanding. Narratives are among the most powerful forms of persuasive communication. For this reason, they can become a very valuable resource for entrepreneurs. For example, they can be used to help legitimise a new business idea and to obtain support from potential financiers, business partners and other influential people. This is clearly evident in Fraser’s case, where the story of the ‘Jam Boy’ is a central theme in the organisation’s communications.

Fraser Doherty’s story might be seen as reinforcing another stereotype of the entrepreneur as an exceptional individual. However the case also contains evidence of external factors that helped him create a successful business venture at such an early age. In the next activity, we examine the influence exerted by other people, including family and friends.