‘Individual to three’ students

‘Individual to three’ students

In the spirit of this course, we want you to go out and find, and then talk in depth with an actual small business. We are not particularly concerned about what constitutes small – but typical definitions would include firms up to 250 employees, whilst the natural skew in SME size suggests you are more likely to meet up with SMEs around 25 employees or less.

The main selection criteria are that they will talk to you about how they do business and you can enter into some meaningful dialogue. This is what we expect you to do; you are not there as ‘quasi consultants’. Unless you create a very good relationship – some aspects of the business are likely to be off limits, for example, company accounting data.

This is not meant to be an easy piece of work – it counts, after all is said, to your final degree classification and is in place of the more traditional examination.

To do this piece of work successfully you will need to work as a team, find a willing SME, persuade then to talk to you on several occasions and then write up the exercise in a professional manner. Along the way you will need to exercise judgement, tact, perception and be able to integrate your academic learning from this module and others into the analysis of the case. Thus it makes sense that you operate as a team – this will allow you to develop and share experience and skills, and you can give each other moral support as well.

Our suggestion is that you operate individually or pairs or threes (to share the work and gain moral support!) Neither the brief nor the marking will be altered to reflect team size.

Once you have found an SME we would like to have some contact details so that we can thank them for their help and introduce ourselves etc. If you need any formal documentation or verification before then, please ask. Alternatively give them our contact details (j.day@hud.ac.uk; 01484-473355 direct telephone).

This is an innovative piece of coursework, and the twelfth time that we have used this approach. In addition, we have listened and talked to colleagues in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the States about similar schemes. You are very much ambassadors of our Department, the Business School and the University.

Therefore, you need to behave in a business-like fashion and to make very sure that the SME that you are talking to is aware of the boundaries and goals of this exercise.

Presumably, you are going out to find reasonably successful SMEs and so we can expect that they know how to conduct their business. We can also expect you to have a whole toolbox of tools gathered from the marketing and strategy programmes that you have followed or are following, not to mention the material from this course. So you use those tools – SWOTs, PESTS, 4(7) Ps, PORTER etc. After all, they are how you understand the business world. Your problem is, and it is analogous to technology transfer, that your business will understand all too well their competitive environment but ask them to go through a Porter analysis with you will probably not be the best of ideas. Equally you will need to build up some trust and enthusiasm with the SME … do not having said ‘Hello’ then ask them for their opinion of the GE Matrix and their response to each part of the matrix.

(Please note that we are unlikely to return your work as it is needed for External Examiner verification etc. … so if you need a copy for yourselves or the SME we would be grateful if you would make a second copy for yourselves).

Please note we welcome case studies from outside of the UK but this is NOT a piece of work based on secondary data, you must show that you have engaged and talked with the SME (face-to-face, Skype etc.) in a meaningful way and this must be demonstrated in the work. You are authors of this case study and so it will be unique. You must be able to convince us that you have engaged with the SME.

Whilst this assessment is designed, to encourage you to be creative and innovative … there is a strict framework and sequence for your answer which is shown on the next page.

FOR YOUR CHOSEN SME

ACTIVITY
FORMAT
WEIGHTING

1
Some basic demographic data: name; location; date started; size (e.g. number of business units); business sector; number of employees – full time and part time; number of owners; whether a family business.

written

gratis

2
Write a descriptive business history outlining the critical developments in their trading to date.
written
20

3
Clearly show the reader their relative position in their marketplace.
written
10

4
Produce a short brief containing secondary data on their market.
written
10

5
Write up a profile of the SME in a similar style to that which until recently could have been found in the Saturday supplement of the Financial Times – illustrations to be used as appropriate. Examples are available on the Unilearn site under FT MYOB EXAMPLES button.
written
10

6 – 7
Having developed a rapport with the SME …………

7    a    Consider the nature of how they plan

b    Select two areas of particular concern to them and critically discuss these

c    Consider the particular way in which they market their good or service – how is this constrained or facilitated by their being an SME?

d    Select three marketing or strategy models with which you are familiar and relate them to the issues that you have discussed above and/or show how these models can describe and inform us about how your SME behaves and/or the problems and issues that it is addressing or needs to address.

Having stated what you believe entrepreneurial marketing is about – to what extent are these themes and issues realistic for your SME.
This section must demonstrate that you are familiar with both the key textbooks for this module and appropriate journal articles. You must cite your sources clearly and accurately. That should go without saying – but it gives us a chance to follow up material that you will come across and that we have not.    written    10
written    10
written    10
written    10
written    10

8
Demonstrate that you have discussed, compared and contrasted headline findings for your SME with two other groups. The most basic way would be an A4 sheet of bullet points added to your report to demonstrate that you have done this.

But feel free to be more creative.
written
None – has to be done
– you will benefit immeasurably – what more incentive do you need?
Weightings are indicative but you must attempt all the tasks set out above.

We will discuss and elaborate this brief in tutorials.

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