The latest instalment in our “Graduates of Global Distinction” series is a 2016 BSc Accounting and Management graduate who started his business in his first year of study. Jacob Freshwater has subsequently incorporated his organisation, Fresh Motors Ltd providing an online car sales business in the Norfolk region. His business is aiming to achieve a turnover of £250,000 in his first full year of trading as a limited company. In February 2017 he was been awarded £3000 funding from our UEA Enterprise ‘Do It’ fund. Jacob presented a compelling business plan to a panel of experts including Dr Graham Manville our Director of Employability and Enterprise. Jacob’s business plan stood out from the crowd of 12 business plans being judged and the four person panel were unanimous in awarding Fresh Motors Ltd the funding. Jacob intends to use part of the money to purchase a consumer credit licence in order to offer car finance to increase his target market. Graham had the pleasure of teaching Jacob in the third year Small Business and Entrepreneurship module and adds that “Jacob is a fantastic ambassador for NBS and has raised the bar for student entrepreneurship in The School. He has managed to balance his entrepreneurial flair with his academic achievements by simultaneously running his business and obtaining a starred first class degree.”
Read Jacob’s inspirational story and I am sure you will find also find it very inspirational…
I starting car trading in my first year at UEA and it wasn’t until my final year I made the move to formalise from a sole trader into Fresh Motors Ltd. With graduation on the horizon, I knew it was the right time to incorporate myself. Since then, the Business has grown from strength to strength. It began from home, having just 1 car on the driveway, to currently a unit forecourt premises with a 15-20 car stock holding. Originally, Fresh Motors stocked just small hatchback cars targeted at the first time market, but we’ve grown to hold more expensive vehicles such as convertibles and premium saloons.
The most rewarding aspect of what I do on a daily basis is the variety. Being the sole Director, I turn my hand to all aspects of the Business, from acquiring new stock, preparing for sale, through to the sale and final handover, whilst managing the accounts and administrative tasks. Our greatest achievement is smashing the £100k turnover mark, in just 4 months of trading; I am very pleased that the company isn’t a baby anymore and is becoming something special. I’ve also been lucky enough to be selected for an interview by Autotrader for a video publication and report on the “Millennial” car trader characteristic. This will focus on how the young trader uses technology, data and insight to purchase and market stock more effectively, and it should be published in the new year!
Originally I wanted to become an Accountant, and during my first year was lucky enough to work in the UEA Finance department for several months courtesy of Springboard Internships and the help provided by UEA Careers Services. It was here I realised I favoured an entrepreneurial approach to my graduate career rather than a traditional route. Saying that, from an early age I’ve always had an interest in trading, whether it was chewing gum and sweets at school, to champagne on eBay, and now cars. It just seemed like a natural progression that has followed me through life. It was really important for me when making my decision, however, to try different things in order to gain lots of valuable experience in the areas I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.
Without my degree in Accounting and Management, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to set up Fresh Motors Ltd. At Norwich Business School I was introduced to business as being multi-disciplinary, learning from all pillars of Accounting, Economics, Marketing, Strategy and Human Resources. This cross-pollination of subjects is heavily embraced at UEA, which has helped me to understand how business works on many different levels and sizes, from large conglomerates to small business enterprises. I love numbers, but UEA encouraged me to deviate from my core degree subject by selecting free option modules, whereby I could learn different disciplines of business, resulting in a very fulfilled and rounded approach to my degree. The biggest lesson I learnt from this freedom of module choice is,there isn’t one discipline that wins. “Cash is King”, but without understanding the market, the product, your customers, staff or importantly being conscious of the daily changes that happen around you, you’ll fail hard and fast. Business isn’t easy, but having the option to paint a flavored picture of it, most certainly gave me a great head start! As a large proportion of my degree was numbers based, my knowledge has also allowed me to manage and record my accounts, which has saved me money in paying someone else to do so.
UEA exposed me to business in many different contexts and it is this exposure that allows me to question all the decisions I make. Furthermore, it has allowed me to view the market from many different perspectives and stakeholders. For instance, first impressions are paramount, and this is why we’ve dedicated a large proportion of resources to our website and online advertising platforms!
The car trade has changed dramatically from the old school days of driving around on a Sunday looking at cars locally advertised in the newspaper, to surfing the internet looking for the right car nationwide. The bulk decision-making is done online and buyers are much more informed with prices than ever before, putting strain on margins. It’s important for Fresh Motors to stay current with the changes in the motor industry and market the business accordingly to attract our target demographics, whilst maintaining a competitive value proposition. Throughout my degree, I was able to learn why business fails and how it can succeed in a constantly changing environment, it is this confidence which allows me to stay competitive despite changes in the demand, such as the slow periods of Christmas.
With my cars, family, friends and degree taking precedent, I unfortunately didn’t have time to join any clubs or societies. For stress relief though, I did enjoy running around the UEA broad and surrounding woodland areas. Myself and a friend trained and ran 3 half marathons for Sport Relief in 5 days last year.
My advice to current students or recent gradates would be to try lots of different options career wise until you find the right avenue for you. I started University wanting to be an Accountant, and left selling cars. The key is to wake up on Monday morning and enjoy what you do, looking forward to the week ahead. Don’t choose a career because it’ll make you rich, money isn’t everything, having a fulfilling career doing something you enjoy will make you richer as an individual – The rest will follow suit. I also think it’s important to look outside the box, don’t just explore traditional routes, search for the maverick approaches, talk to and get advice from as many sources as possible. It’s just advice you don’t have to take it, but you never know it may be the tipping point in which your future is built on. UEA has a great support network, and for me, knowing the door is open to the CareerCentral for the 3 years post graduation should my venture fail, is very reassuring.
With thanks to Jacob Freshwater for contributing to the NBS Blog.