Suffolk business owners make a difference to the next generation – and share their tips for 2024

Penny Wilby has had a long successful career in writing and small business however that doesn’t stop her from giving something back to the next generation. Penny is the owner of a digital agency come ultimate business guide to everything fabulous in and around Sudbury, Suffolk. With a passion for small business Penny has been an active Insider for many years. Here Penny shares why she likes to give something back…

Recently, I spent a brilliant morning at Thomas Gainsborough School, in Great Cornard, a stone’s throw away from Sudbury. They invited me to their “Guess my Job” activity for Year 7 students; a room buzzing with young minds, just stepping into high school from primary.

I was joined by a diverse group of business owners and professionals. We had someone from cybersecurity, a magistrate, an occupational therapist, and even a magician.

The objective? To spark curiosity about different careers in these 11 and 12-year-olds.

The questions I was asked by the students were eye-opening. They made me reflect on my own perspectives. so I thought I’d share some of these with you.

One student, a young lady, asked if I had future-proofed my business. Quite a profound question for anyone to ask, let along someone in the first year of high school. 

I took a moment and then shared my thoughts. I told her (& I paraphrase here) in today’s fast-paced tech world, learning new skills is crucial. It’s not just about the business adapting; it’s about us evolving too.

It’s only when we refuse to open our minds to change that things can go pear-shaped.

A forward thinking business owner!

“Did you always want to do what you do now?” Another student asked.

I chuckled to myself. Back in the mid-80s, we didn’t even have the internet, let alone social media or AI. The career landscape has transformed drastically. It made me wonder, how will our businesses evolve in the next 5, 10, or 15 years. How are we preparing for it?

Then came a question from a young lad about AI. “Is your job under threat?” he asked. His awareness of AI’s role in the future was impressive. I confidently replied that AI is an asset to my business. It’s about harnessing AI, not competing with it. I believe AI will revolutionise business even more than social media has. It’s in its early stages, and there are pitfalls of new technology that we need to be aware of, but it’s going to change things and we have 11 year olds already recognising that.

These interactions at Thomas Gainsborough School were more than just an exercise for the students. They were a reminder for us all. The future is changing rapidly. It’s up to us to stay ahead, adapt, and embrace these changes. Who knows what the next big leap will be? But one thing’s certain – the journey’s going to be fascinating.

A thought provoking look at the future of our small businesses. That’s something we will always do at the Insiders / The Business Womans Network, is look at the best practices to future your business. Assess ideas. Assist with market research to ensure your business thrives no matter what. Thank you Penny.

To learn more about the wonderful businesses Penny’s business support click here.

To learn more about AI and how it is coming into business click here.

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