Police close lemonade stand

Is Your Lemonade Stand Illegal?

Police close lemonade stand

Police officer closing down the lemonade stand

This week it was Jerry Seinfeld’s kids lemonade stand getting closed down by police due to neighbors complaining about parking and not having a permit. I have been hearing about a stand getting closed down almost every week some place in the U.S. this summer – what do you think this does to kids who are testing the waters for entrepreneurship? Most of the time, the kids who start the lemonade stand are raising money for a good cause or they may be saving up for a larger purpose (not to mention all the learning they are doing). What better way than to start a lemonade stand?

So what is up with the neighbors who are complaining and basically getting the kids ticketed, fined and closing their businesses? I’m wondering is the lemonade stand on a hot summer day really causing them a problem? Do they not have enough to keep their selves busy? Another reason for shutting down the stands is that they are competing with a local business – I’m wondering how much business a young entrepreneur lemonade stand takes away from an established business. I have learned that is more important to focus on your own business and do the best you can then to worry about the business next door! And what about our police force – don’t they have more important things to do then to visit a kid’s lemonade stand to close it down? I’m frankly quite disappointed that we are even spending resources on this! I’ve even read

Okay, so there may be arguments that the kids should get a business license. But really can’t we make kids first taste at business more positive? How about if municipalities create a Lemonade Law and allow kids up to 5 different days to run lemonade stands during the year. If the kids want to sell more days, then the formal process of applying for the permit would need to take place. A website page could be added for kids to register the dates of lemonade stands and print out a permit that they can display at their stand so when their neighbor wants to report them they can easily see that the young entrepreneur has taken care of the permit. One simple webpage set up can eliminate the phone call to the police, the police having to investigate and break the young entrepreneur’s heart!

If you know of any municipalities have come up with a good system to remedy this issue, please share maybe others can learn from what has already worked! We definitely need to make it easier for young entrepreneurs to try out their business ideas – if we don’t change the way we treat them we may have less and less young entrepreneurs which will translate in less small businesses in the future (more on that in my next blog post)!

If you would like free tips and resources to cultivate youth entrepreneurs (or to run lemonade stands) – sign up for our free e-newsletter at eseedling.com or purchase More Than a Lemonade Stand at eseedling.com or your favorite online book store.

Business idea

I have a business idea – 5 steps young entrepreneurs can start with!

Business idea

I have a business idea

In the last 2 blog posts I included ideas for how young entrepreneurs might come up with a business idea, an overview of the steps to get started and 10 ideas that work. Now that the business idea is starting to be developed, here is some more detail on what to do next.
Here are 5 steps to get going in the right direction:
1) Calculate how much the unit (or direct) costs are. What is needed to create the product or service? For example, if you are making jewelry, you will need to know how much wire, beads, and other supplies are needed to create one unit (bracelet, ring, earring, etc.) and then figure out the total cost. There may also be costs for equipment or supplies that is necessary to make the product or provide the service so that also needs to be taken into account (these are indirect costs). The same is true for a service, how much do you want to get paid for the service and are any supplies needed to provide the service.
2) Pricing the product or service – after the costs are calculated, figure out how much you want to make per product or unit of service. This can do this by using an accounting equation (a simple math problem); Income-Expenses = Profit. You have already calculated the costs and the profit is how much you want to make (such as $2.00 per bracelet). You can then back into the income which is the sales price for the item or service. Also make sure to account for indirect costs.
3) Get the word out. You need to figure out how you are going to get the word out to potential customers. Once you know who your customers are (neighbors, friends, family, school mates, etc.), you can figure out how to communicate what they are selling to them (this is marketing). This may be by making posters, business cards, flyers, or posting on social media. The key is to find out where your customers are and what the most cost effective way of communicating your message to them is.
4) Follow the rules. Make sure to check with your city, town or school about any rules they have for selling items. You want to make sure they obey the laws and rules so they don’t end up with fines or other issues.
5) Keep good records, make sure you keep track of what you are selling how much you are making and keep it separate from your personal money such as allowance or other non-business funds. This is a good habit to get in right away as it is very important if your business grows to keep business and personal funds separate. If your business takes off – you may need to consult with an accountant or attorney about any taxes you might need to pay.
These 5 steps will get them going in the right direction with a new business. Watch for future posts as they will focus in more detail about the different concepts of running a business as a young entrepreneur.
If you would like additional information on youth entrepreneurship or teaching youth entrepreneurs sign up for my e-newsletter and free tips at http://eseedling.com/

Start an Awesome Business

10 Awesome Business Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs

Start an Awesome Business

Start an Awesome Business now

In my last blog post I talked about how kids can use their talents and passion to guide them into a business idea. But how do you know if that idea will work?  Here are 9 business ideas that have a high chance of success for young entrepreneurs (and some helpful hints for each one):

  1. Make jewelry – if you love jewelry – and like making things with your hands – try making jewelry. Start by making bracelets for your friends and family (both girls and boys wear bracelets if they are with larger beads). Then remember to keep track of all of the supply costs and your time so that you price them fairly and for you to make some money.
  2. Babysit – Okay so there are a lot of kids who do this. But think of what you can add to your service that makes you different and better than others. Could you include doing crafts with them or helping with their school work or a sport or dance. Then propose that to the parents and see if they might pay a little more for that service.
  3. Tutor- if you are one of those kids who is really good in a specific subject, then think about how you can help others increase their knowledge in that subject. You could print some worksheets (or better yet create some) and help kids complete the work. Remember to make sure it is not too hard for the student but is just hard enough to challenge them. Also, make sure you communicate how much you are charging and what is included.
  4. Mow lawns – if you have experience mowing lawns, this may be a good option as a business. You can either provide the lawn mower and gas (in which you want to charge a higher price) or use theirs. This is a good service to provide within your neighborhood. Neighbors may also need other services such as trimming, weeding, changing light bulbs, raking, etc. So ask them what they need and charge them for your services.
  5. Make video game tutorials – if you love playing video games and you are good at it- why not make video tutorials. You can post them on YouTube and if your views get high enough then you may earn revenue with sponsorships. If you want to post them on your website you can charge a subscription fee to your members (the startup costs may be a bit higher).
  6. Make fashion and make-up videos. If you are into fashion and/or make-up then you can film videos and post them on YouTube. You may find sponsors to pay you for each view or you can create a membership site that your fans subscribe to for your tips.
  7. Create an E-Zine. If you have some great content to share with the world, create a subscription based online magazine with unique content. Something that you can give hints and tips for, videos on a subject, interviews with experts or cooking foods would be great topics to get subscribers.
  8. Teach sports, dance or music. If you have an expertise that you can teach, this is a great way to share it and help others. Remember to keep track of all expenses and your time so you can charge enough to make it worthwhile.
  9. Make something. If you have a product you can make such as t-shirts, candles, fishing lures, etc. You can sell them to your friends and family and then have customers post their use of them on social media to help get the word out and expand your business.
  10. Care for Pets. If you love animals then help out your neighbors by taking care of their pets while they are on vacation or busy at work. You can walk their dog, play with their cat, or feed their fish. You will love what you do and your neighbors will love that they don’t have to rush home to take care of their pets!

Remember you have a few weeks of summer left so it is a great time to get your business idea going! Always remember to ask your parents before starting up a business endeavor! Visit eseedling.com for more resources and information on youth entrepreneurship.

Parents helping kids start a business

Avoid Summer Brain Drain – Help your kids start a business!

Parents helping kids start a business

Parents helping kids start a business

There is still a month left of summer vacation and the kids are getting bored! Why not have them start a business? Starting a small business is a good way to keep the brain drain away and keep the kids busy, learn responsibility, earn money and build their resume!

Here are 6 things to help your kids get started as entrepreneurs.

  1. Have them write down what they are good at, what they like to do in their spare time and what they have knowledge in. This helps them realize their talents and passions. It is much more fun to start a business doing something you love!
  2. Once the kids have narrowed down their idea, have them think about what problems they can solve with those skills and talents (maybe it’s teaching a musical instrument, academic subject, dance or a sport or maybe it’s doing outside work such as lawn mowing, leaf raking or snow shoveling).
  3. Once they have an idea – they need to put together a list of what is needed to start and the costs (they may need to research costs online or go to the store). Once the list is ready – have them make a proposal to you and discuss the idea. If you approve they may also need to check with a municipality to see if there are any special permits necessary.
  4. Have the kids come up with a price for their product or service. They should check out if they have any competition, what they are charging and what their strengths and weaknesses are so they know how to sell against them. They will also want to think about how much they want to make in order to figure out what they charge the customer.
  5. Have the kids come up with a schedule to work on the business and be reliable for their customers. If kids do this their business will grow with word of mouth.
  6. Help them find a mentor – if you have business knowledge you may be able to help, if not see if there is another adult who may be able to help them with business questions as they come up.

These starting steps will help kids get started learning about running a business and give them a taste of entrepreneurship! Want more information on youth entrepreneurship – visit www.eseedling.com.

Entrepreneurial Parents pic

5 things I learned from my Entrepreneurial Parents

Entrepreneurial Parents pic

Entrepreneurial Parents, Julie and Sons

I was very fortunate to have both of my parents as entrepreneurial role models as I was growing up. Both my mom and dad owned their own businesses at one time during my life and through growing up on a farm and raising steers for 4-H I learned that you can earn money to help pay for things (such as college) here are 5 things that I learned about entrepreneurship from my parents.

  1.  Entrepreneurship is about doing what you love. My dad owned a HVAC business – he took what his work experience and went out on his own. He was able to do what he loved, the way he wanted to do it. I remember when he named his business ABF heating and air conditioning.  He wanted it to start with A so it would be listed first in the yellow pages (that was before the internet). ABF stood for Accurate Best Fast – which was his motto for the business. My mom owned her own antique business and ran it from one of the out-buildings on our farm. She had a passion for antiques and collectibles and was very gifted at refinishing antiques. She was also able to do what she loved, the way she wanted to do it with the hours that she chose to work.
  2. Entrepreneurship is about freedom. Not only did my parents have the freedom to choose how they want to complete the work, they had the freedom to choose their own schedules. This allowed our family to go on some exciting camping trips and short skiing vacations in the winter (the hardest thing was getting the school to agree to let us go). They also gave me the freedom to explore entrepreneurship through penny carnivals, lemonade stands, garage sales, craft sales and my plant business (read the e-seedling story on eseedling.com).
  3. Entrepreneurship is about hard work. Don’t get me wrong about the entrepreneur and freedom thing, which is a great benefit of entrepreneurship, but it is definitely about working hard. It takes a lot of hard work to make a business successful and may be some of the hardest work you will ever do but the rewards are well worth it. Waking up in the middle of winter to go out and feed the steers and other animals before school and in the evening was hard work but it helped pay for our college education.
  4. Entrepreneurship is about solving problems. My dad’s ABF HVAC business helped others stay warm and cool when they needed it. My mom’s business helped others purchase completely refinished antiques for their home. Customers buy solutions so it’s important to know what problem you are solving. At E-seedling we make it easy to implement youth entrepreneurship education.
  5. Entrepreneurship is about taking responsibility. Owning a business means the “buck stops here” – there is not one thing that I can think of that will teach more about responsibility than owning your own business. You are responsible for not only your pay check but also any employees that you have working for you. You are also responsible customer satisfaction, government compliance, and any issues regarding your business.

I’m sure that if I thought about it more, I could come up with a long list of the things I have learned along the way from my parents and am definitely learning a lot more these days running my e-seedling business. I hope I can instill that entrepreneurial mindset into my two sons! If you would like more information on youth entrepreneurship education – visit: eseedling.com.

 

youth entrepreneur world

Youth Entrepreneurs are Changing the World – get in on the change!

youth entrepreneur world

youth entrepreneurs are changing the world

Youth Entrepreneurs are Changing the World!

Every day I read about amazing young entrepreneurs who are making our world a better place. It is both encouraging and inspiring learning about what the next generation of entrepreneurs is accomplishing! But, if you think kids can go out on the street corner start a lemonade stand and then tomorrow run a successful business, then you need to think again. The seed may be planted but the young entrepreneurs need to be cultivated so that they can realize their strengths & talents, leading to increased self-confidence and allowing them to thrive and grow. The Small Business Administration states that only 50% of businesses survive 5 years and that only 33% survive 10.

Here are 6 things you can do to help kids succeed as entrepreneurs.

1. Help kids realize they have unique talents and skills.

Everyone has the potential to do something great. Finding the things we are great at sometimes takes a lifetime. Exploring with the kids what their talents are, what they are good at and helping them realize that they can use these talents and skills to make a difference will build their self-confidence and is one of the keys to creating an entrepreneurial mindset.

2. Look for problems that need to be solved and work on solving them.

Turning problems into opportunities is what entrepreneurs do. The more you have the kids come up with problems that they can turn into an opportunity, the more they will think about this when they look at the world on a daily basis. If they learn this early, who knows what problems they will solve?

3. Bring in entrepreneurs to share their stories and experiences.

Everyone has a story; including entrepreneurs and they love to share them and help others. Ask some local entrepreneurs if they would like to speak to the kids on how they got started (many had businesses when they were kids) and what they have learned as an entrepreneur. Or better yet, visit your local entrepreneur (try to visit at a non-busy time) and ask them about their business and how they got started.

4. Have kids present an idea they are passionate about.

Communication and presentation skills are vital to the success of an entrepreneur. Without good communication and presentation skills entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to sell to their customers, communicate with their employees and vendors or effectively present to get funding for their business. Have kids start presenting about something they are passionate about – it will make it easier for them and break the ice.

5. Show them that failure is a tool for learning.

Kids today get an award or trophy for almost everything they participate in. This has set today’s kids up for a hard fall. In real life – we don’t always win – it is important to teach kids that failure is okay and that we should learn from our failures. Games are one way that is a safe way to teach that they can learn from failure. Find a game that teaches business concepts and use it as a learning experience.

6. Teach business basics.

Entrepreneurs start a business because they have a passion, skill or talent but they may have no clue of how to run a business. It is important that the passionate entrepreneur knows business basics and/or have a partner who can run the operations of the business. If they don’t have business sense, the business is likely to fail.

To find out more about tools and books to help you get in on the change visit: www.eseedling.com

Lemonade Stand Finished

Are you ready for Lemonade Day? (How to build a Lemonade Stand out of PVC Pipe)

How to Build a Lemonade Stand out of PVC Pipe (in 6 easy steps)

Since Lemonade day is coming up soon and summer is not far behind; I thought it would be helpful to share what I learned when I built my lemonade stand booth that I used a recent trade show. Many of the attendees were interested in how to create the lemonade stand so here are the instructions. I also created a YouTube video which you can watch below.

Supplies you need (for a 6 foot wide by 6 foot tall in front, 7 foot tall in back and 2 foot deep stand):

Lemonade Stand Supplies

  • 35-  2 feet sections of 3/4” pvc pipe (can buy precut at hardware/lumber store)  One of the sections needs to be cut in half (they can cut at the hardware store)
  • 4 –  ¾” coupling connectors
  •  14 – ¾” t-connectors
  • 2 – ¾”  elbows
  • 6 – ¾”  male adapters
  • 6 – ¾” side outlets
  • Sandpaper
  • Material or poster paper for awning
  • 2- Sandbags if need to weigh down for windy location

NOTE: If you are making 4 feet wide – then you can eliminate 4 of the 2 foot sections and 4 of the coupling connectors. Tip: Print this list out and take with you to the store!

Dollar Saving Tip: Approximate cost of PVC pipe and connector parts is: $68.72. You can save quite a bit of money if you have someone who can cut the PVC pipe as it is much less expensive in larger lengths.

Step 1: Sand the ink off of the PVC pieces

  • Use the sandpaper to sand the ink off of the PVC pieces (this step takes the longest). Also you may want to rinse the PVC pipe inside and out since when it is cut – it leaves a residue.

NOTE: the pieces that are being used for the base or the top that the awning will hide do not have to be saved.  The other option is to spray paint the PVC pieces – make sure that you purchase a paint will adhere to the PVC.

 Step 2: Assemble the base

LemonadeStandBase

  • This part goes underneath the table and stabilizes the sides and the top of the stand.
  • To create the base, use 10 sections of PVC pipe, 4 T Connectors, 4 male adapters and 4 side outlets.
  • You will be creating a ladder type base with the PVC pipe- the T Connectors in the middle and the Side Outlets at the corners with Male Connectors screwed in so the opening faces upward.
  • Connect together as shown in photo – be sure to push in where connecting so they don’t fall apart.

Step 3: Assemble the sides up to 2 rungs high

Lemonade Stand Side

  • Each of the sides will go into the sides of the base – the reason for not assembling the sides to full height is that it is easier to put the top on.
  • Each side needs 8 sections of PVC pipe and 4 T Connectors
  • Connect together as shown in photo.
  • Connect each of the sides to the base.

Lemonade stand base and sides

Step 4: Assemble the top

Lemonade Stand top

  • This is probably the hardest part of the assembly.
  • To assemble the top you will use the rest of the remaining parts.
  • The front of the top will have a PVC pipe vertical on each end, with the front outer corners each having a side outlet and a male connector with opening facing down. Then 3 PVC pipes going across the front connected with coupling connectors.
  • The back of the top will have will have a PVC pipe vertical on each end with the outer corners having a T connector, the shorter 1 foot pieces will go be connected up from the T connecter. Then the Elbows are connected at the top of the one foot pieces with 3 – 2 foot sections going across connected by 2 coupling connectors.

Top of Lemonade stand back

  • The front and the back of the top are connected in depth with a 2 foot pipe.
  • If you have an awning or poster for your stand – put it on before attaching the top to the bottom and side portion.
  • Step 5: Connect the top section to the bottom section
    • Use two people to lift the top portion and connect on each side of the bottom portion.

    Step 6: Add the finishing touches

    Lemonade Stand Finished

    • Once it is assembled – you can add your table, signs, decorations and lemonade and you are ready to go!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE HOW TO VIDEO 

Young Entrepreneur Lemonade Stand

There is never a PERFECT Time to Start a Business

girl-lemonade-standStarting a business is a lot like starting a family; if you wait for the time be perfect – it will never happen. They are both huge commitments in time, energy and emotion and that commitment will last for years. When I was 27, I started my first “real business” – an accounting services firm for small to medium businesses. I was fortunate to have an investor and a partner. This allowed starting the business with an actual office space, hiring a firm to develop our brand identity and many other things that a small startup might not afford. Today as I am starting my 2nd “real business”, I am bootstrapping and starting it as I work a full-time day job. So in both cases, how did I know the time was right? I’m not sure you ever know that it is 100% right. When starting a business (as with starting a family) you have to take a leap of faith. You are going into the unknown; the only thing you do know is that many others have gone before you and they survived and many even flourished. One thing I think about when starting a business is the future – what is my goal in 3-5 years and will starting a business help me get there; in both cases my answer was yes.

Here are 6 questions to think about to know if it is the right time for you. 1) What is your plan for 3-5 years and will a business help you get there (in my current business case –my plan is to retire from my day job so that I more freedom and can do what I really love to do) which brings me to #2. 2) Is there something that you have a passion for, that you are good at, that people need (and therefore will pay money for)? It’s not good enough to have a passion – you have to create services and products for others that will solve a problem or you will not make enough money to grow and sustain a business. 3) Do you have the time and energy to commit to working on the business? For example, it’s Sunday morning and here I am writing this blog; I wrote my book on night and weekends (you get the picture). 4) Does your family support you? I like the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”; you cannot start a business without the support of those close to you. 5) Do you have some savings or cash flow that will help fund your start-up costs?  No matter how much you bootstrap your business, there will be costs. In my current business, I’m using a home office and I already had a laptop and printer but you will need a website (if you want to reach a large audience), funds to develop products, funds to publish and edit a book, etc. The amount can vary greatly and if you have a good credit rating you may be able to get a microloan but it does take some amount of money to start your business. 6) Do you know where to find help for the things you are not an expert in? No matter how much we would like to think we can do it all – we can’t! You need to network with other entrepreneurs to learn from them and find out who helps them with services you might need. It’s a bit daunting at first but I have found that entrepreneurs love to share their knowledge! You can also check out your local resources such as the Small Business Development Center, SCORE or Women Business Centers – they all help start-up and growing businesses; sometimes at no cost to you (they are funded by the SBA).

So even though there might not be a PERFECT time to start a business, there is a right time. If you are ready to take the leap of faith and start-up, just be prepared for some of the most exciting and challenging times of your life (sounds like being a parent doesn’t it)!

This blog was written by Julie Ann Wood – author of More Than a Lemonade Stand™ and creator of the Biz Ops Game™; for more information visit www.eseedling.com.

Games Make Learning Fun!

Biz Ops Game

Biz Ops Game

There were 2 things this past week that reminded me how much I love using games as a learning activity. The first one was a webinar that I participated in from Zingerman’s Zing Train program on using Mini-games to train employees. The second was as I was putting the finishing touches on the Biz Ops Game™ (more on that in a bit). The Zing Train webinar reminded me how much fun it is to use games to engage employees when teaching them new concepts or trying to help them achieve a specific company goal. When you get everyone engaged and have fun doing it, it is much easier to have the learning stick and achieve the goal. I know this all too well – as in my graduate studies at UW-Madison I studied how video games are a great tool for teaching. But like any powerful tool that is new to the teacher – they need some time to get comfortable with it and to develop and implement it so that they can help learners achieve the outcome. Good games start with good design (as with any effective lesson). The good thing about games is they don’t have be complicated or extremely sophisticated to achieve the goal they are intended for.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when designing a simple game to achieve learning outcomes. 1) Know what your end goal is – what are the learning outcomes? Make a list of the learning outcomes and decide if a game can cover what’s on the list or if you need to focus on just a few of outcomes in the game. 2) Know what success looks like – what does the student need to be able to do or answer to prove that success was achieved in the game. In addition to the learning outcomes, it is important to have specific measures for success. 3) Create a story for the game- stories have a way of drawing the students in and will create a “safe” atmosphere so they aren’t afraid to fail which will help them to learn faster. In addition to the story, be sure to have a fun name for the game. 4) Decide how the game is played – (turn-based, facilitated, in teams, etc.). Think of games you have played and what made them fun and engaging – use these elements when you design your game. 5) Know how long the game will take (will it be one class period, several class periods or once a week for many weeks). 6) Create a scoreboard – students will have more fun if they compete with one another.  You may also want to have an overall scoreboard with an overall goal that everyone is contributing to. 7) Decide what the rewards will be – everyone likes rewards when they achieve a goal – it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, it can be something as simple as a sticker or badge or can be allowing them to choose the topic for a day, or choose the music at the beginning of class.

To demonstrate how to put these tips into action I’ll come back to the Biz Ops Game™. The game itself is based on a simulation that was used in UW-Madison SBDC Youth Entrepreneur Camp. The simulation was developed for high school aged kids and is longer and more in-depth than what I wanted to use as a short activity for camp or in the classroom. I also felt it could have a lot more learning built into the short time period for the activity so I have built them in. I also turned it into an actual game with a game board and more game elements than the original simulation. The Biz Ops Game™ is facilitated by an instructor and can be played in approximately 90 minutes (or 2 class periods). The learning objectives include learning: 1) how a small business operates 2) how working cooperatively can help increase the chances of business success 3) what roles are necessary to run a business and what each role entails 4) that planning is necessary to run a business 5) how listening to the customer will help you create a better product 5) that quality is as important as quantity and 6) how to create record financial transactions and create a simple financial report. The game is played in teams of 4or 5 who create their own air transportation company where they manufacture and sell paper airplanes. The team who makes the most profit by selling ethically is the winner. In order for them to win, they have to work well as a team, listen to customer specifications and fly their airplanes on a runway. The scoreboard consists of their financial record which includes how much they spend on business costs, quantity sold, sales dollars and their net profit. The teams are rewarded on each of these areas with a badge or sticker for their name tag that they can wear at camp to show others that they were successful. In a one week class the basic business startup and operations concepts are learned and practiced but the possibilities of using the game in the classroom can really serve as a base for additional learning on business operations, teamwork and financial record-keeping. Also, once the game mechanics are mastered, the game can be expanded into the students creating and selling their own products which will allow for much more creativity and fun while learning business operations.

The Biz Ops Game™ is currently being printed and manufactured and should be ready to ship by March 1st. For more information: opt in at www.eseedling.com

Finding Your Passion to Make Meaning

ElementMakeMeaning_edited-1When I start working with kids and adults on entrepreneurship one of the first things I work on is choosing a business idea that they will develop. They usually attend a class or a camp because they want to start a business and so it’s important to keep their excitement level high and help them to move forward. Some students know what they want to do but are not sure if it is the right idea and some students don’t even have an idea – they may have always wanted to start a business. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you can get to choose what you do and how you do it. To help figure this out we start with 3 questions: 1) Do you have passion for your business idea 2) Do you have competence (knowledge & expertise) for your business idea? and 3) Does it make meaning and solve a problem that people will pay for? Let’s break down the 3 questions.

 1)     Do you have a passion for your business idea? If it is something you are passionate about; you will want to spend time on it and it won’t seem like work. Ask yourself, is it something you like to do in your spare time or is it something you daydream about? Running a business is not easy and requires a lot of focus and hard work to make it successful so the more passionate you are about the idea, the more you will stay with it. Finding your passion is just part of it – you will want to go further and ask yourself if your natural ability compliments your passion. Think about a time when you were so immersed in an activity that time flew by and you didn’t even know it. Athletes sometimes refer to this as being “In the Zone”, Mihaly Czikszenthmihalyi refers to as Flow (recently this has been associated with video game players) and Sir Ken Robinson refers to as “The Element” (highly recommended reading for anyone involved in teaching). This YouTube video is an excellent explanation of what The Element is: http://youtu.be/mqOL20t0NF4. If you are having trouble coming up with a business idea, you might want to reflect on what your passions are and when you have been in your “element”.

2)      Do you have competence (knowledge or expertise) for your business idea? People trust others who are have expertise, competency and knowledge. They need to feel like they can trust you and without these things they are probably not going to do business with you. This doesn’t mean that this may not be a good business idea for you; it just means that you may need more training or experience to become competent. If that is your passion and you have innate ability or talent for it – then you will have the motivation to increase your knowledge or competency in that area. I recently attended a seminar where Stephen M.R. Covey, the author of the “The Speed of Trust” spoke. He talked about how trust starts with trusting yourself and that entrepreneurs are usually good at it. He then goes on to explain that both character and competency are important.  Here is a short YouTube video with a good explanation of trust from his leadership perspective: http://youtu.be/XGycgrs1FxY.

 3)     Does your business idea make meaning/ solve a problem? Guy Kawasaki, Author of the “Art of the Start”, states that most companies that set out to make meaning will make money but if they start out to make money, they will usually fail. Here is a short video in which Guy Kawasaki talks (to students at Stanford University) about making meaning in business http://youtu.be/lQs6IpJQWXc. Recently I read “all in startup” by Diana Kander (which I highly recommend for anyone thinking about starting a business). In the book she talks about solving problems. She talks about a minor headache problem vs. a migraine sized problem. Migraine sized problems are the ones people are willing to pay money for. If people won’t pay money for your solution – then it isn’t a big enough problem and most likely not a viable business.

The answers to these 3 questions should help give you a start on finding a business idea that you are passionate about, uses your natural abilities and helps you make meaning in the world. Once your idea is chosen then it is time to get to work and become a business creator! (more on that in a future blog post).

 Here’s a quote from Ken Robinson that I think really describes what Element is:

“When people are in their Element, they connect with something fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose and well-being. Being there provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining who they really are and what they´re meant to be doing with their lives.

– Ken Robinson

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