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Have you signed your kids up for camp?

CampsCamp is one my favorite memories from when I was a kid.  I loved staying in a tent or cabin, slurping slushies, singing fun songs around the campfire and learning all kinds of new things by experiencing them first hand.  I loved it so much I became a 4-H camp counselor at age 16, volunteered many times at my sons’ Boy Scout camps and now I am so fortunate to direct and teach youth entrepreneur camps.

Camps are a great way for kids to experience and learn things they may not have the opportunity to in school.  What is interesting to me is that the kids who may not do well in school (sitting at a desk all day) flourish in a camp environment.  Year after year, I see kids come in on Monday morning not showing much self-confidence and by Friday when they are presenting an idea they are passionate about they are glowing with confidence. 

The following is from the American Camp Association Website which pretty much sums up the benefits of camp:

At camp, when children make new friends, explore the world around them, and learn that “I can” is much more powerful than “I can’t”, magic happens. In an environment created just for them, children learn real life skills, develop self-esteem, and gain a sense of independence and community. Whether children are playing, exploring nature, conquering new heights, or becoming part of a camp family, they are creating memories that will last a lifetime – See more at: http://www.acacamps.org/campers-families/because-camp#sthash.44KAY3o4.dpuf

Since school is either out or soon to be out, it’s time to find a camp for your child(ren).  There are camps of every subject possible so there is bound to be something that they are interested in.  Many camps are already full but with some searching you will most likely find something that fits.  That’s what I really like about directing and teaching at Youth Entrepreneur Camps; the business each camper chooses to create takes into account their strengths, interests and talents so it fits everyone!

Since the UW-Madison SBDC Youth Entrepreneur Camp (where I have been the director for the past 8 years) is full and there is a long wait list, I have decided to add an E-Seedling Youth Entrepreneur Camp July 18-21 in Madison.  It is a 4 day (Mon-Thurs) commuter day camp for ages 10-14 (there will be breakouts based on age groups).  It is limited to 16 kids (8:1 instructor ratio) so register now before it’s full!  To find out more about the camp and to register, Click here!

Hope this is the year to start making memories and having fun at summer camp!

Entrepreneur Theatre Life Skills

5 Life Skills that Entrepreneurship and Theater Teach

Entrepreneur Theatre Life Skills

Entrepreneur & Theater = Life Skills

Last week I finished directing a production of Fame Jr with my son Ryan at our local community theater group. As I reflect back on the experience, I realize that both entrepreneurship and theater have a lot in common  when it comes to the life skills they teach.  Here are 5 life skills, that I came up with, that both entrepreneurship and theater teach.

  1. Passion and Natural Talents: Entrepreneurship is all about finding what you love to do and using it to solve problems and make a difference. Musical Theater kids have a passion for acting, dancing, singing or all 3 and they are using their natural talent to make a difference in people’s lives by taking their minds off of the everyday issues even if it is only for an hour or two.
  2. Time Management: Running a business takes an enormous amount of time and it requires good time management skills to make sure homework & chores are done, other commitments are completed and that there is still time to work on a business. Ditto for theater; it is a huge time commitment and it requires time management to get it all done.
  3. Commitment: Being an entrepreneur requires commitment to working on your business idea even when it gets tough. A commitment to your solution or cause will help you make it through but in order for it to work in the long run; you must be committed to it. Again theater is a commitment, it takes a lot of hours to put on a quality production. There is always waiting at rehearsal for your scene; you must be committed to the role you accept.
  4. Communication: Entrepreneurs must be able to communicate clearly what their product or service is and what the benefits are in order to sell to their customer. You must also be able to communicate with partners and mentors so they can help you grow your business. Whether you are on stage in the cast or off stage in the production staff, you must be able to communicate with the audience to get your message across and with each other to create a successful performance.
  5. Teamwork: Entrepreneurs cannot do it alone; they need to use their strengths in the most effective ways in order to grow their business without being overwhelmed by everything that has to be done. You need to find a team that can fill in where you aren’t strong to help you accomplish what needs to be done. A good theater performance is the ultimate team-based business model. It requires each person to know their role, focus on it and complete it when it needs to be done. There is a high level of trust that develops in a theater group and it becomes almost like a second family.

I am sure there are more life skills that both entrepreneurship and theater teach and so I would love to hear from you in the comments (or you can email me at juliewood@eseedling.com): Which life skills do you feel are taught in entrepreneurship and theater or another activity that you are involved with?

As always, please feel free to contact me at juliewood@eseedling.com or complete the contact us form on www.eseedling.com .  And as we say in theater, hope to see you at the next auditions!

 

 

 

 

videos for young entrepreneurs

My Fave 5 Videos for teaching Young Entrepreneurs

videos for young entrepreneurs

movie theatre marquee

Everyone loves a good video, especially kids!  It’s always amazing to me that they can be somewhat loud and rambunctious and then a video comes on and voila; it’s like magic – they are mesmerized by the world of video, they pay attention and soak it in! That is why when I teach young entrepreneurs (adults seem to like them too), I interweave video with teaching and activities to make for a fun and effective learning environment.  Since I’m getting ready for the summer camp season, I thought I would share my top 5 videos for teaching young entrepreneurs.

 

  1. Entrepreneurs Can Change the World by Grasshopper, The Entrepreneurs Phone Company. (grasshopper.com) https://youtu.be/T6MhAwQ64c0 This video is a great introduction for a discussion on what an entrepreneur is, what they do and how they can make a difference.
  2. Channel One News Teen Entrepreneurs Wrap Up from Channelone.com. https://youtu.be/11bOrQG3xMw . This video is a great intro into the students choosing their own business idea.  It talks about passion, other businesses and the benefits of starting a business as a young entrepreneur.  Channel One News has lots of great information for teens and teachers can use many of the episodes as a fun classroom discussion starter.
  3. Saturday Night Live’s Pizza Eater Video with Melissa McCarthy. http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/pizza-business/n35040 Melissa McCarthy goes to the bank to get a loan for her new business. This humorous video works great as an example for learning the business model canvas.  In addition to being funny it shows that there is one huge flaw in her business idea (how to make revenue). After watching the video, work on the business model canvas as a group and fill in the building blocks based on the pizza eater business.  Here’s more information on the business model canvas if you are not familiar with it: http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas/bmc
  4. Lemonaire: Youngest Entrepreneur from Umpqua Bank https://youtu.be/5d2V1LYNBeE .This is my all-time favorite video that I use when teaching young entrepreneurs. It was created by Umpqua Bank as a marketing video but includes so many lessons for teaching young entrepreneurs. It works great to use at the beginning of running a team lemonade stand. It’s great to use for a discussion of a business model, how to get money, how to plan and what can happens when things don’t go as planned.
  5. The Home Run from Liberty Mutual (the responsibility project) https://youtu.be/C-3QCgVDQGw . This is a true story of a girl’s baseball team and what happens with the team to win the game. It is a great example of ethics and sportsmanship and works well to start a discussion on business ethics and rules.
  6. BONUS: Life After Death by Powerpoint 2012 by Don McMillan https://youtu.be/MjcO2ExtHso. This is a humorous video is a great example of what not to do in Powerpoint.  If the kids are going to do a presentation this will start a discussion on what you should do. The reason this is not in my top 5 is that it does include the word “hell” and it might not be appropriate for younger kids.

Now it’s your turn – I would love to hear what your favorite videos for teaching young entrepreneurs!  Please share and comment below. 

For more resources on teaching young entrepreneurs visit eseedling.com

What is the Biz Ops Game?

I often get asked what exactly is the Biz Ops Game?  Here is a short video to explain what it is, how it works and what it teaches.

 

 

Money Business Entrepreneur

There is more than one way to become a Billionaire Entrepreneur

Money Business Entrepreneur

More than one way to Spell Money And Business

In today’s blog post I wanted to share a couple of infographics. The first one features the”10 Youngest Billionaires of Our Time: How Did They Do it?shared with me by one of my readers (thanks Madeline). These young billionaires have done some amazing things and most of us have been affected in one or another by what they have achieved (I mean, who has not been affected by Facebook or what it has done to change social media). You may notice that many of these young billionaires did have an advantage and that in most cases is family money or the means to attend a very prestigious school (could be money could be intelligence) so the question begs – do you have to have that advantage to become a billionaire? Well, I wondered this as I don’t have either (family money or the means to attend Harvard, Stanford, or MIT) and of course who wouldn’t like to become a Billionaire Entrepreneur (or at least a Millionaire)!

So I did a little digging and the good news is there is hope for anyone who wants to work hard, take risks and persevere to become a billionaire entrepreneur!  Sara Blakely who invented Spanx and was added to the billionaire list in 2013, (from as far as I can tell) she was an everyday person who attended a public high school and a State university. She came up with an idea that she believed in. She worked long and hard to research and develop the idea and her entrepreneur road wasn’t easy but she persevered and as we know today the rewards were great. Then I found another infographic that shows what self-made billionaires have in common. The most well-known (for me anyway) was Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, who was an orphan, was brought up by relatives on the South Side of Chicago, was not born into money and did not have a college education. He learned computer programming on his own and one of his first jobs had to create a database. He then started Oracle databases, one of the most used database in the world.

Okay so some of the becoming a billionaire usually does require a bit of luck, whether it is being in the right place at the right time, making the right contact or having family money to back you up, but you won’t get there without hard work, perseverance, taking risks and belief in your idea. So get going on developing your idea and developing yourself as an entrepreneur (you are not getting any younger)!

Sources: 10 Youngest Billionaire Infographic: Masters-in-Accounting.org; Sara Blakely story: spanx.com; Self-made billionaires’ infographic; entrepreneur.com; Larry Ellison story: businessinsider.com.

If you would like to learn more about entrepreneurship education and cultivating tomorrow’s entrepreneurs – subscribe to my e-newsletter and visit my website at www.eseedling.com.

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/

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.

Are you Listening?

 

are you listening

 

I love to learn, especially about entrepreneurship and small business! I read book after book on the subject; I don’t usually read fiction unless it’s something like “All in Startup” which is fiction inside non-fiction (more on that in a later post). I attend professional development seminars on the subject and participate in frequent webinars. So when I exhibited at the American Camp Association Tri-State Conference last week one of my main goals was to learn. Learn if they were the right customer for my products, learn what their needs were, what problems they have that need solving and learn what ideas they had for product improvement and development. Having those goals in mind before even attending the show put me in the mindset to listen to the persons who visited my lemonade stand booth and wow did I learn!

 

Here are 3 big product ideas that I learned from the attendees: 1) They would like a Spanish version of the Biz Ops Game, 2) They would like the Biz Ops Game adapted for Camps (i.e. a Camp Ops Game) to train their staff, and 3) They would like to buy the lemonade stand that I made out of PVC pipe. Each of these ideas is very doable and without the time of developing brand new products and so they are now on my list. I also learned that the Biz Ops Game makes a great rainy day activity for camps; now I have a new way to sell the game. I also learned that e-seedling is confusing to the camp audience – many visitors asked if I had something to do with gardening. If you are going to be clever with a name – you need to think about your audience and make sure it’s clear. So I learned how to explain exactly what E-seedling does; empowers youth through entrepreneurship (hence the e is for entrepreneur and seedling is the youth) and that the More Than a Lemonade Stand book is a do it yourself youth entrepreneur curriculum that can be implement as a whole or individual activities (oh and don’t bring that much candy to give away unless you want to bring it home).

 

I also learned some tips from the other exhibitors: 1) have an information sheet for visitors to take with them (I was directing them to my website), and 2) put the game sheets in a binder so they aren’t accidentally walked off with.

 

It’s amazing how much you can learn just by listening to others and yourself! Being a Covey Facilitator for the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People I have heard this quote many times and agree that it is true. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

 

Now I ask; are you listening?

What’s Your Customer Mantra?

 

We love our customers

Every week should be customer service week

In 1984 the International Customer Service Association (ICSA), which since merged with PACE, created and launched National Customer Service Week™. On October 8, 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed Presidential Proclamation 6485 establishing the first week of October as National Customer Service Week™. (Source: http://www.paceassociation.com/p/cm/ld/fid=457).  Don’t you think that every week should be customer service week?

Who do you prefer to do business with?

You might be wondering why I’m touching on this subject today –let’s just say that I’ve had a mixture of good and bad customer service in the past week. I started off my week with a not so good customer experience (but fortunately had several good ones during the week). It started out with my working on a tradeshow that I am attending an upcoming in another state (remain unnamed). I needed to complete the tax registration for collecting sales tax in that state so I completed the form, the best I could. I still had a few questions so I called their hotline number and found out they aren’t open on weekends (open Mon-Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm) – okay I can accept that. Monday morning I called right at 8:30 am – closed due to President’s day (are state offices supposed to be closed?!). Tuesday morning again I called right at 8:30 am – closed due to inclement weather (ugh)! Wednesday morning again I called right at 8:30 am – 3 minute wait time – finally I get a person who didn’t sound thrilled to be there when she answered the phone. I explained the situation and she told me the answers were in the instructions for the form and that she couldn’t go through the entire form with me. I read the instructions no less than 5 times and I only had 4 questions!! Anyway, she finally did answer my 4 questions and I sent off my form; crossing my fingers that the form is filled out correctly and that I will get my tax registration in time for the show. I’m sure all of you have had experiences like this. They are frustrating but are so easily avoided by some simple customer service procedures and processes put into place. So if you had a choice, is this someone you would like to do business with?

How can companies improve their customer service?

Since Customer service ranks as the #1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company – it is definitely important for companies to pay attention to their customer service. (Source: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/10/customer-service-stats-55-of-consumers-would-pay-more-for-a-better-service-experience.html.) I actually think customer service is so important to creating a successful business that we actually include a whole section on customer service in our Youth Entrepreneur Camp curriculum. Here are some of things we teach the kids at the camp but can are applicable to any business.

1)    Everyone is responsible for customer service. This could be the person preparing the materials, answering the phone or setting up the room. It doesn’t have to be someone in direct contact with the customer – the important thing to note is the culture needs to focus on the customer and make sure everyone understands how their role touches the customer. You need to have a plan for dealing with customers (good and bad) and make sure it is communicated throughout the organization. You may want to create a customer service mantra – a short saying (such as Disney’s “Be Our Guest”) which is an easy way to infuse the culture into the organization. The Ritz Carlton Hotel has always been known for an exceptional customer experience; this story about the Ritz Carlton Hotel Amelia Island goes above and beyond: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038.html

2)    First Impressions are crucial – you have a short time to make a first impression, so figure out the first thing you are going to do (how you will greet them, what your website will say about you, what your social media sites will contain), document them and train employees on them.

3)    Actively listen to the customer and communicate that to your team. The person directly communicating with the customer needs to listen to the customer and makes sure they communicate their requests to the rest of the team (If the team doesn’t know they can’t help).

4)    Have clear instructions that the customer can find easily. Okay I added this one after my experiences this past week. I neglected to say that I had some wonderful customer experiences this past week. Those included clear instructions on their websites with easy to find answers – their staff followed up quickly, answered my questions (pleasantly I might add) so that I could accomplish what I came to their business for. This certainly makes a world of difference. They definitely have my return business!

Now I challenge you to think of a customer mantra for your business and share.