In parts 1-3 I discussed an overview of the 5 things to successfully teach kids’ entrepreneurship, how to choose a business and how to create a feasible business model; this post will focus on teaching business basics for starting and running a successful business.
In this post, I will review teaching business basics that are necessary to start and run a business.
In the e-seedling youth entrepreneur programs we include teaching business basics since they are essential to being able to start and run a successful business. Our curriculum includes lessons and activities on branding, marketing, sales, basic financials, customer service and production. Each of these areas are necessary to go from the idea stage to the actual starting of the business. Presentation skills are also included since the kids are required to create a poster presentation/pitch for their business. After all, if the entrepreneur can’t communicate the idea effectively it will be impossible for them to succeed. This post focuses on the methods for teaching business basics we use in the More Than a Lemonade Stand Curriculum.
Teaching Business Basics – Branding:
Teaching Business Basics of Branding is important to create the image, emotion and values of the a company. For Branding, we start with a discussion of the brands the students are familiar with. These may include brands such as McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Nike, Instagram, YouTube and personal brands such as LeBron James and Taylor Swift. We have the students view the logos, colors, feelings, and jingles. We explain that branding includes the visual, auditory and emotional perception of a company and that all 3 of these need to work together in harmony to portray the company values and image. Then the students work on their own branding by choosing the colors and images they want to use to portray what they are envisioning.
Teaching Business Basics – Marketing:
Teaching Business Basics of Marketing is important to create the right message in the right way to attract customers. For Marketing, we start by building an ideal customer avatar. The students are guided through an activity to create their ideal customer avatar. These include where they live, how old they are, what their interests are, etc. We explain that the more they know about their customer and how they think and communicate the more they will be able to be empathetic to their needs. Then they can look at what information they need to communicate to their potential customer in order to gain trust and get them to take action. We discuss cost effective ways of communicating this information such as social media, fliers, business cards and websites. The kids then create fliers and business cards for their business.
Teaching Business Basics – Sales:
Teaching Business Basics of Sales is important to communicate value to customer, sales are made and the company becomes profitable. When teaching sales, we discuss what skills are important. We emphasize how important it is to listen to the customer’s need and communicating clearly. It is also important to know what mode of communication the customer prefers. This could be email, face-to-face or some other method such as texting. Then the kids work on a script that they can use when talking with potential customers. We emphasize being professional and being respectful even when the prospect is not interested in their product or service. We also work on the business handshake and good eye contact (and of course a smile)!
Teaching Business Basics – Financial Management and Literacy:
Teaching Business Basics of Financial Management and Literacy are important so you know how the business is doing and if changes need to be made to be profitable. Financials begin with looking at the items they need to start their business and calculating the costs to get their start-up costs. Variable costs are discussed and the kids make a list of what they need to create their product or service. This not only includes the ingredients or items for what they are making but also how much time it takes. We discuss how their time is worth money and that they need to think about how much they want to get paid for the time it takes to make their product or provide their service. For pricing their product or service, we discuss asking potential customers and researching what their competitors charge. Once they have the costs and research the competition, they can calculate a sales price and test it out with potential customers. They also need to figure any ongoing fixed costs they have such as phone or internet. Once they have the sales amount and the costs, they can start to calculate their profit (or loss).
Teaching Business Basics Customer Service:
Teaching Business Basics of Customer Service is important so that customers return for repeat business and they tell their friends and family to do business with you. In today’s world it is more important than ever since in a matter of minutes a person can tell 6,000 of their closest friends about a bad experience via social media. This can really hurt a business so we work on coming up with a customer service mantra. A saying that the company lives by and everyone at the company keeps top of mind to guide them when dealing with the customer. We explain that everyone in the company should know this and everyone is responsible for customer service. We share several top company’s customer service mantras to give them some ideas and then we have them create one of their own. One my favorites is: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney
Teaching Business Basics Production:
Teaching Business Basics of Production is also taught in the e-seedling youth entrepreneur camp since it helps kids to think about how something is made and how important it is to train others to make it so it ends up as the completed item they envisioned. For example, if they have jewelry making business, is there a specific design they are making and if so, do they know how many of what type of bead and where to put the beads so the designs end up the same? And if they need friends or family members to help, how will they know how to make that same design?
The Science Channel has a great series called How It’s Made with the videos available on YouTube. You can choose an episode such as the Chocolate Banana Bread one https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/how-its-made/videos/chocolate-banana-loaves and have them watch the video and then discuss how they would convert this process from an automated one to a manual one that they could do. If you want to add humor with an example of how NOT to make something; the Lucy Show Chocolate Factory is good one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPzLBSBzPI .
Teaching Business Basics Presentation Skills:
Teaching Business Basics of Presentation skills are not only crucial for communicating your business idea but is also highly valuable for life in general. Included in the curriculum is how to create an effective slide deck and not to go up in front of a group and read the slides. We discuss body language, eye contact and the importance of breathing. We use a checklist for creating their business presentation and limit them to 7 slides each. The checklist is available in the More Than a Lemonade Stand Book. We also let them know that just like any skill they learn, it is important to practice and the more they present, the better they will get and the more comfortable they will be.
In part 5 of successfully teaching kids’ entrepreneurship, we’ll discuss how to find entrepreneurs that can speak about real life experience and a fun activity to get the kids thinking about the qualities of the ultimate entrepreneur.
If you missed any of the first 3 parts of the series, 5 things to successfully teach kids’ entrepreneurship, you can view them on the eseedling blog. If you would like to learn more about our youth entrepreneurship curriculum visit eseedling.com. The author Julie Ann Wood is the Chief Cultivator at E-seedling, LLC and has been teaching youth entrepreneurs and helping teachers and organizations implement youth entrepreneurship since 2008. To learn more visit us on our website at eseedling.com.