Published on 2012/03/30

Entrepreneurship: Framing The Big Picture

Entrepreneurship: Framing The Big Picture
As every oak tree starts as an acorn, providing K-12 students with hands-on experience in business will encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship. Photo by Simon Harvey

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about business start ups, the economy and how we are going to get out of this recession. It is nothing new that there is a recession, the trade cycle tells us this with the line for GDP going up (boom) and then down (recession) and this can be found in every business and economic textbook out there. The only difference is that it is a world recession and everyone is trying to figure out how to get their economy growing. Let’s put things in context first and work our way back to the solution.

The big picture

Imagine you are going to the local mall and you see a GAP, Quiksilver, Disney Store, Target etc. All these stores are trying to sell you products in order to make a profit in order to survive. If the store doesn’t sell much, staff are cut and the business may go into foreclosure. On opening their business they must have stock which they may have made themselves or imported from foreign manufacturers.  In order to sell they must have the right products to sell at the right price at the right time in order to be successful. Not only should the store be looking at the price but the quality of the product, the level of customer service, product knowledge etc.

Now change those stores for different countries in the malls. Each business/country needs to sell its products and if it doesn’t sell its products, the economy doesn’t grow, which means job cuts etc…..

There are lots of students graduating from college every year and therefore a lot of them are unemployed. I have two thoughts on this. Firstly, the graduates are applying for jobs with already established companies who are busy restructuring and cost cutting and so there are very few jobs to go around and realistically very few graduates will get employed.

I regularly look on Craigslist.com and there are plenty of jobs being advertised out there but no one seems to want these as candidates perceive these jobs to be beneath them. They may not be the greatest jobs but actually these are the best jobs to start with as you can learn lots of different skills that can be used in the world of business. It also gives you a sense of perspective and make you realize that you do not want to do this type of job ever again or potentially give you an idea for something for a business.

People often forget that the world of business is around them. Everywhere you look, money has been made out of what you see. For example, if the grass in your local park has been cut, a service has been paid for. The clothes we wear have been manufactured. The road we walk on has been constructed and all the raw materials etc have had to be mined, manufactures or produced to be used.

Now back to the big picture. With regards the economy and the big picture, the big companies are suffering and therefore not hiring. Therefore we need to look elsewhere for employment and potential prosperity. We should be looking at new businesses that grow in big businesses – most businesses on the NYSE, Nasdaq etc all started small and grew.

Entrepreneurship is quite the buzzword at the moment and I feel it is true that everyone has an idea that they could make money / living out of and be successful. My idea came to me when I was teaching and I am now pursuing it. I have realized a couple of things along the way and I think these are some of the things that you should consider:

  • You need to be passionate about your idea as YOU are the idea.
  • You need to know who is out there and learn about your competition. Competition is good and so don’t be scared of it, and if it gets tough concentrate on your unique selling point.
  • You need to have determination because there will be a lot of mistakes and setbacks.
  • There are a lot of people who will try and discourage you from going into business, but hold firm. If you firmly believe in your idea and work smart , you will succeed.
  • There are some lousy products out there which have been made into a success and therefore it is a matter of determination, perseverance and staying focused.
  • If money is an issue, be prepared to make sacrifices. Sell some of your belongings, get that extra job to make money, research small business loan opportunities.
  • Take small steps, don’t be in a hurry to get there, the more solid your foundation, the more likely you will be a success.
  • Embrace change.
  • Constantly challenge your idea. If you don’t, your potential customers will, and decide to spend their money elsewhere.
  • Research – you must know your stuff.

So in schools, what would I like to see?

I would like to see every business class running some type of enterprise whether it be selling hot dogs and sodas at football games, organizing graduation dances, car washes, textbook exchanges etc. All the skills required to run these programs are the basics for any business. I would like to see a standard syllabus across the country because there are too many states and districts doing their own thing and therefore there is very little base knowledge for all students. I recently went to a California Business Education Conference and found that the Education system overall is too focused on particular areas as opposed to having a general and solid base to work from.

In conclusion new businesses should be encouraged to be set up. Niches would be spotted which embraces change and a path for moving forward. The business grows and employees are needed. They spend money in the economy which means more demand for products, which means more jobs etc. Products can then be sold worldwide meaning that the US are now selling more than they are buying and therefore the economy will grow which is every politicians dream whilst collecting your taxes.

Keep in mind, every grand oak tree started as a tiny acorn.

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Readers Comments

Paul Maurice 2012/03/30 at 11:17 am

This makes sense! So many schools already run money-making services in one way or another. You mention all the sales that surround weekly football games.

Why not let students manage the stock, the prices, the sales and the restocking? If ever there was a chance for some real-world experience, there it is!

    paul 2012/03/30 at 8:54 pm

    One of the tasks for my business studies students is to run stalls at christmas, easter and summer fayres when the Parents and Friends of the school raise money for the school. The stalls include selling candy, sports challenges, stationary shops etc. They are responsible for the stock, permission required, planning, advertising etc. If they are a success it is down to them and if it a failure it is down to them. I think all schools should do this and it should become compulsory for at least one year group a year. The entrepreneurs tend to be the unassuming ones!!!

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