Today I finished up a series of classes called "A Business of Our Own" with a grade 6 class in Glenora school. The program is provided by Junior Achievement and delivered by volunteers like myself. The idea is for the kids to plan, build and operate their own business within their school. It comes completely from their own ideas and I act only as a consultant and guide.
I worked with this class over a period of 5 weeks. Their business was a snack stand to be operated during a book sale at their school. They borrowed $200 from a class fund they had as their initial investment. They divided themselves into groups that would be responsible for different parts of the business and they went to work.
They experienced all of the phases a new business would go through. The initial excitement, the pie-in-the-sky ideas, the slap of reality, the realistic business plan that follows the slap, the vision of a common goal, the squabbling on how to reach that goal, the productivity that comes from teamwork and finally the reward of seeing a functioning and very successful business in the end. Most entrepreneurs go through these stages over the course of several months, if not years. This group of kids dealt with it in a few weeks.
They saw a gross income of over $500 from the $200 investment. That is a 150% return on investment for a month of work! If only we could see that kind of return in our own businesses on a regular basis.
If there is one thing I see in them and wish I could give to every entrepreneur I know, it is their lack of fear. Granted, they were working in a safe environment, (if they lost money it wouldn't mean they would have to pay it back out of their pocket) but it was amazing to watch how they would make decisions when they didn't have fear of failure blinding them.
These kids had no business knowledge but that would not stop them. They looked at what they had to do, asked questions and found ways to learn the things they needed to know. They used creativity and curiosity to find ways to make their business work.
Personally, I will strive to have that same attitude when I face business decisions in areas I am not so skilled in. Like those kids, I will set the fear aside so that it doesn't block my view. Then look around for the answer. If it isn't there in the open, I will find creative ways to dig for it. Once I find it, I will implement it confidently. Operating outside of fear can lead only to progress. An earlier article I wrote asks the question, "What would you do if your weren't afraid?" I think the kids in that class were a living answer to that.
Do the same for yourself! Just try it! I know fear will always be there, especially in the early stages of business, but try ignoring it. Don't let it be a factor! Focus on removing fear from situations you face as you build your business. See the clear paths that appear when you remove that hindering emotion. Then walk down those paths confidently knowing that fear did not influence you or hold you back.
In the end, all of the profits they created were donated to the Stollery Children's Hospital, providing yet another good example for this world to look at.
So thank you to the grade 6 class of Glenora school for being a great example to the business world in many ways. If any of you from the class are reading this, I sincerely hope you learned something valuable that will help you in the future. Please know that I have learned some very valuable lessons from all of you as well.