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When Adam Toren told me how he and his younger brother, Matthew, saved their money to start their first business in high school, there was a resounding familiarity.  They came from a family who understood the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit and they wanted the two young boys to take advantage of the opportunities before them.

I can only trace my lineage back four generations when my 3 times great grandparents immigrated to the US.  They were the typical story of immigrants who sacrificed everything they had and knew in the old country for a better life in America.  As I learned more about my relatives through records and stories, I quickly began to see a connection to entrepreneurship.  I had grandfathers who owned dry good stores, auto dealerships, mortuaries, and one who manufactured men’s clothing.  Even my father was a serial entrepreneur who started a successful genetic engineering company (despite knowing nothing about science.)  Everyone I traced back had a hand in business ownership.

Maybe it was coincidence that I came from an entrepreneurial family – the Land of Opportunity lending itself to people like my grandfathers who were able to own a business.  Or maybe it was environmental – the entrepreneurial spirit encouraged and fostered over 130 years.  The current generations of my family – aunts, uncles, cousins have all adopted entrepreneurship as livelihoods as well.  (My sister writes children’s books.)

hayley book 5

With their positive early experiences in entrepreneurship, Adam and Matthew developed Kidpreneurs in 2007 to motivate other young kids to run their own businesses.  They knew what it had done for them and they knew what was missing in school to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.  My own motivation for creating Biz in a Boxx was to motivate and teach my own daughter entrepreneurship so that as an adult, she didn’t have to feel dependent upon anyone for her financial well-being. Biz in a Boxx was designed to empower her the same way I was when my father guided me towards starting my first business while I was in college.

So how do you build an entrepreneurial powerhouse?  You add fuel to the fire.

1.  Competition

Before meeting the Toren brothers we were competitors who occupied the youth entrepreneurship space.  It made sense for us to compete in the classic business sense, but not so much in reality.  The US has somewhat lost its sense of what made it so great and wealthy.  And with standardize testing and assessments in school, today’s youth don’t have opportunities to experience “extra curricular” classes such as entrepreneurship.  Instead of competing against one another, Biz in a Boxx and Kidpreneurs could become allies.

2.  Synergy

The Toren’s and I had the same mission to take what we know and have experienced and teach real-world entrepreneurship. We have all been in the space a long time and know of the challenges and opportunities.  Three heads were better than one.

3.  Skill Sets

We also found out that we had complimentary skill sets.  The Toren’s mastered online marketing and built a vast network of contacts while I continued to create innovative programs based on deficiencies seen in academics.  Combined, we could grow stronger and faster through a partnership.

4.  Vision

Our vision for how we see the youth entrepreneurship market growing is on spot with one another and we all want to be an integral part in guiding the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

5.  Willingness

We’ve all sat in meetings with people who have great ideas for a fruitful partnership.  People don’t seem to be short of ideas.  It’s actually implementing those ideas that is tough.  Dream, but put those dreams into a goal with a timeline that’s realistic.  And hold each other accountable.

6.  Entrepreneurial Spirit

Everyone involved in the building of your powerhouse has to really want to become a powerhouse.  It’s not enough to simply dream of your idea coming to be but actually working hard to turn that idea into something powerful.  It’s about the willingness to take risks, accepting failure as a learning opportunity, solving problems that arise and innovating new solutions.  If your powerhouse of partners lack the entrepreneurial spirit, it’s going to be a long, lonely journey.

Be sure to check out the Biz in a Boxx website for more information about us and Kidpreneurs.

 

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The following is written for kids (since we’re in the business of youth entrepreneurship.) If you happen to be an older kid, say old enough to rent a car in all 50 states, you may still find the Engineering Design Process (below) helpful.

So you want to start a business but you’re still hung up on the idea for just the right product or service to sell?  There are  two primary ways you can go about developing an idea.  One way is to find an opportunity to sell something that is already made. This might include buying candy wholesale (at a cheaper price) and selling it at a higher retail price.  Another way is to discover a problem and change an existing product or service into something new (or invent something completely new.)  This could be selling a healthier lemonade drink or even creating a new app with a function that has not been done before.

Let’s take a closer look.

Maybe you want to start a car washing business but you also want to maximize your sales. You find an inexpensive soap that you can buy from the manufacturer (the company that makes the soap) at a really good price. Even though your business is car washing, you can also sell the customer the soap so he can use it to wash his car when you’re not there.  Or maybe you put on your science cap and develop a soap for cars that works really well. You bottle it, add a label and sell it along with a “free” car wash at a certain price.

Figuring out what you are going to sell is the basis for your business.  Once you have the basic idea for a product or service, you can use the Engineering Design Process (EDP) to develop it.  The EDP is a plan engineers use when they develop a product. It looks like this.

 

edp

 

 
What’s the Problem?

Products and services are designed to solve problems. For example, your parents might not have enough time to wash their car and hiring someone to do it helps solve their problem of having a limited amount of time. What are some problems people might have?  What are some ways you can solve those problems with a product or service?

Research & Brainstorm Ideas

If you’re still thinking of a great business idea, start brainstorming. Look at the problems people might have and see if the solution is in something that interests you. If you like to cook, maybe you can make delicious baked goods and offer free delivery.  Take some time to research other products and services similar to your ideas.  What else is out there and how to do they solve problems? Can you do it better?

Solve the Problem

Once you have an idea for a product or service, develop it. Look at all of the ways your new product or service can solve problems. Make sure you take into account any limitations you might encounter. For instance, say you want to run a lemonade stand at your local park but your city government won’t let you without a license.  Do you start your lemonade business in your driveway, earn enough profit and then purchase a license to sell lemonade at the park?  Or do you find other ways in which you can sell your lemonade without restrictions or limitations?

Create a Prototype

Now it’s time to create a prototype. If you’re creating a new product, start assembling a prototype of what it will look like and what it will do. If you’re creating a new service, start organizing how you will perform the service.  You can even create an algorithm of the ways you will execute your service.

Test & Evaluate

Even though your idea is great, it’s a good idea to test and evaluate how your product or service will not only work, but will meet the demands of potential customers. Ask friends and family to test your product or service and see if it helps solve their problems. Test different prices to see what they might pay for your product or service and how often they might buy it.  Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean people want to pay to have it.

Redesign

What if your product or service does not work the way you thought it would?  What if people like your idea but they don’t think it does enough to solve their problems?  If your product or service is not quite ready for the marketplace, go back a few steps and work out any kinks.  This is your opportunity to redesign your idea so that it’s the best it can be.

Try, Try Again

Most products and services aren’t perfect from the start.  You can always backtrack through the EDP steps.  (That;s why it’s circular.)  As you develop your idea and run your new business, you will be able to understand what your customers want.  You can make necessary adjustments at any time.  Starting a business takes practice but it’s full of great opportunities if you persevere.

To find out how to fully develop your business, visit us at www.BizinaBoxx.com.

 

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Entrepreneurship for kids

 

An afternoon of running a lemonade stand is full of valuable learning opportunities.  The iconic childhood activity should be more than time spent in the hot summer sun occupying time.  Take advantage of teaching your kids the following business lessons that will help make their lemonade stands stand out.

Everything Has a Cost

Here at Biz in a Boxx, we’ve spent countless hours teaching kids all about running lemonade stands and the primary concept they have a hard time figuring out is that everything has a cost.  While they see your pantry stocked with sugar, lemon juice and cups, they can’t fathom that you once purchased the items at the store (and cost you money to buy.)  It would be great if businesses could get their resources for free but we all know it doesn’t work that way.

Take advantage of the leaning opportunity by charging your kids for the resources they use.  If they use a pound of sugar, consider charging them $1 for it.  If your kids are older, you can have them apply their math skills to determining a cost for each unit.  For example, if you have 30 plastic cups on hand that cost you $3, let your kids determine that each cup costs $.10.  You can also invest in their lemonade business and give them a lump sum to purchase the ingredients they need.  Make sure they repay you when the day is done so that they see just how much profit they have made.

It’s Not Always About Them

Young kids still have a tendency to create a lemonade formula that appeals to their palette rather than something others might like better.  This includes both taste and color.  We’ve seen kids make everything from extremely sour brown lemonade to a fruity, sweet, green lemonade.  It’s a good opportunity to teach them about sensory science and one way they can see others’ likes and dislikes is by creating a survey.

Encourage your kids to make several lemonade formulas for others to sample.  They can gather family and friends to taste each one while asking and recording data such as taste, color, how the lemonade could taste better and whether or not the person would buy it (and for how much.)  They can even collect data by age to know whether certain formulas appeal more to kids versus adults.  As your kids create their surveys you can remind them that their goal is to sell lemonade and in order to do that their product must appeal to their customers.

Kids can be creative with their formulas as well.  There’s the usual ingredients of lemons, lemon juice and sugar can be enhanced with berries, flavored gelatin, carbonated water and even citric acid.  Food coloring will help enhance the appeal.

Signage

Ugh, the dreaded signs.  We’ve all seen them – those small signs with minuscule writing posted just feet away from the stand that give the person driving by absolutely no time to notice it, make a decision to stop and buy a cup of lemonade.  They’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The key is to make simple signs with directional arrows leading people to the stand.  Since there’s little time to grab someone’s attention and convince them to go out of their way to spot and buy, signage needs to be simple, to the point and plentiful.  At the actual lemonade stand the signage can have much more description of what is being offered.

Try the following activity with your kids to drive home the concept of where to place signs.

Susie Map

 
Located in her driveway, Susie’s stand is well off the beaten path.  If Susie made only two signs to advertise her lemonade stand, where should she place them (based on the information provided)?  Pick two places by marking an “X” in a square that reads “lemonade”.  What if Susie made four signs?

Even if your kids are selling lemonade in the driveway, have them make a map of their neighborhood so they can plot where to put them for maximum exposure.  This exercise in strategic planning will go a long way towards making their stand successful.

What Kids Get

Running a lemonade stand is a great way to introduce business concepts to kids at a young age and you’ll find that many are actually good at it.  This rather benign activity is the introduction to the entrepreneurial mindset that teaches them many valuable lessons, from money management to strategic planning and creativity.  If your kids take a shine to entrepreneurship, be sure to pick up a Biz in Boxx to help them put together their next venture.  It’s not only age-appropriate, but full if information and guidance as they practice these new skill sets.

 

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girls small

The US economy not only thrives on small businesses but it survives because of them.  Entrepreneurship not only feeds the economy and strengthens communities, it fuels innovations and provides financial stability.

The skills sets in running a business are plentiful and those who own their own business can attest to the positive benefits gained through experience.  When a child learns business acumen at a young age he or she is placed light years ahead of those who do not have the opportunity to learn.

Leadership

Business ownership requires leadership, allowing young entrepreneurs to begin sharpening this skill.  How well can they manage and motivate others to be productive?  Can they spot opportunities, be comfortable with taking calculated risks and lead their team through implementation of new ideas?

Problem Solving Skills

Math isn’t the only way kids learn to solve problems.  Entrepreneurs are problem solvers.  Businesses are full of problems just waiting for a solution and entrepreneurs thrive on finding creative ways to put out fires.

Decision-Making Skills

Running a business provides young entrepreneurs with the ability to learn how to make thoughtful decisions by seeing the cause and effect of their efforts.  Trial and error is a vital component of business ownership.  Kids also learn that failure happens and one just needs to get back on the horse and try again.

Communication Skills

Building self esteem is an intrinsic reward for a young entrepreneur.  Through a heightened sense of self, young entrepreneurs are better able to improve their communication skills simply by learning how to connect with their customers.

Networking

Sure, many kids today are fairly proficient in online social networking, but what about building solid face-to-face relationships?  How about stepping out of comfort zones and out from behind computer screens to engage with others.  I mean truly engage, such as active listening and finding ways to help others professionally.

Earning a Living

For most kids, financial literacy is left up to parents to teach.  While the average student knows how to prove a right angle, figuring out how to sustain oneself financially over the long run isn’t necessarily knowledge your kid is going to get in school.  Running a business at a young age teaches a kid that hard work pays, how to budget money, how to make a profit and how to save for future opportunities.

Creativity

Entrepreneurship is about innovation and finding new ways to solve problems.  When you kid is empowered through ownership they have a chance to express their creativity freely through trial and error.

Accountability

Young entrepreneurs learn early on the importance of being held accountable to their customers.  This also transfer over to other parts of their lives where they learn there are rewards for being responsible.

Learning how to run a business isn’t something you learn overnight.  It’s similar to riding a bike and takes practice.  Experiencing entrepreneurship at a young age gives kids an advantage and sets them apart from their peers as they mature.

Want to expose your kid to the world of entrepreneurship?  Try Biz in a Boxx.  It’s the only program of its kind that guides kids through starting their own business while learning the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

 

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Can Schools Teach Entrepreneurship?

May 1, 2014

Our friends over at Top Colleges Online sent us this infographic.  Do you think entrepreneurship or even instilling the entrepreneurial mindset can be taught?   Source: TopCollegesOnline.org

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How to Instill the Entrepreneurial Spirit

March 6, 2014

For the first 12 years of my daughter’s life she wanted to be a singer, dancer and teacher.  I had no idea how she came up with all three career choices, but I figured she’d likely outgrow the idea at some point.  And she did. By the latter half of her 12th year of life, […]

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The Youth Transition: From Grades to Workforce

March 4, 2014

For the past 18 years or so of your life, your number one job is doing well in school.  You hear it all the time – get good grades, get into a good college and you’ll get a good job.  It’s a simple recipe heard all too often. What happens between high school and the […]

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Financial Literacy: Who Needs It and Who Gets It?

October 23, 2013

Financial literacy.  Who really needs it especially when there are plenty of apps and other advanced software to tell you just what you need to know.  Balance your bank statement?  Phooey.  The bank will tell you when you’re out of money. My kid got my math gene which means that if a math problem requires […]

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Your Kids’ Future as a Factory Line Worker

March 15, 2013

You know you’ve seen them before – those cardboard displays outlining high school science projects with titles displaying a mishmash of scientific words that make you say, “huh” but sound important. I seen quite a few.  I was at a high school science fair recently and stumbled upon a bright high school senior whose project […]

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What it Takes to Become a Successful Young Business Owner

January 23, 2013

Do you have what it takes to become a young entrepreneur? If you find yourself bursting with ideas and brimming with ambition, it may be time to leave the ranks of the job-seeking student and capitalize on your brainstorm by turning it into a self-owned business. Becoming a successful young business owner, however, takes more […]

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