I gave a talk on Entrepreneurship to the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter at Northview High School here in Johns Creek, GA. The group was very engaged and asked a number of good questions.
It made a more lasting impression on one of the attendees, Tarun Khasnavis, a junior. Tarun contacted me a couple of months ago with the idea of a new program called Student Startup, the original object of which was to help students learn about repeatable and scalable business models, to be carried out via short weekly seminars alternating between different mentors, myself and Aswin Nataraj, a young entrepreneur in Atlanta. Each seminar will cover a different aspect of how to build an E-Commerce based company including marketing, budgeting, and design. I immediately and gladly signed up; after all, the creation of Student Startup is, itself, an entrepreneurial venture.
We had our first gathering this past Saturday, with the good folks at the local Kroger providing a nice conference room space for us. We are going to iterate the sessions as we go, depending on feedback from the students (our marketplace).
Here are some notes in support of the initial session. Enjoy!
Notes for Student Startup, Week
We started out with going around the room and getting introductions; I asked the students:
Why are you here on a Saturday?
What do you expect to get out of this?
What do you want to learn about?
Good News, Bad News
First, the Bad News:
The average age of a first time entrepreneur is about 45 years old; young entrepreneurs are outliers and are rare.
There are reasons that is so (business experience, relationships, general knowledge about how the world works, finances). That puts you at a huge disadvantage! How will you make up for that?
The Good News:
You can start now creating great habits and building strong relationships that will put you way ahead of the age curve. Nurture and get good at things like frugality, networking, gaining some business experience, learning from others (online and in person).
What are some of the traits of a good entrepreneur?
Patience, persistence, frugality, friendly, good communication skills (oral and written)
Note that technology acumen is not a requirement.
Success will be based on luck, timing, and relationships, all of which you have degrees of control over. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Good Questions to Ask of a Mentor
What made you choose this industry?
How long did it take you to turn a profit?
What makes a good entrepreneur?
What are the risks in that industry?
What were some difficult decisions you had to make? Any regrets?
What was your first step?
What resources did you have?
What resources did you need?
How did you business affect your personal life?
What keeps you going?
Your high point and low point in career?
Are you afraid to become attached to your employees?
Whats your long-term goal?
Where did you get the name?
What does success look like for you?
Do you have a business background?
Would you ever start another business in a different industry?
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
Are you happy with what you do?
Some Ideas for a Student-led Small Business
Take a look around and find a need. Find something that people need and would pay money for. Survey your parents, friends, and your friends parents see what type tasks they need help with or have a hard time getting to that they would pay someone to do.
Create an eCommerce website: start a drop-ship business and sell things online
Provide a one call does it all home maintenance service for seniors who live in their own single family home
There are lots of opportunities for arbitrage on Craigslist; buy cheap, mark-up, sell
Start a record label
Logo designs, web design, brochure design
Program all-in-one remote controls
Online administrative assistant
Pet care and training services
How to Start a Business in 10 Days