Texas inspires high school students with business plans
Feb 09, 2010
For Beverley Lawson, a high school entrepreneurship teacher in Texas, Global Entrepreneurship Week was an opportunity for her students to think outside of the classroom.
“I saw it as an opportunity for the kids to interact with students across the district,” she said. “I saw it as an opportunity for the kids to get a bigger and better idea of becoming an entrepreneur, with the concepts and strategies I had planned for them. And then to connect them with something global – as a student that would have told me I’m connected to something worldwide that is not limited to the four walls of this classroom.”
Lawson engaged her students with the Week in two ways. First was to expand a project she has led for years where students open a business on the campus. Before this year, the business was a cookie shop, with the treats baked and sold on campus once a week. As part of GEW, the store was expanded, turning a classroom into an official store. Vendors were invited in to see the facility, to decide if they wanted to supply products for sale. The incentive for students to work hard is that proceeds are used to fund scholarships for students involved with the school’s DECA chapter, to attend the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
The second activity was a Global Entrepreneurship Expo. Students worked alone or in teams to develop a business, write a business plan, producing a prototype, and developing a marketing plan. During the Expo each product was displayed, with local politicians, School Board members and other students invited to browse.
“Kids could not see the big picture. All they knew is they were working hard and I was requiring a lot of them,” Lawson said. “Once the tables came in, and I had a banner made, and I required them to dress for success, it was an eye-opener. They wanted to do it again.”
About 50 students were involved in the Expo, producing 14 businesses, including a mobile beauty salon, a daycare center teaching language and social skills, and a venture that turned junk into jewelry.
Despite time constraints and a long list of required skills to teach students in a high school classroom, Lawson views entrepreneurship as an invaluable lesson to learn.
“It requires a lot of critical thinking and it teaches time management skills, organization skills and how to present,” she said. “With the economy the way it is now, (students) are beginning to see that entrepreneurship is really becoming a nation. It’s probably one of the most secure career paths that one could pursue at this point, because of the insecurity of the economy right now.”
For Lawson, participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week was an opportunity for her students to gain a hands-on view of what all is involved in trying to start a business—how the idea originates and how it must be developed.
“You have to have a plan, and you must plan your work and work your plan in order to be successful,” she said. “It gives them a competitive edge and it prepares them for college.”