Recently I spent some time helping a friend develop a business plan for a local tutoring company. As I helped her identify and write down business mission, long and short term goals, market, marketing strategy and other details, I suddenly realized this business template would be extremely useful for ELA functional writing, expository, information and document skills grades 3-6. Especially if they tackled this adult or late adolescence task earlier in school. Preparing a business plan within a Chromebook connected classroom, would get students to use ELA skills to help them focus on personal life goals “business” of becoming the best “me” each could be. Doing so would help them plan career, employment, college and personal life goals. For some of them, depending on their family lives and responsibilities, these plans could also layout actual summer/afterschool or vacation businesses as well as be self development roadmaps for ongoing goal setting. Plus a Chromebook connection would allow the teacher and family and other selected peer or expert business mentors to support their planning at every stage with both private comments and public seeable by all cheering.
How does this “business plan “project fit into an ELA curricula plan? Easy, each part of the business plan highly functional template requires informational and persuasive/argument writing. That includes a paragraph exposition of the business mission and its vision of itself. Students can develop ongoing business plans- aka a portfolio of ELA functional document reading and writing skills as Google docs and teachers can make private comments on them as they evolve. Depending on the grade level and maturity of students they could also be asked to present immediate within 6 weeks to 3 months objectives (such as for personal development attending exercise sessions or reading a set number of books or for a personal business acquiring a set number of clients for a pet walking business) The marketing section necessitates short research and attribution (for example identifying sources for reliable teen exercise and test prep centers and mindfulness texts). The vast range of You Tube and Chrome sources which the teacher can curate for appropriate ones makes that research digitally engaging and highly relevant. Students can interview adults who run businesses and record their input making for a live action business plan, not just a Google text doc. Best of all, just as with my friend and me, part of developing the individual business plans for the “best me” could involve brainstorming and peer critiquing – otherwise known as collegial conversation , collaboration and discussion. Teachers can take the project to a Chrome book sharable level by recording classroom conversations and perhaps allowing colleagues to replay that audio with their classes as a jumping off point. Who says a Business Roundtable has to be comprised of adults in the same room when Chromebook connected young entrepreneurs can go online as well?
How can the “business plan” model customized to address ELA and PARCC and life goals?
First stick to these basic components and limit students to word count of 250 to 750 words maximum
(depending on grade and age level).
Model Student Centered and Student Owned Business Plan template:
Components: Explain each in descriptive paragraph form with actual details.
Business Idea- Brainstorm on your own or with peers or adults- your ideas for self development – Being the Best Me- as a business idea and focus on your skills and resources-people, friends or services, materials and others sources you can bring to it. If you want to serve others, think about a skill or service you would be good at providing and HAVE THE TIME to do after school or holidays or weekends without taking away from doing your best at school. Also if business for customers, are there customers nearby? A dog walking business in a building that forbids dogs will not work as a babysitting business in a local neighborhood saturated with adult babysitters will not be successful. Justify each detail of your viable business idea. Use available photos or music to add additional dimensions to your idea.
Business Name/Focus- beyond your own name- How does it communicate the business goal and is it appealing to market? Research online and find ten sneaker, skincare, snack food, ice cream or other product you really love brand names that work well an explain why. Snickers, anyone? Create a short video or a rap song detailing your business name search.
Purpose/mission/vision- what is say within a two to three-year span. what you want to produce, develop, do or set the groundwork for doing. Purpose explains the “why “ behind yourself definition –perhaps to improve your math operations or calculator skills or to be more reliable to do tasks on time or to start a business babysitting because you really like young children and have fun playing with them. Mission is what you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to be an informed mathematically capable consumer or be a future professional working with young children. Vision details how your purpose improves you and society. Mathematics smart citizens make good economic choices and those who care for young children can serve them as trained adults. Perhaps include a photo from common domain or your own art or photo to graphically enhance this vision.
Market: Who will be the audience for your business or customers for its products or services even if they do not pay for them? Are there any neighborhood trends that support your market? For example, given many incoming new residents who speak your family’s native language can you develop and use your translation skills well and use them frequently. Does your neighborhood lack an actual home baked goods store? Record the actual needs and voices of your customers to bring your market home.
Promotion/marketing: In what ways will your market learn about the availability of your services? How can you market or promote your own self growth? Can you chart your skills mastery in your room or have an adult evaluate your improvement as a speaker, a social being, an advocate for others or as a community citizen? Can you design and distribute business flyers or develop a website or post your availability for services or product on an appropriate third party website?
Where and how will your business be accessible to its target market? Skills and materials or experiences are needed for a successful startup of your business. Will you use your backyard, city street with local authority okay, or an empty storage place in your home, apartment or recreation building center? Is it okay for you to promote your business at a school event? What materials do you need for your business and will you have enough on hand for each service or selling session? Take a photo of your business office or site or materials to captivate your business plan audience. Use slides to show a stream of images.
What profits in money or education or products do you want to show for your business after two years?
Investor invite: If you need more cash than you have saved or your parents can spare how would you get investors to invest in your business? Think a persuasive poster or a brochure or perhaps a video. Add these to your files.
Students as young as 9 had some very detailed ideas about a future “best me” business they could develop. One ten year old, Olivaro had already scripted two comic books and had plans for Oli’s Mexican Marvel Comics. He wanted to do bilingual comics. His plan included trying to get a scholarship to an arts summer camp plus going to an arts middle school. He wanted to raise money for the camp by selling some art at the PTA auction. 12 year old, Sidra had already caught a glimpse of her future as a journalist when she was a school television anchor. She wanted to report on news stories that involved middle school students from their perspective. Her plan was to be enrolled in the film course her local summer school program ran for free and network with the videographer and other professionals to shadow them during spring break the next school year. She was compiling a video portfolio of her on camera work but also wanted to learn editing.
Gayil wanted to design jewelry inspired by an adult family friend who do that and with that adult designers help made up a detailed list of materials needed and developed a price structure. She marketed at first family and peer pals.
Max was great fixing computers, cell phones, and kids electronic toys. He was able to build an after school business by getting a place at a weekend community repair open park site. In fact he realized that being a “kid” made him very marketable since his prices were so much lower than adult repair persons. Of course, he was only available weekends for two hour stretches with his parent overseeing him.
What was best about using this chromebook situated and connected business plan template as part of ELA functional document reading and persuasive, informational and argument writing, was the answers were not abstract ones the students filled in as part of a necessary writing skills exercise, but rather real, relevant ones about actual life goals they had. In engaging in these preliminary plans at fairly young ages students used necessary ELA skills and digital embellishments toward articulating life goals and the steps needed to attain them. This is in itself the ultimate goal of teaching, is it not? The business of being the best “me” or envisioning my own entrepreneurial start can and should begin in the elementary or middle ELA classroom. With Chromebooks, these plans and a Business Roundtable Discussion can happen in your classroom. Tomorrows Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos are sitting in your ELA classroom today starting their business plans!!
Resources to inspire student business plans:
How to Make a Business Plan (for Kids) (with Pictures) WikiHow
Dr. Rose Reissman,
Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.