IDEA #51. Invent something or come up with an original idea for your own business, and then find someone who can help you write a business plan for putting your invention or idea on the market. When your plan is done, figure out how to put into practice.
Of course this suggestion presupposes a certain inventive strain in the young person, as coming up with an idea for a successful business is a major challenge even for the most original of entrepreneurial minds. But let the imagination run free, even if the idea is flawed, because the point here is for the child to consider all the steps required in establishing a business and bringing a product or service to market.
The internet or a public library can provide reference materials including actual templates for business plans. The exercise is to apply specific, intentional thought to the business idea and to imagine each segment of the actualization plan. There are opportunities here to consider such matters as mission—the larger intent of a business—and the ways in which businesses find and pull together the resources necessary for production. Marketing is the final aspect to be considered, and perhaps the student can analyze some of his or her own experience as a consumer to come up with ideas as to how a product can be made appealing to a particular group of people.
One aspect of this project is to imagine what people want and need—to make the consideration a business idea an exercise in empathy. Another part is to consider the kinds of companies and products that truly and consistently deliver in terms of quality and service. What makes Coca-Cola a successful company, or Microsoft, or Old Navy? How do such companies become so successful—is it luck, or planning? What companies has the child seen fail—what fads and “must-have” items have completely disappeared within his or her lifetime? What is the secret of business success, in other words?
If the plan seems sound and exciting, there is no reason that the young person cannot try to connect with some adult resources who might help turn the dream into a reality. How old was Bill Gates when he started Microsoft or Mark Zuckerberg when Facebook took off?