This series of learning activities on entrepreneurship helps adult learners explore the possibilities of starting a business and writing a basic business plan for a hypothetical business. This is the fourth activity in a five-part project consisting of:
1. Entrepreneurship: How to begin
2. Entrepreneurship: Is it for me?
3. Entrepreneurship: What business am I in?
4. Entrepreneurship: Will it work?
5. Entrepreneurship: Planning to stay in business
Employability, Critical thinking, Life skills, Interpersonal skills, Educational technology
Several class periods. The feasibility study and the marketing strategies were done as a group in an hour. The research of the census tract and data, and the writing of the proposal took about three hours.
This learning activity took place in a Families First classroom meeting 5 days a week for 4 hours per day. There were 5 students in the class. Families First is the Tennessee program that provides training for those welfare recipients who lack basic education skills. While learners work toward a GED, emphasis in these classes is shifting toward the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners need to acquire and keep a good job.
Messick Vocational and Adult Center
Type of Program:
Student Population Served:
Basic skills, grade levels 5.0-8.9
Credentialing, grade levels 9.0-12.9
Entrepreneurship: Will it Work?
After a general introduction to entrepreneurship and business plans in the first lesson of this series, learners attempt to determine what personal factors to consider in deciding if the time is right to become an entrepreneur. In this learning activity, potential entrepreneurs examine the feasibility study, marketing strategies, proposal, and the local census data.
- The learner will develop marketing strategies.
- The learner will develop a feasibility study.
- The learner will obtain census data.
- The learner will write the proposal for the business plan.
Convey ideas in writing
Learn through research, Reflect and evaluate
Learner Needs & Goals:
We have a mandate in Tennessee to make the classes for our Families First clients more work-focused. In talking about work possibilities, the idea starting a business seemed quite attractive to the learners. This learning activity helped us explore some aspects of entrepreneurship.
Learning Activity Description:
During the first class session, the learners worked together to try to understand the kinds of information that would be included in the Feasibility Study and the Marketing Strategy sections of a business plan. We used their business ideas and together asked each other the kinds of questions that would have to be answered in detail in an actual business plan. The lending institution will want to know if the product/service will be something the consumers will need or want. To answer that question, it is necessary to think about who the local customers are. The type of product or service must meet the demand for that product or service. Marketing strategy will also have an effect on the success of the business. In order to plan marketing strategies, we consulted the reference books listed in the "Materials" section.
- Have learners tell what their strategies are for the area in which they propose to open their businesses. Ask them to explain how their businesses will differ from the other businesses in that area.
- Have learners make a list of ways they plan to market their products and services, e.g., newspaper and TV ads, telephone sales, flea markets, flyers, business cards, and word of mouth.
Have learners develop surveys for customers, employees, and managers of competitors in the area where they plan to locate their businesses. (Note: It may not be feasible to actually ask potential competitors and their employees and customers these questions, but considering the questions should make learners more aware of how important it is to try to find this information.)
Census tract data
- Ask questions that will suggest whether there is enough business to support a second and competing business in that area.
- Determine from potential customers how far they would be willing to travel and how much they would be willing to pay for this product/service. Learners should consult the resources listed to guide their research.
- Have learners compile the feasibility results from their potential consumers and competitors.
One important source of data of which learners were generally not aware was census data. United States census data is public information and is available on the Internet at www.census.gov/. The Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov/bls/regnhome.htm might also be useful.
- Have learners research census data about the area where they plan to open businesses. Learners can also get information on those who live in the area, including their ages, education and income from the local library.
- Have learners include this information in their business plans.
All of the sections in this learning activity are a part of the business plan. Learners should know that research is necessary in order to predict the success of a business. The more you know, the less you leave to chance. Learners are now ready to compile their information and write their business plans.
Note that the learners will complete the proposal following the last lesson activity, which will includes the development of the operational timetable, start-up costs, and the three-month projected statement.
Materials and Resources:
The following web sites were also especially helpful:
- Shickler, S. J. & Casimiro, J. P. (1998). Growing a Business: Young Entrepreneur's Start Up Guide. Chamblee, GA:
- Resnik, P. (1988). Everything you need to know to manage a small business. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Richm, S. L. (1990). The teenage entrepreneur's guide. Chicago: Surrey Books.
- Covello, J. & Hazelgren, B. (1998). Your First Business Plan. Naperville, IL: Source books, Inc.
- Learners will have a list of marketing strategies.
- Learners will have a list of answers from the feasibility studies.
- Learners will have census data on the area in which they plan to locate their businesses.
- A partial proposal will be completed.
There is not an easier way to gather this information. I recommend that the teacher be patient and spend several sessions with this activity. Learners were very resistant when it came time to write these sections of their proposals.
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