Gloria Rolfe

This series of learning activities on entrepreneurship helps adult learners explore the possibilities of starting their own business and writing a very basic business plan for a hypothetical business. This is the first 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

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  Critical thinking, Employability, Job skills, Life skills, Listening skills, World Wide Web, Work environment

Learner Level:
  Basic skills, grade levels 5.0-8.9 Credentialing, grade levels 9.0-12.9

Time Frame:
  Several class sessions

Learner Grouping:
  Whole class

  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: How to begin

This learning activity will introduce the idea of entrepreneurship and starting a business. Through discussion and research followed by a guest speaker, learners will begin to define and understand a business plan and its components.


Learning Objective:

  • Learners will understand the concept of entrepreneurship.
  • The learners will examine and be able to identify the rudiments of a business plan.
  • Learners will locate and use resources about business plans on Internet.

Primary Skill:
Learn through research

Secondary Skills:
Use information and communications technology, Listen actively

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:

This lesson was composed of two parts on two successive days: (1) a discussion to introduce the idea of entrepreneurship and the importance of a business plan, and (2) a guest speaker who presented on both the content of a business plan as well as its importance to the success of a new business. Discussion:

  1. Begin a general class discussion on work. Ask what kinds of jobs the learners would like to have. Find out if anyone has ever thought of owning a business. Allow time for this discussion to develop.

  2. Introduce the concept of entrepreneurship. Define the term as starting a business and assuming the risk for organizing and running a business venture. Again, let the discussion develop. Make sure the "risk" involved is part of the discussion.

  3. Ask for suggestions as to how the entrepreneur can minimize the "risk" factor. Stress the importance of good planning and leaving less to chance.

  4. Ask the learners what they would include in a business plan to help minimize the entrepreneur's risk.

  5. Explain to the learners that they will be looking at several business plans in order to compile a framework for their own business plans. Ask learners to work with a partner.

  6. Have each pair consult a different reference from the "Materials and Resources" section listed above or other references you may have procured. Have learners list the sections of a business plan as found in the reference. Have them write a description of the information that would be included in each section. Allow about 15-20 minutes for this activity.

  7. After listing on the blackboard the different sections of the business plans they have researched, ask learners to determine which sections should be included in their synthesis of a business plan. Be sure that everyone understands what is included in the business plan.

  8. Take time to answer questions about a business plan.

  9. Give learners copies of an actual business plan that you have obtained from the Small Business Administration. If they are familiar with the particular business or with businesses of that same type, the plan will be of more interest and benefit to the learners.

  10. Have learners compare the SBA business plan to the class business plan.

Guest Speaker
The following class period, host a guest speaker who will focus on business plans and how they help to minimize the risk for entrepreneurs. Have your learners listen for the parts of the business plan that they have discussed. If these parts are not mentioned during the speech, ask about them yourself during the question and answer section at the end, or else invite learners to ask to ask for this information.

Materials and Resources:

  • A copy of an actual business plan from your Small Business Administration (SBA) state or local office
  • A guest speaker from the Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, or a successful local small business owner
  • 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.

The following web sites were also especially helpful:

Learners should be able to recognize the steps in the copy of the actual business plan that they receive. Learners should also start to be familiar with what is contained in a business plan and recognize when the guest speaker mentions that content. Learner will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship in the question and answer session following the guest speaker.

I would also allow more time for the activity. The learners seem now to be familiar with business plans in general and are starting to recognize the steps involved in creating a business plan, but they still have questions. The information helped learners to begin to think about whether they could start their own businesses.


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