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 second 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

  Consumer education, Life skills, Writing skills, Critical thinking, Employability, General education development (GED), Resumes - personal

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

Time Frame:
  Four successive class periods

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: Is it for me?

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. Learners write a resume, a statement of net worth, and life plans. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:

  • Learners will compose a resume.
  • Learners will formulate a statement of worth.
  • Learners will articulate their life plans.

Primary Skill:
Convey ideas in writing

Secondary Skills:
Decision making, Life long learning, Plan

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:

Taking stock of the resources one has to start a business is an important part of a business plan. Resources to be considered are not only money, but also experience, personal interest and drive, and the support of others. In this activity, learners examine their attitudes and drive, compose a resume of their work experience, formulate a statement of self-worth, and articulate a life plan.

Examining attitude and drive
In order to help learners discover whether they have entrepreneurial potential, ask learners questions that encourage self-examination regarding entrepreneurial qualities. The following question is an example: If I had planned a weekend vacation and a customer wanted to schedule a large job that would conflict with my plans, I would

  1. tell the customer, 'Sorry, but I only work Monday through Friday.'
  2. explain to my traveling companions that I have to work this weekend and must pass on the trip this time
  3. figure that I'll probably never have the time to take a vacation anyway and make myself available every day of the year
  4. tell the customer that I was unavailable, then provide the phone number of my competition.
The Kelly Reno book referenced in the Materials section contains some excellent questions to use for this self-examination.

Composing a resume
Have learners compose a resume using the learning activity already published in the Southern LINCS Workforce Education LAB entitled "Creating an Effective Resume" This learning activity took my learners about 3 hours of class time.

Formulating a statement of self-worth
An important part of a business plan is a statement of self-worth in which the applicants list their assets and liabilities. Lending institutions require a statement of collateral and debts. Learners work by themselves on this statement, since they might not want to share this information with other learners.

In order to create the statement of self-worth have learners

  • Make a list of everything they own, e.g., home, home furnishings, art, cell phone, clothing, car, jewelry, etc.
  • Estimate the value of these assets and assign a dollar amount to all assets.
  • Write down their debts, i.e., amounts they owe on any of their assets and any other debts.
  • Combine assets and liabilities on one sheet with two columns, listing the things they own under the heading "Assets" and debts under the heading of "Liabilities."
  • Total the dollar amounts for each column and subtract the smaller amount from the larger amount.
  • If the assets are greater than the liabilities, the learner has a positive net worth. If the amount of the liabilities is larger than the assets, the learner has a negative net worth.

Articulating a life plan
Learners are asked to think about what they want to accomplish in life in order to write an essay on their life plans. Learners should write this essay using the same approach they would use in writing a GED essay.

  1. Ask learners to do some brainstorming about the topic and to write down phrases or ideas that come to them as they listen to the following questions:
    • What is your current situation?
    • Do you have children?
    • Do you have a job?
    • Do you want to obtain your GED? When?
    • Do you plan to go to college? What will your major be?
    • How do you plan to take care of your obligations and meet your goals?
    • Will you marry?
    • Where does being a business owner fit into your plans?
  2. Learners should then organize their thoughts into themes. Possible themes for paragraphs might be past experiences, current responsibilities and conditions, future hopes and goals, and how one plans to achieve those goals. It may help them to organize their thoughts if they put the various parts of their life plan into a simple timeline.
  3. Each of the themes of their life plan should be organized into a paragraph with a topic sentence and supporting sentences.
  4. Introductory and summative paragraphs should be written.
  5. The paragraphs should be ordered logically, and transition sentences should be included to help the essay flow from one part to the next.
  6. Learners will type their essays into a word processing program and give copies to two other learners to read for content, clarity, and the conventions of English language usage.
  7. Learners will gather the feedback from their proofreaders, consider the suggestions, and edit their essays accordingly.
The lending institution may not require a life plan, but such a plan may help an institution see the seriousness of the borrower. Articulating a life plan will also help the learner focus on how owning a business would fit into their lives.

Materials and Resources:

  • 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.
  • Reno, K. (1996). 77 no talent no experience and (almost) no cost businesses you can start today. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
  • The lesson plan "Creating an Effective Resume" from the Learning Activities Bank.

Objectives have been met when learners have completed their resumes, statements of worth, and life plan essays.

This activity was reasonably easy for the learners and they followed through well. It was interesting when the students did the statement of net worth. They realized the importance of having assets. None of my adult learners own a home, however they did have an automobile, household contents, jewelry and furniture that was paid for. I noted that they did not have debts, and that is an asset in itself!


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