Middle school children learn how to be business savvy

Saturday, July 14, 2012
The three winners of the week-long Entrepreneurship pose with their diplomas after learning how to be a successful entrepreneur for the last week. The winners all walked away with cash prizes ranging from $50-100 and a chance to grow their business. (Photo by Mark Schafer)

At the beginning of the week, Nate Fisher had big dreams.

He wanted to create a business where he would restore antique farm equipment so that they could be possibly be used again, or restored to their original condition.

But those dreams were a little out of the price and ability range for the middle schooler.

After meeting with Brian Dalziel as a part of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation's Middle School Entrepreneurship Academy, Fisher was able to scale back his dreams.

Instead of restoring full size tractors, Fisher decided to make a business that restored toy tractors, so that they looked like they just came from the box.

"Nate's project was one that we had to take baby steps with," said Dalziel, who is the Senior Vice President of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation and served as a mentor for the participants in the academy. "The Restoration Barn is really a great project, one that Nate could graduate up to his original idea."

His idea impressed the panel of four judges the most out of all the projects and earned Fisher the grand prize of $100, and a chance to grow The Restoration Barn even outside the academy.

"All of the ideas that this group came up with were really great," Dalziel said. "They have the chance to build a business, shape it and they can start it now and continue to do it in the future."

The academy started on Monday and concluded Friday afternoon with 10 kids taking part in the project.

For the start of the project the entrepreneurs sat down with Dalziel to form a business plan. Some ideas, like Fisher's, were a little out of the range of what the entrepreneurs could afford.

"I had a long list of age-appropriate projects," Dalziel said. "I wanted to figure out their strengths and what they could afford, and adopt that into a working business."

All week the entrepreneurs were able to learn the ins and outs of making a business work, everything from pricing their projects to marketing, which Dalziel said will help them in the future, even if they don't become a future entrepreneur.

"All these kids will have a better appreciation about the business world," Dalziel said.

Fisher wasn't the only entrepreneur that earned money for his project.

David Holt took third place and earned $50 for his No Poker Just Joker business, which is a board game project that he started.

In second place was Morgan White, who won $75 for her project, which uses Velcro to secure a gel pack inside a drink coozy to keep hands warmer and drinks colder.

Even though only three members of the 10 were able to get money this week from their project, Dalziel said that all of the ideas the students had could make money.

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