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Entrepreneurship: Starting Early

By: Chris LaFay on February 22, 2018

What were you doing in 8th grade? I was playing N64 with Dave, my childhood buddy (probably All Star Baseball), playing whiffle ball outside and trying to see who could strike out an imaginary Ken Griffey Jr. on our sidewalk pitching mound. Yes, my life revolved around baseball – I’m glad you noticed. Sure, I was building websites in HTML for myself and a couple of people that would throw me a $20 bill that I called “clients” but in reality, “entrepreneurship” wasn’t a word in my vocabulary.

Let’s zoom forward to 2018. Regularly, I go into my alma mater middle school (Alton C. Crews Middle School) and lend a helping hand with their entrepreneurship class taught by Rod Hames.

In Entrepreneurship class, he teaches:

  • How to code basic HTML websites
  • The difference between fixed and variable expenses
  • Elements of a great business pitch
  • What a balanced budget means
  • How to do market research
  • Defining what a good business opportunity looks like vs. a random idea
8th Grade Entrepreneurship Mentoring Session

8th Grade Entrepreneurship Mentoring Session

And that’s just a sampling from one week’s agenda.  Most days when I’m there, I listen to what he teaches that day and when he unleashes the kids to get their work done. I get to float around, answer any questions and provide a fresh perspective to help his students solve real-world problems.

Now here’s the fun part. The underlying thread of his entire 8th grade curriculum is that each student starts (on day one of class) a business plan for a company. A company they can actually run themselves, right now.  They aren’t allowed to pick a random idea (e.g. owning a 5-star hotel).  It has to be fueled by one of their passions. Each student has to figure out how they can make an impact on people through that passion.

8th Grade Entrepreneurship Mentoring Session

8th Grade Entrepreneurship Mentoring Session

And that’s where we started.

It’s the beginning of the semester and the students just started brainstorming their ideas for their up-and-coming business.  Business plans haven’t been written yet and potential profit margins haven’t been calculated.  Today we they talked to us about their brainstorming and we gave our initial feedback.  I’ve been through the brainstorming process myself with Classic City. Representing a growing start-up – I had the pleasure of speaking to two students today:

  • One wants to take his passion for football and basketball and help train elementary school students. Using an after school program, to teach skills so students can make the middle school team when they move up over the years
  • The other wants to streamline tutoring and use his connections with academically-gifted rising-9th graders to give middle students a chance to be tutored with a low cost in the comfort of their own school (no extra travel time for the parents)

It is so exciting to see where these students take these ideas.  I will be writing follow up posts about their progress which culminates in a Shark Tank-type event at the end of the semester.  Students will pitch their business to brand new adults and get feedback on what they can improve before starting their business their freshman year of high school.

Written By:

Chris LaFay

Chris founded CCC after trying to figure out how to have the work-life balance that everyone dreams of. Not only does he get to enjoy designing + implementing websites, he also gets to play with his dog, travel, enjoy family dinners, and keep up with baseball. Check back with Chris for articles on web design, user experience, and project case studies.