Learning valuable business skills
Being an entrepreneur can be a challenge, whether it’s your life choice or a Business Education class in school, as a group of Grade 11 and 12 students at Vanier Collegiate can attest to. The Entrepreneurship 30 class at Vanier has taken on two projects, which teaches the students real life business skills. “It’s curriculum heavy in the first month or two just to get them used to the business and marketing, as well as the characteristics of entrepreneurship and what skill sets would be good for them,” explains Business Education teacher Christa Lapointe. “Then once we get the curriculum part of it out of the way, we get into things like ‘How does the market work, how do the trends work, how do we produce, and how do we make connections and networking happen.” From there, the students get into the ‘hands-on’ part and working together as a group, mak- ing them part of a team where they are very respectable of each other and their ideas. One project is the planning of the third annual Vanier Christmas Craft and Tradeshow set for November 28th. The event began two years ago by parents to raise money for student trips and grad, but has since been taken over by the Entrepreneurship 30 class. The event attracts over 1,100 people, and they are hoping for over fifty vendors this year. The admission fee is a silver plate donation, with a portion of the show’s proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. The class has also partnered with Junior Achievement, which is a non-profit international organization helping youth learn about business. The project is a lot of work during school hours, as well as evenings and on weekends. The students say they have been overwhelmed, as they didn’t expect event planning to be so much work. There are 11 students involved in setting up the working company, which has a president and vice-presidents of marketing & sales, finance, technical, production and operations. Although it has been a lot more work and involvement than they expected, the students agree, it was an enjoyable and exciting experience. To them, the project taught them a lot of people skills and brought them out of their comfort zone. The second company, ‘Sweet Scents’ is operated by a group of 16 students, who plan to give 25 per cent of their profits to ‘Cool Earth’ which works toward halting rain forest destruction. They have produced two products, one being scented bath salts and the other is chocolate. It has taken a lot of their time because the main focus is on production, making sure they have enough product to satisfy the customer base. The students have done well with their company and liked the fun side of the challenge but admit there has been some mistakes along the way. Running out of product, using the wrong coconut oil for the chocolates and making that first sale were just a few challenges they faced. Going to buy ingredients for their products with only $20 and finding they cost $60 was another lesson learned. Even with the ups and downs, the group is passionate about their company. They are already planning to expand by adding dark chocolate to compliment the white chocolate sweets. There are also plans to add a kids soap to their bath scents product line. They also plan to approach local businesses to see if they will carry their products. Any supplies the students have needed for their two companies have been bought locally, and the businesses in return have helped them learn many aspects of business. “The local businesses have been very willing to help our students learn and develop their business skills,” said Lapointe. The Entrepreneur 30 class has strong merit, as several of the students are already considering an involvement in business, either as an entrepreneur or as a key employee who understands the complex world of business.