Beyond the Business Plan: How to Help Budding Entrepreneurs Build a Business

Posted by | May 21, 2012

When I was the age of our NFTE students, I tried out to be a member of the all-state honors chorus as an alto. As part of the tryout process, I had to sing a song I’d never heard before with three other people I’d never met before. Of course I was nervous. I was out of my comfort zone. But when I began singing my part, the woman judging my performance began to sing along with me.

I tell this story to the judges of our annual business plan competition. I do this because I want to express to all our judges that, if they are compassionate and supportive (just like the judge who sang along with me at the all-state honors chorus tryouts), our students will go home even more excited to build their businesses. Our semi-final business plan competition takes place tomorrow, May 22, at SAP’s headquarters in Newtown Square, Pa., where we want all our students to leave feeling like winners for formulating a business plan and then working up the courage to present it.

Students who are excited to get to work building their businesses will share their experience not only with family and friends, but with other students at school. That excitement is contagious and can ultimately change students’ perception of the value of school. If our students feel good about themselves, and feel that their ideas are relevant and important despite their economic or academic circumstances, that attitude can transform communities.

This is exactly the impact we hope tomorrow’s semi-final business plan competition will have. This competition is the capstone experience at NFTE, the culmination of our efforts throughout the school year. We’ll see just how much the students have learned and grown with the help and support of our teachers and volunteers.

As far as volunteers go, SAP has been instrumental in supporting our business plan competition. Not only are they hosting the event, they also gathered up over 30 volunteers to help judge the business plans, keep time for the presentations, and captain the multiple rooms we’ll use to host the competition.

In many ways, SAP is actually a great partner for NFTE. SAP’s mission is to make the world better. What a great mission for these kids to hear! NFTE too is working hard to empower children who come from circumstances beyond their control. We support our students as they generate ideas for businesses and ultimately pursue the same goal as SAP. We want to make the world a better place, one business plan at a time.

We do that with compassion, encouragement, and practical opportunities for our students to take the spotlight and understand that their ideas, whether in business or other areas, have value.

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