We read about them in the papers and hear about them on the news — teen entrepreneurs who are making thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars by starting their own businesses. From a T-shirt company to social networking sites and a variety of Internet consulting businesses, ambitious teens have discovered a knack for making money at an early age.
And the numbers are growing. “Seven out of 10 teens say they would like to own their own business someday,” says James Barood, executive director of the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The burgeoning interest in entrepreneurship among teens inspired Barood to set up the Discover Business Teen Camp program at the university. “We already had a large program in place for students up through the middle school years, and we wanted to add something for older students that would be both fun and useful. It will give them a taste of the business world,” he said. The program, now in its sixth year, is designed for students entering grades 9 through 12 this fall.
The one-week session will begin Monday, July 21, at 9 a.m. at the school’s campus in Teaneck. Students will gain knowledge in the areas of teamwork, communications, research, finance, entrepreneurship, and business planning. They also will participate in daily sports and extracurricular activities of their choice such as yoga, art class, board games, and nature walks. Faculty and staff from the Rothman Institute will supervise the business camp. Cost: $490. To register call 201-692-6500.
Barood’s interest in entrepreneurship stems from his own early background in family business; his family owns the Barood Agency, a real estate and insurance firm with offices in New Brunswick and Somerset. Barood, however, became the family rebel by opting for a career helping others to learn about business and entrepreneurship, rather than working in the family firm. Barood received his bachelor’s in economics from Rutgers and an MBA from Texas A&M. He has worked with Farleigh Dickinson to develop and manage many of the Rothman Institute’s academic and outreach programs since 1997.
Barood’s interest in business and entrepreneurship keep him busy as a lecturer and moderator at business events throughout the region. He is also on the board of the Silberman College of Business, North Jersey Wired Steering Committee, the Franklin Foundation for Educational Excellence, the NJN 2008 Gala Committee, NJ Connected Broadband Initiative, and the Billion Minds Foundation.
Teachers for the Discover Business camp come from the faculty and staff at the Rothman Institute, he says, with about two dozen students in each session. The camp attracts a variety of students, and while a few of them walk in with a specific idea for a business they want to start, others “just want to get a taste” of the world of business. The skills learned at the camp can be applied to all areas of life, in school and the world, not just business ownership, says Barood. They focus on teamwork, leadership, research skills, business planning and marketing strategy, and finance, particularly personal financial skills.
Teamwork. Each of the five days of the program is taught by a different instructor and focuses on a different skill, but at the same time, students learn by practicing each of the skill throughout the week. “We don’t just focus on teamwork on one day then drop it,” explains Barood.
Instead, the students are broken into teams to work on their business ideas together, putting the skills they have discussed into practice. They learn to do research together and to develop their feasibility plans together. Some of the areas discussed during the lesson on teamwork include group dynamics, how to work together to resolve conflicts, and how to create and conduct an effective presentation as a group.
Communications. Communication in business includes both the written and spoken word as well as the impression a person makes on others. Making a positive first impression is important in business, and it is a skill that many high school students have not been taught, nor had an opportunity to practice, says Barood. The camp emphasizes proper speaking skills and gives an introduction on how to write business correspondence. Public speaking and business etiquette are also touched upon.
Research. “Research is an important skill for anyone to learn, whether in business or in school,” says Barood. The students will spend some time learning about various business resources available through both the Internet and libraries. They will also learn how to present the results of their research.
Finance. Before a person can run the finances for a business, he or she must be able to handle their own personal finances, Barood adds. The professors at the camp place a lot of emphasis on teaching personal finance, including budgeting, saving money, and investing. They also discuss how to obtain a personal or student loan and spend some time discussing the stock market.
In today’s world, most students leave college in debt, whether from student loans or credit card debt. Understanding the world of credit, including how interest works is an important skill for everyone these days, says Barood, whether they plan to become a business owner or not.
Business planning. The focus of the camp is entrepreneurship and students will have time to learn everything from exploring development strategy and planning, to brainstorming new ideas, and learning about marketing, says Barood. Guest speakers will include entrepreneurs and corporate professionals, who can give real world advice.
At the end of the week students will present their feasibility ideas, says Barood. “We don’t expect them to develop a full-blown business plan in a week,” he says. “That’s not realistic.” But they do have the opportunity to develop the beginnings of an outline and present it to the group, as well as to professionals.
The students receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program but there are no grades at the camp, and no one comes in first or last with their plan, he says. “We take a look at what they’ve done and discuss with them what is good and where they need to improve.”