News + Resources

Following Your Drive

L. Brian Jenkins, MA - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

 

Skating isn’t usually included in the list of entrepreneurial ideas. It might even be called a foreign entity in the business world. At StartingUp Now, I had the opportunity to speak to a skater who turned his passion for skating and ministry into an achievable and actionable business plan. Noah Arnold, 29, demonstrates entrepreneurial initiative as he transitions into a new stage in his life, while showing how broad entrepreneurship opportunities can reach. In an unyielding manner, Arnold represents a prime example of entrepreneurship in a new capacity, and he uses StartingUp Now to turn his skating interests into a profitable business.

Arnold plans on opening a board shop that would sell skateboards, wakeboards, and snowboards products as well as accompanying retail clothing. He has always had a heart for skating, but he became a leader as he grew into a minister role to the skating community. Growing up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, he moved to Illinois to study at Trinity International University. After college, Arnold moved to Libertyville, IL, where he co-founded Foundation Skate Ministry, a nonprofit skate ministry. Foundation Skate Ministry has two purposes: the “effective proclamation of the gospel of Christ to the lost skate culture in Lake County” and, “making disciples and the development of those disciples’ character into the character of Christ himself ‘teaching them to do all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:20).” Through weekly bible studies, the ministry reaches out to the skating community and transforms it through the word of God. “It started with a couple of kids a week, like 3 or 4, and then it grew to around 35-45 at my apartment,” said Arnold. He used his individual role as a skater to reach out to an entirely new and often overlooked community. 

He further immersed himself in skating culture when he moved to California for a year to teach physical education at a private school. “So-Cal and skate boarding is like PB & J,” said Arnold. However, he returned to Sturgeon Bay when he heard about the creation of a ten thousand square foot skate park in Door County. “If I can open up a skate shop and do ministry, I would be following my heart and passion,” he said.

While formulating his initial concept for the business, he was directed to StartingUp Now by a parent of a child in Arnold’s youth group. Since then, he has begun using the plan to layout his business plan and confirm his goals for the board shop for the next five years. “It’s been really helpful to put it all in words…I want to make sure I’m aiming for what I really want,” said Arnold. His use of the StartingUp Now Skillcenter not only allows him to lay out his business plan in a central online location, but the resources he can access help him visualize unclear concepts by providing relevant examples on starting his own business.

What he has gained most from the StartingUp Now plan is his marketing strategy. Arnold still dedicates himself to fostering the skating culture. “Skate culture is fairly new, it’s growing, and it would be...molding the culture…being the voice for skaters and supporting them…I want to motivate skaters and get their support,” he said. Developed from the StartingUp Now plan, Arnold’s efforts target at expanding the skating culture as well as promoting Door County as a prime destination.

Arnold’s situation presents a great example of the influence entrepreneurship can make on a community. Spurred by his passions for ministering to the youth and skating, he is able to transform a lifelong “hobby” into a way to support his family and occupy an influential role in Door County, WI.

To learn more about Foundation Skate Ministry, visit their website. To contact Noah Arnold directly, email him at noah.arnold711@gmail.com.

Cultivating Urban Youth Entrepreneurs

L. Brian Jenkins, MA - Thursday, September 06, 2012

 

Challenge provides opportunity for change.

This is a common experience for most entrepreneurs who are challenged to provide their own solutions to the problems they face. Struggle is the birthplace of innovation, but one must be prepared with the right tools to overcome adversity. With the proper cultivation, ordinary individuals may become innovative entrepreneurial leaders, creating solutions versus being entrapped by problems that plague their communities. The entrepreneurial process strengthens the innate ability to create solutions, but this strength must be honed and fostered.

America’s three sports deities, the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) (I’m a fan of them all!) together represent one of the most highly revered talent pools in the United States. Each franchise, regardless of the sport, has a clear focus, expectation and invests capital with one goal in mind—winning. Participation at this level is highly selective. Most players have natural ability and talent within their sport often recognized in their youth. This leads to a training process, sometimes beginning as early as 5 years old or younger, and it typically involves someone, usually a coach, who has the experience to recognize talent and groom it to its full potential.

Where are those talent identifiers for potential entrepreneurs? What traits should they look for? Are those who teach in our classrooms, minister to our children, and serve as counselors at summer camps trained to recognize innate entrepreneurial abilities? How do you groom innovative entrepreneurial talent?

Great question. . .

 

1. Identify Urban Incubators

I believe the entrepreneurial incubators, particularly in the United States, already exist as schools, community organizations, places of worship, as well as the growing socially-networked global communities. Equipped with the tools, tech, training, and marshaling resources to compete in the marketplace, I’m convinced a crop of well-trained entrepreneurs can be seeded, sown, and harvested in their own communities. By providing entrepreneurs with solution based tools and resources such as StartingUp Now we can help cultivate their innate ability to create solutions in their own communities.

 

2. Expect Success

It is necessary to provide entrepreneurial facilitators effective solution-based tools intentionally designed to create operational businesses. This begins with a fundamental belief that the student can indeed, with the training, operate the business. Training connotes expectation. Train for success.

Within the context of football, a team practices all week, oftentimes twenty hours or more to play for a total of sixty minutes. The team is often able to quickly learn if their conditioning (preparation), game plan (business plan), and outcome (achieved goals) resulted in a win or a loss. It is also absolutely necessary, regardless of a win or a loss, for the team to review the game film with their coaches to improve each week. Teams DO NOT train to fail—failure is an obstacle to overcome. Therefore, we must position the entrepreneurial facilitator with effective resources with the expectation to train successful entrepreneurs.

 

3. Seek Challenge

Youth in challenged urban environments are highly intelligent, adaptable, and often solve their own problems. However, they are still youth and need the assurance that someone, their “coach”, will be there to assist with their business and personal development. The new startup provides opportunities for students to apply the skills learned in the planning process—it’s their business. We entrepreneurial instructors must learn to coach the business not control the business. The student must learn if their plan resulted in their intended outcome. Their network will multiply as they create new relationships, solve business trials, and begin to see difficulties as opportunities to be solved.  Their entrepreneurial mindset is shaped by both their successes, failures, and their resolve is increased by their ability to overcome. Students discover the power of decision-making and the implication of poor choices.  These experiences mold them as the future business leaders.

The startup provides ownership, accomplishment, allowing for a goal they set, achieved, and serves as a platform for other students to emulate. Through the rigors of operation, they learn that business is dependent upon their reputation providing ample opportunity to realize “Treat others as you want to be treated,” and the benefit thereof.  By growing urban entrepreneurs with values that exceed their own self-interest, we intrinsically train these future leaders that operating a successful business requires service to their family, community, country and others under their influence.


Entrepreneur Spotlight: Randi Craigen

Jason Huang - Thursday, August 30, 2012

 Sometimes the greatest challenge to success is knowing where to start. Randi Craigen found her focus through StartingUp Now.

Randi Craigen is the Chicago director of East Wind Nannies as well as an emerging jewelry designer who had once never thought she would run a business. A mother of four and proclaimed introvert, Randi took the inspiration of friends and the tools and support she gained from StartingUp Now, and is now working on making two dreams a reality. Randi has lived in Chicago for over twenty years, and faces both the challenges and excitements of marketing to the city’s unique needs and culture.

How did you get started with your nanny business?

I was working as a part time teacher’s aid at a preschool, and a friend of mine asked me how my job was going. I told her I was thinking about taking a nanny position instead, so that I could really focus on just a couple of kids and really relate to them and invest in them, rather than crowd control with twenty-some kids. She said to me, why don’t you open a branch at my nanny agency. She was looking to expand, and I said sure let’s talk. As we talked more about it, I realized it was something I could do and would enjoy doing. I didn’t have to start from zero; I could take her plan and her structure, and I could work from there. I still felt by doing that I could invest in kids by helping find quality nannies to care for them while their parents were at work.

How did you learn about StartingUp Now?
I’ve known Brian for about twenty years. I didn’t know exactly what StartingUp was about, but I knew that Brian was kind of a small business guru. I started with this agency in Chicago, which is pretty much just me. I quickly found myself in over my head, and I thought what am I supposed to do? Even though some things were already laid out for me, reaching the Chicago market, you know, that was all on me. So I went to his office to talk to him about small business, and Brian did everything to get me involved, from dropping the book in my lap to walking past me and checking up on me to making sure I was working on things.
 
What has been your experience with StartingUp Now?
I’m still honestly working through some things on it, but I think the greatest benefit I’ve had thus far is clarity. When I first talked to Brian, I wasn’t sure how helpful it was going to be, because figuring out the business plan and start up costs had essentially been done, or so I thought. However, it really helped me to understand just what it was I was marketing, what my product actually was. I thought my product was nannies, and that’s not my product; my product is really the very personalized customer service that I provide for families by doing the nanny search for them. That makes a difference in how I market it.

Brian also showed me the Skillcenter, and I was fiddling around with it and realized how easy it was. There was a question on startup costs that I didn’t exactly know what it was, and there was a link that I could click on immediately that went to an article that explained it; it’s so user friendly.

So after going through StartingUp Now, how has your outlook on entrepreneurship changed?
I just think differently; I see the opportunities in things. It’s funny to me how even talking to my daughter this summer, when she had requests to do face painting at a birthday party, I was just flowing with ideas about how to turn that into a business for her and how she could market that and how she needed to lay out a plan and all these different things on how to market herself as a face painter for birthday parties and earn a little bit of money. I’m planning these little businesses every time I turn around.

About a year and a half ago I started making jewelry just for friends and as gifts. A couple friends would ask, “Can you make something for my mom, and I’ll pay you for it.” People were liking what I was doing, so I started looking for little opportunities, Christmas shows where I could set up a little table and trunk shows for friends, but I never planned on making it a business. It’s just sort of been happening on the side. Now I love making it so much that I have all this product sitting around that nobody knows about really; nobody knows my little secret. Brian has been talking to me about how crazy that the product is already there, the investment is already made, so he’s really pushing me through the business side of it.

Where do you hope to see your businesses going?
I’m a little timid about that, which is another thing that Brian has been beating me over the head about. He’ll say things to me like what if I said you could earn this much money next year with your jewelry business, and I just look at him like he’s crazy. He’s dead serious, like no really, let’s talk about this. Of anybody I have talked to, Brian has really made me feel like okay, I can do this. He’s not just “rah, rah, go!” but instead gives me tools that have really helped me and made me start to believe, yeah I really can do this.

What do I want for this agency? I want it to be very relational, very personalized. I don’t have a vision for it to be huge. If I can’t give the families the kind of customer service that I believe in and believe is a strength as an agency, that means I’m probably going to need to get administrative help; somebody else will have to do other things so that I can do the relational aspect.

StartingUp has helped me to think in terms of growth, but not that it turns into something that I don’t want it to be. Just being able to express that, the Starting Up process has helped me define those things.


If you are interested in being a part of East Wind Nannies, visit their website. To contact Randi directly, call 312-650-9396.

Do Your Values Guide Your Business?

Grace Yi - Tuesday, May 01, 2012

 Posted by Brian Jenkins

 

"Core values. Is it how much something is worth?" asked Melody, a Chicago high school student. "If it doesn't directly impact my bottom line, how are values even relevant?"

This interaction with a student working on her first business plan struck the classroom instructor, which led to my visit.

The business venture that Melody and her team were pursuing was more than just a little "risque." Though the team had conceptualized a provocative business idea, its members faced challenges in moving past the first step of the StartingUp Now guidebook: Core Values. With profitability being the team's primary driver, aspects of the business's impact on its employees and their community--as well as the owners themselves--waned in comparison to their goal in "making money."

I was more than willing to visit the classroom and interact with the student team per the teacher's request, having experienced many of the same challenges that educators face in working with aspiring youth entrepreneurs.

Core Values acts as the first step in the StartingUp Now business guidebook, setting a foundation for the entrepreneur in thinking through their business idea. It's quite interesting to hear the various comments through my interaction with users--especially younger readers--who don't see the direct connection between how our values guide all aspects of our lives...even business operations.

Values are taught--historically at home, reinforced in school, and esconced through our peer groups. Values are not intrinsic--they are a learned behavior. As the traditional value reinforcers (i.e. home, school, religious institutions) are being replaced or expanded via social networks and media, where are students "learning" their values from?

This is why Core Values precedes all the other steps in the StartingUp Now guidebook. We want the future entrepreneur to make the correlation between their values and their business operations. I want people to struggle and force themselves through this section...even coming back to rewrite their values after discovering their own.

Entrepreneurship training is life training. By simply discussing Step 1: Core Values, the students and I were able to discover they actually do have values beyond the goal of generating profit, such as family, safety and stability. They simply were not making the connection between the influence that their values had on their business operations--that, in many ways, their values as a business were very much a reflection of themselves. Values act as a compass in making one's decisions, or as one of the students said, "It's like a GPS for our company, it helps us not to get lost."

Through the process of "facilitating vs. lecturing," the students and I, in an open-ended discussion, navigated various business scenarios that taught them how different types of values were profitable but harmful. They are now discovering their own personal values through their business planning process.

While wrapping up, a student named Hector asked, "Do you think an investor would invest in a business like ours?" He was thinking more like an entrepreneur than he realized. Through the process of engagement, the act of listening, and the encouragement for students to be empowered in their curiosity and choices, adult entrepreneurs can help shape the values of future entrepreneurs worldwide.

What do you think? Do core values guide business operations? How do you determine your core values?


Share your comments here or with the global business community on the Skillcenter message board.



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