TC Central students experience an entrepreneurial adventure | Lifestyles

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central High School teacher Becky Harvey trains and inspires young entrepreneurs in her “How to Start a Business” class. Real skills for the real world are foundational lessons taught to prepare students for their futures.

“Overall, the students do amazing things,” Harvey said. “They work hard and make good choices.”

The fall 2022 semester-long Junior Achievement school program involved 28 students. Students were tasked with starting a business from concept to design, product to delivery and financial management. At semester’s end in January, the class concludes with a lesson in philanthropy when proceeds will be shared with the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan.

Student interest and individual strengths placed them in one of six departments including production, sales, finance, public relations, promotion and human resources.

Company creation began with brainstorming sessions which led the class to select two products for the basis of their entrepreneurial adventure.

“We decided to make it a sweatshirt and beanie because we thought both are great for selling in the winter,” said marketing class president Kathryn Wade.

Students branded the business “Harbor Hoods.”

“Because of our location in Traverse City, we thought it a good idea to include water in the logo,” Wade said.

A lighthouse image appears on sweatshirt fronts conveying the message “to light your path.”

Each class member was responsible for selling a minimum of eight items. Promotions ranged from word of mouth to Facebook and Instagram accounts to area media reports.

All students met the sales goal, and some exceeded the target.

“The class surprised me,” Harvey said. “They started slow in their sales, but over Thanksgiving sales were over $1,000.”

Wade said the greatest class challenge has been learning to work together for the common goal of developing a successful company.

Vice president of the public relations department Mack Shane said he gained perspective on the struggles involved in entrepreneurship.

“As a business community, I learned some of the hardships in starting a business,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work and there are a lot of decisions.”

While the class opened student eyes to the ins and outs of starting a business, the essential skill Harvey hopes the student take away from the class is the importance of effective verbal and written communication.

“It’s a huge piece to help them in their future,” she said. “It pushes them out of their comfort zone and develops real skill for the real world,” she said.

Harvey walks a line between providing a backbone of support and allowing students control — with the objective they understand and appreciate the fruits of their labor and the meaning of giving back to community.

A $1 dollar donation for every item sold will be contributed to Big Brothers Big Sisters for the project’s philanthropic component. Students report they chose the charity which pairs adults with children in need of social and emotional support because like the class, the organization helps youth become better versions of themselves.

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