What Entrepreneurial Project Can I Do With 12th Graders?

By Ryan Himmel

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I am working with five groups of 12th-grade students at local high schools to implement one or more entrepreneurial projects to expose the students to the traits of successful entrepreneurs, including but not limited to: planning, money management, marketing vs. sales, wearing multiple hats, building a team, customer management and organization. The program will run for 60-120 days. What sorts of projects should I do with them?

That's a very interesting project and the type of learning I strongly support. While textbook reading, essays and exams provide the student with a basic foundation of learning, they lack the real-life experience element that is critical to entrepreneurial development.

The best projects for this type of learning are ones that expose the students to the different facets of being an entrepreneur. I would highly recommend that your students start mock businesses. You can require each student to come up with a business idea and then have the rest of the class vote on the ideas to identify the best ones in the class. Students with winning ideas would essentially become the CEOs or team leaders of the business projects. Instead of just assigning other students to work with the team leaders, I would encourage each team leader to try to solicit and pitch other students to join their team. They can even use stock options and other financial incentives to reach an agreement, as they are all important elements of building a team for any startup business.

Once the teams are assembled -- or not, if one or more team leaders choose to go it on their own -- then business plans needs to be constructed. The plans should lay the groundwork for how each team will execute their business idea. This includes developing the product or service, building a financial model and a go-to-market strategy, implementing customer service and performing administrative functions such as legal and accounting.

After the planning phase is complete, the teams can then begin taking their products or services to market. Other students in the school or in your class could be potential customers of each business concept. Instead of actual money, you can use a point system linked to academic performance awards or prizes donated by local businesses.

Let's assume that your program runs for 60 days. After the first 30 days, there should be an evaluation of each business so that the team can make improvements for the final 30 days. Each project should be graded at the end based on performance and execution.

Ryan Himmel

Head of Financial Partnerships, Xero Americas

Ryan Himmel is a CPA and financial technology executive who has dedicated over a decade of his work toward providing solutions to help accountants and small-business owners better run their firms. Himmel currently leads financial partnerships in the Americas for Xero.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Growing a Business

Lifetime Access to Business Advice with This AI-Powered Service is Just $29.99

With Consultio Pro, you'll find expertise on topics like data analysis, financial analysis, innovation management, and so much more.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


6 Habits That Help Successful People Maximize Their Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, but these tips will make them feel slightly more productive.

Business News

Here Are 3 Strategies Startup Founders Can Use to Approach High-Impact Disputes

The $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup Klarna recently faced a public board spat. Here are three strategies to approach conflict within a business.

Business Solutions

Stay Organized with This Task Management Tool, on Sale for $30

A Study Planr Pro subscription is just $30 for life.