The Real Business Project

[updated 4/29/24]

  • Why run a business project?

  • How to get started

  • Ending with an amazing business fair

Why Run a Business Project?

When I was in 4th year of secondary school in Ireland (the equivalent of 10th grade in the US), our business teacher, Alan Ryan, told us we would be spending a large portion of the semester creating our own businesses. Not just a hypothetical idea, but a real-life working business that would aim to make a profit. This ended up being one of the most memorable and impactful experiences of my high school career and something which I have strived to bring to all of my personal finance students over my career.

To date, I have had the privilege of helping over 500 teen businesses get off the ground through my position as a personal finance teacher and through my own business, The Simple StartUp. I 100% believe every person should understand the power and potential of being able to create your own income, as well as the lessons that are learned from starting a business. Even if a person never plans to own their own company, the skills and experience we gain from starting businesses as kids and teens will transfer to college, future jobs, and adult personal lives.

Check out all the resources you need to start your own business project!

How to Get Started

Running a Real Business Project is not an easy task. It has lots of moving parts and things to take care of on your end. Be prepared for the students to react to it in different ways! Some really light up and go deep in their businesses, whilst others are uncomfortable by the whole experience and need a lot of support to make it through. The structure and activities listed below can help get those uncomfortable students to make a move and to help steer the excited ones in the right direction for getting a successful student business up and running.

A student business project is a little different to just starting any business. We have a specific time frame in mind for finding an idea, developing it into a viable business, and making sales before the culminating event. All this whilst still being full-time students, athletes, club members, part-time workers, and home helpers. Therefore, we are going to be helping students to find ideas that are easy to start, quick to start, free (or cheap) to start, and still exciting to work on. It may not be their dream business just yet, but it will teach them all the basic steps for getting started.

The Real Business Project Preview

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how I run the project in my classroom

End with an Amazing Business Fair

The Business Fair is the final step of your classroom supported business project. The students have been working on their ideas and are ready to share with the world (or at least school) what they’ve been doing and how their idea works.

The students will have a space in which to showcase what their business is and how it works to fellow students in the school and selected judges who will listen to their presentations and offer feedback via a grading rubric. They should prepare a table or stall display to attract attention and inform customers, whilst being ready to interact with anyone who has questions or stops to learn more.

I’ve organized all that I have learned through the experience of running close to 10 business fairs and structured it in a way that it is as easy as possible for you to organize your first fair.

The Real Business Project

See all 11 resources that go into making this project happen!

*The information in this article is for education and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as financial advice. Please ask a licensed financial professional for help with your own situation if you have questions.


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