By Tim Lakey,
ST. Louis Entrepreneurship Teacher
In early February, we had our first speaker provided to us by NFTE. His name is Sylvester Chisom, and he came to talk about his experiences in becoming an entrepreneur, and how my students might get some ideas from his experiences. He was a great fit for my students. He started his first business when he was in high school. His business is a car wash that most of the students are familiar with. Mr. Chisom made the point that the students should keep their eyes open for any opportunities that they might be able to turn into a business.
He then told the story of his car wash which started out with Mr. Chisom and his partner washing cars for women that came to his mother’s beauty shop. They grew their business over the years to not only include a building where they was and detail cars, but they also have a mobile fleet of trucks that can clean customer’s cars on sight. His story showed the students that they can start small with a business and then build it from there.
I have been talking to my students since the beginning of the semester about how they need to come up with a business idea that they can turn into a business plan. We spend at least a few minutes of every class talking about what might constitute a good idea to pursue. A lot of students already have an idea about what type of business they are interested in, but some are still struggling to come up with something. Mr. Chisom talked a lot about how students need to pursue something that they are passionate about. One student mentioned that she was very good at making PowerPoint presentations. Mr. Chisom told her that he has a friend who received a contract with one of the larger companies here in town to revamp all of their training presentations.
On the same day that Mr. Chisom spoke to the students the girl that said she was good with PowerPoint presentations came by my classroom a few minutes before school was ending. She was very excited because she now has a business idea. She told me that she has been helping a lot of her classmates with their PowerPoint presentations and she thinks that she is going to pursue something along those lines for her business plan.
It was great for the students to be exposed to someone that started their own company while they were in high school. The students related to Mr. Chisom, and when we discussed his presentation the following day most agreed that they got a few good ideas from the presentation.