HUBBARD, Ohio — Crafting a business plan is a lot harder than Hubbard High School senior Brynn Cook ever thought.
To be fair, few high school students know what that entails. But students in Josh MacMillan’s Photography and Digital Media course will know how to start a business when they leave his class.
For years, part of the class curriculum was coming up with a business idea, creating a logo and merchandising to go with it. Students would then use their graphic design skills to put together a presentation board for the class. But MacMillan, an art teacher at Hubbard High School, says he wanted to go further.
“It always seems like the happiest people I know are working for themselves,” MacMillan says. “So if I can get the students to think about something for themselves, why not give it a try? »
To build the program, MacMillan researched articles in Forbes magazine and drew on his own knowledge of the cost of supplies he got from growing and canning produce from his garden.
This year, the class delves into the specifics of running a business and thinks about storefront floor plans, logistics for delivering goods and services, interviews with local business leaders about entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
“I thought if I was going to start a business at 40, let’s say I wanted to stop at 60. It’s 20 years of having a business,” says MacMillan. “What could it have meant if I had learned about this stuff when I was 15 or 16. Or at least had the idea?”
Cook enjoys writing and editing. His project is therefore to create a plan for Red, a magazine inspired by Taylor Swift’s album of the same name. The publication would provide a forum for young writers and cover a wide range of topics, she says.
“Kids can write about just about anything they want, but it lets their voices be heard,” Cook says. “I want it to be something like this so that young people are more inspired to write”
The hardest part of the project so far was figuring out the funding, she says.
Cook failed to realize that businesses had to account for every expense, from big purchases – such as commercial real estate space and equipment – to the last pen and sheet of paper.
“It’s not even something you really think about. But, you actually have to be careful about the cost of those,” she says.
To help students get an idea of financing, MacMillan provides them with bank records from the Huntington Bank. And it teaches them to detail everything they need for their business.
“Most kids don’t know how to use a checkbook,” he says.
MacMillan will start them with a digital budget and walk them through how to record services and transactions in ledgers.
Finances were also a challenge for Evan Flynn, who decided to open a bakery as part of his project. After going through the project, the second year says, she isn’t sure if a bakery is something she would want to pursue.
“I feel like it would be very difficult to compete with the big companies,” Flynn says.
However, she remains interested in owning her own business one day, which she says she prefers to the idea of working for someone else.
“I think it’s cool that you make your own schedule and be your own boss,” she says.
Flynn says the project grounded her in thinking about her future careers. She plans to attend Ohio University after high school and plans to major in engineering.
Sophomore Brennan Yohman is seriously considering one day opening a skateboard and clothing store, turning his skateboarding hobby into a career.
Yohman already has experience designing his own t-shirts and hoodies with iron-on vinyl produced using a Cricut machine. So it would produce them in-house, he says. He decided that the skateboards would be bought from other manufacturers to resell.
“It’s really hard to make a skateboard. You can’t use ordinary tools,” he says.
The biggest challenge, Yohman says, was figuring out where to locate his shop and market. He considered opening his shop in Hubbard. But after researching the market, he’s not so sure.
“There are not many skateboard shops [in Hubbard]. But I don’t know how big the scene is for skateboarding because there aren’t many places to skate,” he says. “I could go to California. But there are already a lot. People might not want it. And it’s quite expensive to live there.
Yohman wants to pursue his boutique idea as a career and says MacMillan’s class gave him the perspective he needed.
“I never took the time to research this stuff, but now I have,” he says. “I calculated the cost of having a building to sell and different things like that.”
Not all students plan to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas after graduation.
Cook aspires to go to college and do social work, she says. If that doesn’t work, she says, journalism is her second choice.
Whether that eventually includes posting Red, she says the class gives her a better appreciation of what it means to be a business owner. The skills will also apply to life independently, she says.
“Count the cost of things – I’ll need them no matter where I go because I’m still going to have to buy my own supplies for some things,” Cook says. “Even if I eventually own a house, I’m going to have to accrue the cost of random things that I never would have thought of before.”
Even if her students don’t start a business after high school, MacMillan says the knowledge her students gain from the project is a tool that will come in handy later in life. It also shows them that there are alternatives to college when it comes to defining a career path.
“Depending on what you want to do, you don’t have to go to school for four years for your trade, for your degree,” he says. “People can just have a business based on a skill they have rather than the piece of paper they had to get to be able to do it.”
Pictured: Josh MacMillan students learn the basics of entrepreneurship.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.