Developing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs: Comcast Business and Junior Achievement – Week 5

December 21, 2015

This is the fifth in a series on Comcast Business and its work with Junior Achievement. For a look at the previous article, click here.

Now that our students have settled on a product to build their company around, it’s time to get down to business – the building of their business.

The kids did their homework between our last session and this session, investigating potential vendors to work with, as well as possible retail locations to sell the end product. One of our students expressed sticker shock at the costs associated with selling goods at one particular retail location and shared their concerns with the group. As mentors, we used this opportunity to teach them some of the golden rules of business – everything is negotiable, and never take “no” for an answer.

This week, we broke our students into functional groups/business units– each led by a Comcast mentor—taking into account their personalities and preferences identified in our last session. Many of the students wanted to assume leadership positions in the company as opposed to working in the functional groups, which left some of the groups understaffed, so we walked them through the distinct responsibilities of each group/role and made adjustments so the students were evenly distributed. As mentors with many years of business experience under our belts, we take for granted our basic understanding of business roles but for these kids, it’s all new information. We really wanted to drive the point home that business decisions cannot be made in a silo—that inter-departmental collaboration was crucial. To that end, we set it up so that each member of the leadership team is directly responsible for the performance of a set of functional groups, rather than just being “the boss” – just like in the real world. We also spent time discussing different approaches to making leadership decisions so that the students could settle on a framework for making them in the future.

The mentors also identified a student co-facilitator for each functional group that will work with the group mentor to help drive the work forward. With the organizational groundwork laid out, it started to sink in for the students that they were really going to be running a business, and they’re going to be responsible for each other!

Read Week 6

This week, students worked with Comcast mentors to divide into functional business units, continuing to move their business plans forward.

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