The BizWorld UK programme is focused on teaching students how to create a business that designs, manufactures, markets and sells a product — all while keeping track of finances. These skills are vital to creating financially responsible individuals who can collaborate and communicate effectively. The project addresses basic maths skills and gives students the opportunity to apply maths in a relevant context. The students also get first hand exposure to real world economics, learning about: the profit equation, the entrepreneurial cycle, shares and what they represent, funding sources — venture capitalists and banks, the principles of supply and demand, and basic accounting.
21st Century Competencies
This programme builds students’ competency in critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, and communication — and provides opportunities for creativity. Students must think critically as they consider each step of the entrepreneurial cycle and what will allow them to be the most successful, profitable company. They must use problem solving skills throughout: deciding how much stock to sell to the venture capitalists, deciding how much string and other supplies to purchase, and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of borrowing a loan from the bank. Students collaborate as teams to make decisions about their company, create a company name and unique product, and develop a business plan to help secure funding for their company. Each student also learns to take on a leadership role within the team — being not only responsible as a company, but also taking ownership of the project. They use communication skills to share ideas with teammates, negotiate funding deals with both venture capitalists and bank loan officers, make critical business decisions, and to present their TV advert and product to community members and other students at the Sales Fair. Students have many opportunities to be creative: in designing their product, choosing their company name, developing their marketing campaign, and deciding on their overall sales strategy.
The BizWorld UK programme is an engaging way for students to learn basic business skills and concepts. It is an extended investigation into how a successful business is run. Students are encouraged to ask their own questions, find information, and develop new and innovative solutions for the questions that they will naturally discover as they dig deeper into the process of starting a business. Students initially ask questions such as, “What are venture capitalists?” and “How do I make the most money?” As they develop their businesses and start designing their products, students may ask new questions such as, “Can we get a patent to ensure that our product is unique and distinguishable from the other groups?” and “How can we use an assembly line to make our manufacturing process as efficient as possible?”
Voice & Choice
Since there are virtually limitless options for their product style, company name, and marketing campaign, students have lots of choices to make. In addition, students also decide how much (or little) money they would like to raise to fund their company and from whom they would like to receive it. They can decide how to manufacture their product, what their prices will be, and what kind of advert, logo, and slogan they should create to attract the most business for their company. They make their voices heard when meeting as team to compare ideas and arrive at a consensus, and decide how to present their plan to the venture capitalists and their product to their customers.
Revision & Critique
Throughout the programme students are asked to consolidate their learning by answering short and focused questions in a student booklet to ensure they have understood the concepts being taught. This booklet also contains their Company Ledger where they keep an accurate and detailed financial record of the cash going in and out of their company, as well as various worksheets that help them make sensible decisions during each stage of business development. For example, there is a ‘What’s in a Name?’ worksheet to help focus them on the things they should consider when coming up with a name for their company, and another worksheet with an outline for a basic business plan to fill in and present to the venture capitalist. Additionally, there are opportunities throughout the programme for students to gauge their performance both individually and as a team during specific tasks (such as the venture capitalist pitch) by using accompanying guidelines to assess themselves. At the conclusion of the programme, the whole class reflects on the knowledge they have gained and the concepts they have explored, as well as the skills they have built. Finally, they have an opportunity to offer their words of wisdom and advice to future BizWorld UK entrepreneurs.
Although the scenario is fictitious, students interact with a real audience. Students present their business plans at meetings with both the Venture Capitalist and the Bank, where they are expected to communicate their ideas in a professional manner and negotiate the terms of investment. The Venture Capitalist(s) ask students in-depth questions about their business, its goals, their product, their marketing strategy, why their company is a good investment, and how many shares they are willing to sell. Students must defend their company and negotiate the best possible deal. Students also learn how to engage with their customers (made up of other students, parents and school staff) when conducting market research, presenting their adverts, and promoting their products at the Sales Fair.