How to teach yourself the basics of entrepreneurship?

By Linh PMP

This is from my experience as a coach at VYE YEA Camp in July 2015 for high school students. The camp was super intensive with fundamental lessons, but still delivered an overall idea of entrepreneurial mindset and implementation, thanks to the design by the team from Babson College (among the top schools in entrepreneurship). The activities included small-sized classes, keynote speech, pitching contest and team-building, but in this post, I will mainly talk about the content of the classes, which can be the hints for your self-learning.

Top tricks

  • Explore it with a group or at least in pairs. No entrepreneur can make it without a team. Practice working in a team from today. You can work in person or virtually.
  • Try to create a plan with schedule. It can be intensive for one week or two hours every night. Another skill for successful entrepreneurs.
  • In the schedule, if it is intensive, try to balance among reading/watching, brainstorming/creating and playing/relaxing.
  • If possible, find a easy-to-read entrepreneurship book as a reference. The camp that I mentioned used the textbook “From Ideas to Actions”, which includes thorough and user-friendly content.
  • Combine the self-learning with self-doing. Start selling something! For example, the student group that I coached during the camp decided to sell coffee during the camp break-time. That’s how they started gaining hands-on experience by building a team, negotiating with suppliers, creating promotional materials, utilizing the limited resources (they use the coach’s mini’s portable board as the “vending truck”), making financial plan and even establishing partnership with another group to have a joint-venture. Totally fun.
  • Get help. Just seek and ask for help if you feel you can’t do it well by yourself. As a coach in the camp, I did ask for help from other coach in terms of teambuilding activities and finance lesson. Likewise, as an entrepreneur later on, you would need partners and mentors who can back you up.
  • Be flexible. The schedule may be changed up to the situation (and it will be!). The same rule in life.

Sample learning recipe

DAY 1        
Agenda Time Act Detail Goals
AM

Warmup

15 Game Introduce yourself briefly (name, age, one hobby). Then tell 2 truths, 1 lie abt yourself. The rest will guess what is the lie. Then quickly introduce some group rules Icebreaking. Be open and confident to tell about yourself.
Know

myself

5 Case-study Concept “Core value” via the story of Charity Water’s CEO (http://www.charitywater.org/about/scotts_story.php). He made a difference when discovering his true core values: community, giving, equality! Get to know the meaning and significance of “core value”
15 Indivi-dual Define your own core values (with personal reasons)-5m. Share with group -10m.(To start, make example of picking up 1 core value based on 1 answer of 2 truths, 1 lie in last game) Personalize the concept core value
10 Pair-work Pick up name of a famous person and state his/her possible core values (eg. a pop star, Vblogger, professor, CEO etc.) Figure out relation between core value and action
10 Pair-work What will you do with your core value –> set your mission statement. State your mission
5 Home-work Take MBTI -Jung Typology (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm ) & Five love languages (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/). Send result to my email Understand yourself better. The result may change later in your life
Passion 5 Yoga Relax the face, breathe, think of one moment that you are extremely happy when doing something (painting, cooking, eating, writing blog, playing with kids, performing on stage, etc.)–> You probably have found your passion?
15 Indivi-dual Find your passion-Ask yourself. Think about your passion. It can be temporary.
15 Pair-work Passion in practice. Match your passion with possible professions. Help your partner. Find out some clues about what you want
15 Video Do u find it difficult to find your passion? Try & do to find passion! “At the center of being you have the answer; you know who u are & what u want”, Lao Tzu. Video “How to find passion” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvP8wBGEaT4). Summarize. Agree that passion comes from engagement more than thinking, that you can be trained to bring passion to everything u do, that passion is contagious.
AM

Wrapup

10 Q&A Let students name key concepts. Remind about homework (MBTI, love language). When you grow, your MBT your mission, your passion may change. But defining yourself today still worths –> at least you have the direction and motivation to GO, not STAY STILL. Will have a group lunch where we start discussing on group name unofficially. Remember key concepts. Be excited to explore yourself in the course
PM

Warmup

15 Groupwork Discuss on common core values of members to officially get a cool name for the group Get a reasonable group name.
Commu

-nity

5 Case-study Watermelon “charity” campaign to help poor farmers in center Vietnam -> is it a right way for the economy of supply & demand? Any other entrepreneirial long-term ideas to solve that problem? How about fresh fruit juice manufacturing to utilize tropical Vietnamese fruits?(eg. http://livingjuice.today/). Recognize that problems in community can be great sources for various entrepreneurship ideas.
15 Case study-Video Eg1. My community: university students. Problem: local students want international exposure but have little chance to go abroad. Solutions: bring international students to Vietnam to diversify the community with my startup. Eg2. Pls define the community, problem and solution in this floating schoolbag idea (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyXBpGP1L4A -1:40-5:38) Be able to define a familiar community, with existing problems and state possible solutions
15 Indivi-dual State a problem in the community that members care about (preferably related to their core values/passion). State possible solutions. Share with others Personalize the concept of community, problems and solutions
30 Group work Pick up a solution to a problem stated by a member. Discuss about the assumptions related. Example: the floating bag creator assumes that the product is affordable enough for students to buy, but it is not true –> Next solution: ask for sponsorship to reduce price or sell to social/government organizations to distribute Recognize that solutions for community must be tested and designed based on real context
  10 BREAK
Network 10 Relax. Yoga Stretch your arm up, your neck left & right, your shoulder, your waist back and forth. Your favorite sports? Do you exercises often? Sports make u healthier, more good-looking. Better-looking make u more confident to go networking. A study of nearly 300 Dutch advertising agencies, economists found that firms with better-looking executives had higher revenues. Students will practice those steps by themselves during break on upcoming camp-days Be encouraged to excercise and stay fit
10 Indivi-dual Draw your Network Tree. You may want to group 1st-level related people in your network. Organize your contact in a network tree
10 Indivi-dual Use your network. Think back to the problem you wanted to solve in community, how people in your network can help? (knowledge, finance, experience, network expansion, politics, partners, etc.) Utilize your network to enhance your solution plan
20 Present-ation Share with the groups your network tree and how you plan to utilize it Communicate verbally and visually your network plan
15 Group work Discuss on how to expand your network (event, organization, contest, blog, social media, etc.) Name the ways you get to have more valuable contacts
15 Roleplay Briefly explain about Personal Pitch. Activity: Imagine that I were a professor from a university that you want to aplly for and u met me in a happy-hour event. Impress me with your 1-3min Personal Pitch Start making a personal pitch
PM

Wrapup

10 Q&A Let one student summarize our whole day class and homework (core value, passion, community, assumption, network, the importance of exercises, personal pitch). Tmr we’ll have a lunch mission. Each of you will be assigned to use your personal pitch to make friend with a new person Understand key concepts. Be prepared for next class
DAY 2
Agenda Dura-tion Act Detail Goals/ Valuation
AM

Warmup

5 Homework review For having finished the homework, each student will prepare some notes and receive some customized notes by the coach. REMEMBER TO write down any ideas arising in the camp and take some short diary notes every night after day-camp. I will borrow your notes at the end of day 4 then return it to you on day 5 Keep in mind that ideas are everywhere, so we must keep searching and note it down always
Idea

genera

-tion

10 Case-study The story of Virgin Group: 1. The is no limit on the number of ideas you generate and actualize: Virgin has its “finger in every pie”, having the group diversified into 200 businesses, from airlines, to books, drinks, mobile, hotels, radio, etc 2. Good ideas may derive from failure. Eg: from  Virgin Cola to Innocent Drink. 3. Quick revision of case studies yesterday (Charity Water, Floating schoolbag) –> ideas come from community Be inspired by the story of an idea-generating genius
15 Indivi-dual Making connection among interest, relationship and environment Know that innovation is the result of connection between already known ideas
15 Indivi-dual Think in a new way 1: Word connections -pick a word (object) describing a problem you are trying to solve. Randomly pick a word not related to that object. Try to find a reasonable connection. Think out of the box
20 Group work Think in a new way 2: receiving one basic item. Brainstorm ideas how their objects can be used other than its original purpose. Start with examples. Think out of the box
15 Indivi-dual Come back to the problem you want to solve, state all possible and seem-to-be impossible solutions! One student presents it to other members. Keep the findings for the next class Personalize the technique of thinking out of the box
AM

Wrapup 1

10 Q&A Summarize some new concepts Remember new concepts
Market

-ing

5 Case study From a Ted Talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_sliced_bread): In the 1910s, Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread, focused on the patent part and the making part. But for the first 15 years, no one bought it. Reason: until Wonder came along and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, no one wanted it. -> Success is not always about what the product is like, but about you get your idea to spread, or not. And that’s the role of marketing. Recognize the significance of marketing. Be inspired to learn more from a marketing guru
  45 Presentation Each student will be guided to talk about one marketing aspect of the group project: Product (what, for whom, to solve what, how outstanding), People, Price (take into account cost, purchasing capability, market price; decide on price skimming/penetrating), Place (location/distribution channel), Promotion (materials , channels) Present your understanding of the concept in a specific context
  5 Talk One more P in marketing: Psychology Know some psychological tactics to influence consumer behaviors
AM

Wrapup 2

5 Q&A Remind about personal pitch practice during lunch
Marketing (cont) 10 Group work Quick review of the personal pitch practice during lunch. Receive a poster and colored markers and makes a promotional flyer for a business (creating the business idea based on the problems in the community brainstormed the previous day). Experience certain aspects of marketing, mainly promotion.
10 Have a quick look at some sample posters, what do you like and dislike in them? Charity water (https://tonyratazak.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/project1charitywaterfinal25.jpg), Travel (http://l.f26.img.vnecdn.net/2013/01/01/1-kielo-1367497214_500x0.jpg), toothbrush (http://l.f25.img.vnecdn.net/2013/01/01/13-toothpaste-1367497233_500x0.jpg). Quick introduction of color matching tool: https://color.adobe.com/explore/newest/?time=all Access to the sense of design and arts in marketing
5 What is your audience, your message, objectives? Be clear about design purpose
60 Name the company. Set a logo. Choose the color, the style. Draw the poster. Present flyer to the big group explaining its key points of information. Experience drawing a poster
PM

Wrapup

10 Yoga
5 Q&A-Homework Go home, post a status on facebook, tag our team members. Make it fun, feel free to choose post content (provided that it is legal and ethical). The post with most likes will get you a reward. Remember to take some notes on your mini diary notebook before going to sleep. Practice attracting your community on social media
DAY 3
Agenda Dura-tion Act Detail Goals/ Valuation
AM

Warmup

15 Talk Homework review. Check number of post-likes. Ask the reason for each post content. Evaluation. Award: a book “Những người làm chủ số 1 Việt Nam – The no 1 entrepreneurs in Vietnam”. Brief review of the book Think critically about promotion and personal brand. Be inspired to read resourceful books.
Evalua

-ting

ideas

Dang Le Nguyen Vu (presented in the book) was considered as crazy when he shared the dream to produce the top-quality coffee to export. 3 yrs after that Trung Nguyen was founded. It was 3 years of evaluating and elaborating he crazy idea
15 Group work Mapping ideas as ground, horizon, sky. Come back to the solution listing in the last class. Pick one example to analyze for the students the concept. Discuss how to make ground solution more innovative, sky solution more practical Define ground, horizon and sky ideas
15 Indivi-dual Each student practice mapping their own solutions into 03 types. Think of ways to improve ground and sky solutions Apply the understanding of ground, horizon, sky ideas to practical issue
15 Talk SWOT analysis introduction. Students can practice apply SWOT to their issues at home Get to know SWOT
AM

Wrapup 1

5 Q&A
Opera

-tion

Plan

10 Talk Process map: Supplier –> Input (raw material, plant, equipment, labor, skill/knowledge)–> Manufacturing –> Distributor–> Customer. Example of Trung Nguyen coffee product Get acquainted with process map
15 Group work Pick up one idea among students’. Analyze to decide on must-have inputs. Then find list of provider options –> choose supplier based on cost, reliability, quality, social/environmental impact Understand the process of choosing suppliers
10 Indivi-dual Each student work on their own idea to find must-have inputs and providers. Practice the process of choosing suppliers
15 Indivi-dual Draw your supply chain, present to the group Structurize a supply chain
15 Indivi-dual Building a team: map out the tasks and possible team members you may think of. Try to reasonably include at least one member in our group in your plan. Share with others Think about human resource management
AM

Wrapup 2

5 Q&A. Lunch task Practice your personal pitch with any students you feel interesting in the camp during lunch. Find out whether that person is suitable to be a member in your project or supporter for the project in some ways. Be prepared to share your conversation content with other members after lunch
PM

Warmup

10 Group work Share about the new person you met during lunch. What if that person were an investor? We need a rocket pitch!
Rocket

pitch

5 Video True Jean rocket pitch by Babson students (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-DmBBDREC8). –> Rocket pitch definition – 3min with 3 slides, biz presentation to attract investor, partners, collaborators, stating what you are doing and how it matters Recognize a rocket pitch
  20 Watch the video the second time with more pauses to define components of rocket pitches: Hook audience – Describe biz – Customer pain – Competitive Advantage – Passion – Opportunity – Call for action Describe the features of a rocket pitch presentation, its key components and how, why it is used
  5 Talk How to make rocket pitch? 1. Brainstorm. 2. Practice with audience. 3. Use timer. 4. Remember: Don’t go fast, don’t use technical jargon, don’t exceed time limit, don’t read slides Describe steps to prepare and develop rocket pitch. Identify best practices to make a rocket pitch
  20 Indivi-dual Brainstorm your rocket pitch Practice making rocket pitch
  35 Groupwork Present your draft rocket pitch. Gain feedbacks. Practice presenting rocket pitch
PM

Wrapup 1

10 Q&A. Yoga
Take

action

15 Indivi-dual Develop goal timeline for your project Practice making goal time
  10 Indivi-dual Identify the obstacles of your project + way to overcome obstacles Practice sorting out obstacles and back-up plans
  15 Group work One student presents goal timeline + obstacles. The whole group discuss the case. Present and discuss ideas of taking action
PM

Wrapup 2

10 Q&A Homework: Present your rocket pitch with a person who may fund your business or may know someone who can fund you. You may speak in Vietnamese, call that person, buzz that person on social media if you want. Record the feedbacks whatever it is. REMEMBER to write down any ideas arising in the camp and take some short diary notes every night after day-camp. I will borrow your notebook at the end of day 4 then return it to you on day 5
DAY 4
Agenda Dura-tion Act Detail Goals/ Valuation
Accoun

-ting

15 Group work Revise accounting concepts mentioned in bonding session. Asset=Liabilities + Equity. Test students’ understanding of A, L, E, debit, credit when applying relevant information in their projects: Eg. Intend to sell VYE YEA wrist band to campers as a business. Invest $50 from selling your old clothes to invest in wristband business. Borrow $50 from your sister (to be paid in 1 month). Purchase wrist with VYE YEA design at $50 total. Sell them for $200. Pay your sister $50. Understand basic accounting concept
  20 Talk Brief introduction of T-account, balance sheet, income statement, cashflow statement Understand more advanced accounting concept
  15 Demo Quick introduction of excel file with some basic techniques of sum-subtract-multiple-divide, etc Get to know some tools for accounting
  15 Q&A. Break
AM

warmup

10 Sharing Quick review of homework: how students did rocket pitch with people not in the camp? Do you think that person would fund your business or introduce you to someone else? Why? Recognize the relation of rocket pitch and funding
Funding

your

business

10 Pair-work State some Non-monetary funding you may think of Figure out non-monetary funding options
5 Talk Loan and interest Understand the concept of loan and interest
5 Talk Equity financing Understand the concept of equity funding
10 Pair-work Discuss on cost of capital. Read info in text book then summarize Think about cost of capital
15 Talk Note: Great ideas + passion = resource. Money does not hv to be a barrier. Key to acquiring money: 1. Meet as many ppl as possible. 2. Banks, lenders. 3. Save your own money. 4. Investors expect you to put resources into your biz. 5. Seek advice from experts. 6. Prepare a rocket pitch and a business plan Describe steps / tips to fund your biz
15 Groupwork Think back to the person listening to your rocket pitch yesterday, do you have another plan to persuade? Put the theory into practical context
10 Indivi-dual Think of people in your network who may fund you or introduce you to someone else. What about form of funding suitable for each? Put the theory into practical context
AM

Wrapup

10 Q&A
PM

Warmup

10 Case study The CEO of Ô Mai Hồng Lam studied at the Academy of Military Techniques, then studied abroad on camera, did business for years in textiles, then finally figured out his life passion with ô mai. But the startup is not a random success, it is the result of accumulated experience, network and skills gained from every work he had done. He acted, learnt and built. Some other examples. Entrepreneurship skills are accumulated from practice
Enterpre-

neurship

of all

kinds

20 Group work Name some people mentioned in the camp coursework so far or someone else you are interested in. Tell us the lesson you learn from them. Describe the personalities of real entrepreneurs
15 Indivi-dual Practicing entrepreneurship. Take note in your diary your goals for practicing entrepreneurship and your action to take. Then I will borrow your notebook for today. Personalize the goal
10 Group work Share your planned action with the group Present your goal to group
25 Game I will state 3 issues and corresponding current solutions with particular flaws. For each issue, you have 5 mins to write down as many possible better solutions you may think of. You now think as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is finding better ways to do better things. That’s all. Understand the key point of entrepreneurship. Recognize the entrepreneurship spirit in yourself
PM

Wrapup

5 Q&A
5 Yoga

You may also think of registering for an entrepreneurship camp or online course on Coursera or Edx. Again, it is better not to do it alone. But in case you can’t find any learning partners for now, just start doing it and inspire someone to join you later.

Good luck. Live sweet.

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