Pushing Through: Running a Small Business
Hi my name is Thomas W, and this year in sixth grade math class we are starting and running small businesses to learn about micro finance, specifically through an organization called Kiva. At the end of the school year, we'll lend all of our profits through Kiva. What I'm learning so far is that starting a small business is harder than it seems...
Communication and Collaboration
One of the Global Competence categories I have learned about in these past few weeks is communication and collaboration. We’ve had to work together as a team to complete various tasks, such as coming up with a product, writing our business plan, filling out our loan and bank applications, and creating multiple spreadsheets. I think the hardest task for us was filling out the loan application because we didn’t understand some of the questions.
Another one of the Global Competence categories I think I learned about was problem solving. This is closely linked with collaboration because we had to collaborate to solve problems, such as the ones listed in the previous paragraph and making decisions. So far, this project has put my problem solving skills to the test more than any other journey I have embarked on in my puny lifetime. Although the problems we were facing weren't nearly as significant as the ones faced by people all around the world, I think they were challenging and we wouldn't have been able to get through them if we didn't have each other.
Situations Where My Group Used Communication, Collaboration, and Problem Solving
Deciding on our product
Filling out our loan application
Writing our business plan
Making our spreadsheets
Filling out our bank application
So far, our business has been going fairly well. We got up and running, and are now raffling a Kindle Fire tablet. As well as it has been going, one challenge for us has been advertising. At first, we spent a lot of money on marketing, but didn't fare well in our first sale. We then dismissed advertising, which was a big mistake for us. Fast forward about a month, and we have to change our marketplace to a less central location because we were clogging up walkways. In the first sale at this location, our pruduct was a big hit. Other groups struggled, however. We were given the advice of advertising more but no one really did anything. Fast forward to the day of our second sale at this new location. We came in with high hopes that were quickly doused. Everyone wanted to watch the basketball game being played a floor above us, and nobody really knew the sale was actually happening. We went up and tried to advertise at the game, but we were too late. In the future, we intend to use more advertising, perhaps in a joint effort with other businesses. I believe that in this situation, we had to use coping and resiliency to get through this dilemma. Also, although this seems difficult for me, other people in the world have to persevere through much tougher situations, which I think ties into the complexity of world issues. Although this project is not done I feel I have already learned so much.
It's hard being a borrower in micro finance. Waiting for your loan to be funded, worrying about the success of your business. But I thought the hardest part was all the forms you had to fill out. And this is just in the simulation! Imagine the real thing! Mountains of forms to fill out. And then actually using the money. What if something goes wrong? What if there is a natural disaster that destroys your business. Or if someone robs your money? That's why we put our money in the bank. For financial security.
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
I think this quote represents our our journey because there are a lot of statistics that can represent our project, but what matters most is all the learning we did.
Although I've experienced having to use many global competency traits throughout this long journey, I think it all boils down to comfort with the new and unfamiliar. This project has been full of new experiences, from just running a small business to learning how to use and make spreadsheets. I've learned so much from new experiences in the project trying new things is how you learn. You won't get everything the first time, even though most of the time you wish you could. Sometimes the process is more important than the product.