Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Guiding Rules (Part II)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Out of all of the blogs I have written about teaching business and economics to kids, the article that has had the fewest readers is my first one about my Biz Camp rules.

People don’t like rules. Especially tough ones with consequences. And yet, when we work for a company there are always rules to follow. Rules give context. They give structure. They define the boundaries. And they give a foundation. If you can’t live within the rules of the company you are working for, you probably don’t belong there.  I have found this to be too true.

You will see, as I continue these blogs, that the kids participating in the Biz Camp had a lot of flexibility once they started exploring the different aspects of business, but they had to have some place to start. As a matter of fact, as the camp went along, many of the kids wanted more rules. But, there are some parts of business that just don’t have cut and dried answers, which was the point of the whole exercise. So, the rules they did receive at the beginning became more important.

So, here are my other four rules:

Rule # 5: Be on time. Be on time. Be on time. Business people donate their time to teach these classes. And businesses donate classroom space. There is an old saying that time is money. It applies here. We do not want to waste anyone’s time, as there is a cost applied to it. Nothing is totally free. Participants will need to learn to be on time for when they work, when they get older.

Rule #6: Listen to what people are talking about at the different businesses you visit. You may think that what is being said is boring, but trust me, it will apply to your life in the future. If you do not understand, ask questions. And you will need all of the information for your final project. The more you hear, the better that final business plan will be.

Rule #7: Keep a list of words that are new to you. Business has its own language, as if it is a foreign country. Each part of business – finance, marketing, human resources, management and sales – has its own language. And each industry has its own vocabulary. It is kind of like Americans and the English speaking the same language, but it is different. Or talking in text-speak to your parents. Only when both the sender of the message and receiver understand the vocabulary being used is there actual communication. As the nubie, it is up to you to learn the business language, not for the people already there to use your way of communicating.

Rule #8: Take notes! If you do not know how, ask questions about what is important to write down. Notes are important for two reasons. First, you are getting a ton of information, a lot of it completely new concepts. You cannot remember it all. Second, you will be referring back to it on your final project. That final project will kind of be like an open book test, but a lot harder. 

Okay. I am done with the rules.

Next up, a few fun games to get the party started, before learning all about writing a business plan.

Lee Rennick is a freelance writer, former Vice-President of Marketing and past Executive Director of the Business Education Foundation of Rutherford County, TN. She shares her interests and knowledge about working, learning and living at This is blog is part of a series about how to teach business and economics to middle school students based on her time developing and coordinating the State Farm Summer Business Camp in Rutherford County, Tennessee for 10 years.

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