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September 1998

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Taking Care of Business

With job prospects so precarious, some students may want to consider owning and operating their own business. What better place to start researching an idea than on the web?

By Brad Ross

Some of your students may have created jobs for themselves this past summer – or wish they had. Others may already be looking at starting their own business after graduation. Whatever the reason, there are many excellent resources on the Internet for teachers who want to nurture these students’ creativity – a hallmark of the entrepreneurial spirit.

While the prophets of business and government tell us that small business is the single largest job creator in the country, only one in five new ventures ever live to see their tenth anniversary. Of those that fail, half of them do so in their first two years of start-up. Poor planning is cited as the root cause.

The ’net is resource-rich for those considering going it on their own, whether the business is Internet-based or not. Web sites can direct aspiring entrepreneurs’ creative minds to consider important business practices such as financing, market research and business plan development. They point out the pitfalls, where to turn for inspiration, and where and how to borrow money.

Use the web for all it’s worth. A success story may, one day, thank you for it.

Profit Magazine’s Entrepreneur Test

PROFIT Magazine bills itself as the "magazine for Canadian entrepreneurs." And with it comes a fun and telling test. The Entrepreneur Test is designed to rate your business potential. It claims there are no wrong answers, but some are clearly more right than others. For example, under the category of "character," the multiple choice question asks, "In my spare time I... a) veg in front of the TV; b) work out; c) socialize with friends and family; d)socialize, work out, watch TV, read – a bit of everything; or e) what spare time? I’m running a business here!"

Youth Opportunities Ontario

Say what you will about government; their web sites are generally very good. They’re content-heavy and well-focussed, something anyone doing research on-line appreciates. The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism nails it on both counts with their Youth Opportunities Ontario web site. Links to starting a business, loan programs and a young entrepreneurs program lead surfers through the seemingly labyrinth-like steps it takes to start a business. If the answers aren’t there, or you can’t find them, phone numbers and addresses of offices that can assist you are prominently displayed.

The MoneyHunter Business Plan Template

The dreaded business plan. Venture capitalists, banks, government – any organization you approach for financial assistance – will insist on a business plan. A business plan simply tells a story about who you are and what you do. Sure, it’s all in your head and you can recite your idea to anyone who will listen. All you have to do is put it in writing, right? But what if you don’t know how? The MoneyHunter web site offers some free easy-to-use templates for downloading. From there, it’s a fill-in-the-blanks process. But remember it’s just a template; you still need to write, re-write and proofread your plan until you’re satisfied. Sample business plans to get you started are also found on MoneyHunter’s site.

Canadian Youth Business Foundation On-Line

Young Canadians between the ages of 18–29 are represented by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. It’s billed as "a non-profit, private-sector initiative designed to provide mentoring, business support and lending to young Canadian entrepreneurs who are creating new businesses." Well-designed and graphically rich, this site offers a range of services, ideas and tips for young people. If you have Real Audio, you can hear a series of clips featuring advice on hiring, attracting media attention and advertising from business owners across the country. Well worth a visit.

Brad Ross is associate editor of Professionally Speaking and the College’s web editor. He can be reached by e-mail at