Students learn how to start businesses

Trinity Malm (left) and Cheyenne Bernhardt share their excitement for business they are operating, called Rewind and Refresh, which specializes in transferring VHS tapes onto a DVD format.

It didn?t take long for Nathan Hiebert to realize it was hard to teach business entrepreneurship principles from of a textbook.

The Hillsboro High School business teacher said his educational background was more in book-friendly areas such as accounting and personal financial planning.

?I tried to teach entrepreneurship from the book, but I realized that really doesn?t work well,? Hiebert admitted in a Chamber of Commerce presentation last week. ?But most entrepreneurs like to create and explore, and actually start a business,?

And that?s exactly what his Entrepreneurship class has been doing over the past two academic years through the school?s Pathways program.

?Last year we had four businesses that we started,? Hiebert said. ?Three didn?t continue, and only one is trying to continue.?

The continuing business is D&D Custom Engraving, operated by sophomores Dakota Klein and Dylan Wiens, who can provide personalized laser printing on glasses, plaques, metal and other materials.

Emerging businesses

Several new ventures are currently in the planning stages with a launch target of December or January.

Sell 4 You, operated by senior Kalen Moss and junior Brittany Schale, seeks to help people sell items online through established sites such as eBay, craigslist and even Marion County Buy/Sell/Trade.

The two business partners are aiming to serve people who may have items to sell, but don?t have the technology or experience themselves to sell online.

A second business, Rewind and Refresh, operated by freshmen Cheyenne Bernhardt and Trinity Malm, offers to transfer old VHS tapes to a DVD format.Kalen Moss (left) and partner Brittany Schale explain how their business, Sell 4 You, can help people sell items on established online sites.

Sink or Swim, developed by freshmen William Spaich and Kyle Horton, sells football jig head fishing lures.

Sticky Situation, a business being developed by junior Katelin Riddle, freshman Maria Nieto and sophomore Mackenzie Bartel, creates personalized window decals for parents and others who want to show their support for their student?s activities.

Catalina Designs, which develops and sells Mason jar art, is the brainchild of freshman Corina Zapata.

Getting started

New businesses require start-up funding. Students can present a formal request for a ?loan? of up to $1,000 from one of two participating local banks, Emprise and Hillsboro State.

The banks actually donate the funds to the school district, Hiebert said, but students are challenged to pay back the loan with revenue generated by their business.

Of the four business that were launched a year ago, ?almost all of them were able to pay back those funds?one still owes about $50,? Hiebert said. ?The rest of them paid back the money and had a little funds left that they could actually keep. Nathan Hiebert describes the Entrepreneurship class he leads at hillsboro High School as part of the school?s Pathways program. Six school-based business have developed during the first two years of the program.

?The goal is this is a business that they can run and function,? he added. ?Our (school) board passed a policy this year that 70 percent of all net profits would go back to the student and 30 percent would go back to the district.

?That 30 percent would come back as true-life overhead because student would pay for utilities and a lot of the equipment that they have to use.?

State support

Hiebert said, ?Our school facility has some pretty amazing equipment that students have access to that can be used to help provide services to our community here in Hillsboro.?

But that?s not always the case.

One additional school-based business currently in the developing stage is ?CJ?s Designs? spearheaded by Caleb Rempel. The freshman plans to print and sell personalized T-shirts and other garments using a direct-to-garment printer that became available locally.

The cost to acquire the professional printer far exceeded the usual loan limit, but the school qualified for a $14,500 grant through the state, which supports the hands-on-learning emphasis of Pathways.

?This is what he wants to do for his life,? Hiebert said of Rempel. ?He want to be an entrepreneur, and so he loves this aspect. Hopefully, he can take that and it will be another business we can start.?

Multiple opportunities

Business is only one of many Pathways available to students at Hillsboro High.

?I believe we have 20-some different Pathways that students can pursue?like medical, engineering, business and other areas,? Hiebert said.

?In business alone, we have a finance pathway, we have an entrepreneurship pathway?a variety of different options for students to go through,? he said.

?It?s an amazing opportunity for students to really start in high school to explore their majors before they get to college.?

Hiebert said he and former principal Max Hein?richs, who pioneered the Pathways program in Hillsboro, began talking about ways the entrepreneurship program could make a difference in their hometown.

?Last year, we actually said, ?Let?s give it a shot,?? Hiebert recalled. ?Instead of teaching entrepreneurship, we said let?s just start businesses and go through the process of learning how to get businesses started.?

Students who signed up for Hiebert?s Entrepreneur?ship class got to choose their business partners, or they could choose to work by themselves.

The students were then required to create a business plan that they then presented to a Pathways advisory com?mit?tee comprised of 10 members, several of whom were local business persons.

?I thought that was a really good experience,? Hie?bert said of the interaction. ?Students had to share their ideas, and since many of (the advisers) are business people, they had a lot of questions, so the students had to work through those and fine tune their business plan before they started.?

Challenges remain

The Entrepreneurship class is off to a strong start, but it?s encountering challenges, too. One of them is finding time for students to address their business enterprises amid an already rigid class schedule.

?That?s one of the hurdles we?re trying to work out,? Hiebert said. ?Some of the businesses from last year would have liked to continue, but it didn?t fit into their schedule to have any structure this year.

?I would love to see a freshman, if they desire this and it goes well, that they could continue (their business) all four years,? he added. ?When they?re done with that, if it?s really successful, they can sell it off as a successful businesses to someone who?s coming into (the class).

?We want to treat this like it is a business.?

In the meantime, Hiebert said he sees mutual benefits to staying connected with the Chamber of Com?merce.

?Students have a different perspective, and sometimes their thought process can be very beneficial for our business?let?s give it a shot,? he said.

?If we can partner with your business, I think your wisdom and your expertise is invaluable to these students. That?s one reason we wanted to share what?s happening at Hillsboro (High).?

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