Tomorrow’s workforce is being built today. Can our education system keep pace with the demands of industry?
CEOs like Alibaba’s Jack Ma are looking for “people who have a strong sense of entrepreneurship, leadership and integrity. They need to be positive, creative, and resourceful; and at the same time resilient in the face of uncertainty, changing dynamics and constant challenge.” Alibaba is poaching talent from elite U.S. MBA programs to achieve this objective. But they are not the only employer looking for the self-starter, innovative, resilient and positive hard charging employee.
Let’s compare the stereotypical McDonald’s employee to employees at Chipotle…
$9 per hour and higher expectations
For years, McDonald’s has served as the first employer for teenagers across the United States. From the very inception of the restaurant chain, the McDonald’s brothers relied on teenagers to fill its workforce needs. Over the past decades, little has changed regarding teenagers flocking to fast food and retail chains to seek out their first employment opportunities. But, what has changed is the type of person businesses like Chipotle are willing to hire.
Let’s compare the stereotypical employee at McDonald’s to the employees that you encounter at Chipotle and Chick-fil-A. The former is more likely to seem uninspired and bored, similar to how Steve Ells, the CEO of Chipotle described his high school years working at McDonald’s. On the other hand, employers like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A deliberately seek out more enthusiastic employees. In fact, Chipotle actually has a list of 13 characteristics that they look for in potential hires:
- Conscientious 5. Infectiously Enthusiastic 9. Polite 13. Honest
- Respectful 6. Happy 10. Motivated
- Hospitable 7. Presentable 11. Ambitious
- High Energy 8. Smart 12. Curious
What does all that mean?
Entry-level employers Chipotle and Chick-fil-A have raised the bar for the standards of their employees and companies like Alibaba are not the only ones looking for positive, innovative and entrepreneurial future employees. This is great news for customers; it is comforting to know that employees are being held to a higher standard. For teenagers looking for future employment in entry-level positions, it is a warning that employers are looking for employees who add value to the company beyond completing a task, and can responsibly serve as ambassadors of the organizations brand. This is a huge shift in mindset from fast food giants like McDonald’s who have not previously focused on service and food quality to the extent of new companies like Chipotle. As a result, McDonald’s has found itself in a bit of a corporate crisis with lower sales and diminishing market share in an industry where they once dominated. Today, even managers at McDonald’s are looking for a different type of employee – apply and then complete a 60 minute psychological profiling assessment – it just got real at Mickey D’s!
Tomorrow’s Employee & The Entrepreneurial Mindset
The basic tenets of entrepreneurship offer critical building blocks for constructing better employees. Curiosity, innovation, customer satisfaction, brand awareness, and profitability are foundational to entrepreneurship and (once understood) they can have a profound impact on the value an employee brings to a company.
Let’s look back at Chipotle’s list of employee characteristics. #1 Conscientious, #8 smart, #10 motivated, #11 ambitious and #12 curious all lend to employee innovation and problem solving. Numbers 2 through 7 and #9 polite and #13 honest, center around the idea of a pleasant working environment and superb customer interactions. All of this essentially amounts to employees with an entrepreneurial mindset who see themselves as an extension of their company’s brand.
This is in stark contrast to MAD TV’s Bonquiqui of King Burger…Gurl, bye! RUDE!
Remember Calvin?! Bring Back CALVIN from the McDonald’s Commercials, circa 1992!!
Calvin from the corner is on his way to owning a McDonald’s!
A New Standard
Maybe company’s like Chipotle are not poaching MBAs from Princeton and Harvard but they do expect their employees to be hardworking, dedicated and caring individuals. Steve Ells learned that from his high school days as an McDonald’s employee and he then set a much higher standard for his employees at Chipotle at a much higher standard. It won’t take long for more companies to follow suit by learning from McDonald’s error in not making Calvin (from the corner) the example for their standard employee.
An understanding of how the quality of a company’s products and services impacts the financial bottom-line of a business can provide key insight for employees looking for job security. Participate in bringing money (increased sales) into the business then you will undoubtedly feel a stronger sense of job security. Embracing an entrepreneurial mindset and working for brands you believe in is pivotal for today’s workforce and increasingly important for future employees.
Is our education system prepared to produce entrepreneurial employees?
Let us know your thoughts below!
Yours in service,
If you search the words “business plan,” the information that comes back might make your head explode! There are a vast number of examples, templates, and even companies that you can pay (a lot of money) to write the perfect plan for you. Maybe some people have told you, “Nah. You don’t need a written business plan. What’s the point?” But then, maybe there are others who tell you that before you even begin your new business endeavor having a formal plan is imperative. So what are you supposed to do?
Some years ago, my father bought me a cook book. The book was filled with pages of glorious blue ribbon desserts. As I combed through the pages of this new book, one thing stood out to me. It was the way they explained how they arrived at this final perfect recipe. In their test kitchens, they tried so many different possibilities. This flour, that butter, leavening, sugars, and oven temperatures. Before going to print, they tried their final recipe many times over.
Before You Write, Test the Plan
The same logic can be applied to a business plan. A formal business plan, just like your printed recipe, is designed to be presented. Whether it is for possible financial investors, partners or a board of directors, you want the reader to be confident that you have done the work; that your plan is not a theory and will and does work in practice. It is important to have tested your plan before putting in ink. Just like grandma’s perfect pound cake, she never measured anything. For you, however, to pass it on, you have to measure everything. You know in your mind exactly what you want your business to do. You have done your market research, projected financial investments and profit and have a clear mission. But just like the written recipe, your formal business plan creates a blue print of standards to which you will adhere. Because you have been working your business, you have a clear understanding of what does and doesn’t work. And just like with the written recipe, you know when and how any changes will affect your plan, and what does or doesn’t work.
Once you have actually begun working on your business, the plan, in essence, writes itself. Through trial and error, of course, you mix all your ingredients, follow specific steps, and eventually, have the recipe that is ready to share with the world.
Here’s my business plan recipe. These are the key ingredients that I think make for a simple, yet effective plan.
Before you begin, grease and flour your 10” bundt pan.
3 cups of Customer Analysis – All purpose flour
All recipes, whether savory or sweet need flour. The reason why this is the first ingredient is because there is no business without customers. Knowing who they are and why/how they make their decisions to buy is the key to your success.
3 cups of Industry & Competitive Analysis – Sugar
Sugar is the only thing that can do its job. White sugar or brown sugar, there really isn’t anything that can take its place. Just like knowing who your customers are, knowing your industry is equally important. Is it on an up-trend or a down-trend? How much money was spent in this industry last year? Who are the leaders and who is my industry competition. What strategic alliances can I form? Your success hinges on these points.
6 Whole Marketing Plans – Eggs
In a cake, one egg probably won’t get your too far. And in business one marketing strategy won’t either. It’s not enough to turn on the lights and flip over the open sign. Your plan for marketing is like the eggs in your cake; it holds the whole thing together! You know your industry standards, who your competitors are and who your target customers are. But if they don’t know you exist, the whole thing falls apart! How are you going to bring them in the door? You aren’t going to mail postcards to teenagers (they won’t read it), and you aren’t going to rely on social media to advertise to senior citizens (they are too busy reading the newspaper/mail). Understanding how your customers want to communicate is imperative.
1 cup of Company Overview – Heavy Cream
Some recipes call for more, some less, but usually, just a cup will do. The liquid in every recipe is different, but necessary just like your overview. Imagine that the person reading your business plan document has never heard of you, and doesn’t know anything about your business. What should be their take-away? What do they need to remember about you and your company? This is the meet-and-greet section of your business plan. If you were to eloquently write down your elevator pitch, you could put it in this section. Keep this brief, as you’re going to be expanding on what you say here in the next few sections.
2 sticks of Mission, softened – butter
Baking is a science and so is business. Your mission, like butter is not only what holds things together, it also gives flavor. Your mission, whatever it is, is what your customers, investors, partners and employees “taste” in everything you do. Like the butter, you want your mission to be soft and easy to work with or understand. A mission statement laden with industry and scientific jargon won’t go down easily. Keep your language simple but compelling. While you’re thinking about your mission, mix the sugar and butter together until it’s fluffy.
½ teaspoon of Financial Planning- baking powder
This doesn’t seem like a lot of financial planning, but like your baking powder, a little goes a long way. You have to know how much money you need to start your business as well as how much it will take to sustain and grow. Without an “active” financial plan, your business, like your cake without leavening, will fall flat.
½ teaspoon of Operational Planning- salt
Finances and operations work together like leavening and salt. Your business needs a clear plan on how it will operate to thrive. As you develop your strategic plan, your plan for how you will operate your business is like the steps to those bullet points in your strategic plan. Like salt, how you will operate may seem like a tiny piece to the plan but it is absolutely necessary. And like salt, you can tell if it is missing.
2 teaspoons of Management Team- vanilla extract
Just like there are many different flavors of extract on the shelves, there are many different styles of management. I’ve chosen vanilla, but feel free to use whatever suits you best. Even personally, speaking you could be a hands-on or a hands-off manager. Maybe you want your business to be co-operational where everyone has a hand in how things are run. Maybe you want one person to lead the charge. Maybe you need supervisors in multiple areas to bring the whole thing together. Whatever flavor you chose, be sure that it is best suited for your taste as well as the people who will be working for and with you.
And we can’t forget the icing!
The first thing that is read in your business plan is your executive summary. But most suggest that this is the last thing to write. Why? The summary gives you a hint to everything that is in the pages to follow. When a cake is beautifully decorated, it makes you want some. If it’s not, people will just walk by. The same can be said for your executive summary. If it is not well-written, your audience is not going to want to read any further. After you’ve finished your business plan and have put all your “ingredients” together, you look back and sum it all up. Make it inviting and appealing so that your reader will look forward to learning or tasting more of what you’ve offered.
To frost this cake you will use 1 cup of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk and the flavoring of your choice. Mix it all together until smooth.
There are, of course, many more pieces to a business plan, depending on the type of business you have created. Those optional ingredients are all up to you.
For some extra added fun, if you mix the ingredients I have listed, you will ALSO have one of my favorite pound cake recipes! Now, turn your oven to 325 degrees. There’s no preheating in this recipe. Bake it for 1 hour and 15 minutes and DO NOT open the oven. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before icing.
When I was young, my mom would always tell me that school was my job. Today, I find myself saying the same thing to my child. But if your child is truly interested in making some money or starting a business, now is the right time to explore an easy, expense-free side hustle. Here is a list of some businesses your kids can start with very little help from you or money out of their (your) pocket.
Pet sitting/Dog walking: If yours is anything like mine, they have asked, begged even, for a pet. Cat, dog, rabbit, bird, even a gerbil; YUCK! Maybe you don’t want the full time responsibility of a pet. If you think you can live with an animal for a few days, allow your child to be a responsible pet sitter. Or maybe they can start with just being the neighborhood walker. This is an ideal after school job for your tween. They are just old enough to take the neighbors’ dog out alone. They get some outdoor time with the dog and you don’t have a full time pet commitment.
Babysitting: Maybe your child isn’t an animal lover but has a knack with small children. Babysitting could be the way to go. Parents are always in search of a trustworthy, reliable sitter. Organizations like the Red Cross offer training courses and certification. Your neighbors, with small children, will jump at the chance to have your certified child babysit. Good babysitters can make upwards of $13 dollars an hour, depending on the average rate in your area. And it may give them additional comfort to know that you aren’t too far away if something happens.
Office work: You and I both probably despise data entry. I used to let mine pile up until the last day and stay up all night to get it entered before the end of the month. UGH! But here’s an opportunity for your child to earn some extra money by doing the data entry work for you. An hour or two each day, with just a little training from you can be a win-win.
Reselling by Upcycling: Do you have a creative crafter at home? A budding creative may see the treasure in someone else’s trash. Finding free or inexpensive small furniture or clothing and making it like new and uniquely beautiful could be the perfect job for your junior crafter. Seek out a DIY/Upcycling Meetup group. The experienced upcyclers can lend some know-how and also tell you where to find the best stuff. Craft stores, like Michaels and Home Depot, offer classes in a number of different crafting subjects like mosaic tiling and decoupage. Even small items like vases or picture frames could fetch a great price on ETSY or other crafter’s marketplaces.
Helping Hands/Odd jobs: Where we live, the threat of snow lasts until, at least, mid March. There will be plenty to shovel. Helping neighbors, especially the elderly ones, can be a great job for your outdoorsy kid. Spring planting, yard help, lawn care, and especially leaf raking can haul in some big bucks for a job well done. While the younger ones may not be ready to use the lawnmower, older kids can increase their services by offering not only yard maintenance but also lawn cutting. Jobs like painting, hanging or removing wallpaper can be quite exhausting, but could be perfect for your kid. Most local home improvement stores, like Home Depot, offer DIY courses in a plethora of different home improvement tasks. Cultivating skills is a perfect way to help your child build a successful business. Inside the house, an older neighbor may need some help cleaning up or cleaning out an unused room. This can be not only a great job but also an exciting history lesson as your child may discover some vintage treasures buried in your neighbor’s home.
Tutoring: Do you notice how proud your child feels when they have done a good job with an assignment or project? Why not help your child help another have this good feeling as well. Starting an after school tutoring business could be the perfect fit for your young smarty pants. Most schools encourage peer tutoring and will provide library or classroom space for the tutelage. Peer tutoring usually works well because, let’s face it, we don’t have any clue how to do that “new” math!
Whatever part time business you and your child settle on, keep in mind that this is their commitment. It won’t work unless they do. There are many options to explore and even a combination of different things. These decisions are based on their time and interests.
And hey, let us know what you’re doing! We’d love to hear about your child’s new business venture!
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend whom I consider to be a super sales person. Listening to his advice on how to market our product made me excited! Have you ever encountered that natural-born sales person who makes you want to give them every last cent in your wallet? Their excitement and charisma makes you excited about whatever their product or service is and you become much more inclined to buy. While charisma and charm aren’t things that can be taught, they can be practiced. The key is self confidence. With practice, any child or adult, can hone the communication skills necessary to be a resilient business owner. The following are several techniques that you can use to help your young entrepreneur turn into a Super Sales Person!
# 1 Keep the Conversation Going
One of the easiest way to get your kids comfortable with talking about themselves is to ask probing questions. Start with simple things like the school day. Don’t ask simply, “how was your day?” That will only glean a “fine” response. Tell them instead to tell you about their day. What happened in science class? What did you work on in art? I take the friend approach when engaging conversations about the school day. This gives my child the freedom and security to speak freely without judgment. When they feel safe discussing the small things, they will be more inclined to talk about the big things. The more confident the feel the easier it is to talk about things that they feel are important. Once they start talking about school and fun things, switch the conversation to their business. Talk about their business ideas, plans and goals. Having a friendly conversation will get them talking and feeling self-assured.
# 2 The Semi-stranger Test
The next step to making your kid a super sales person is to test their ability to talk to your friends. It may be someone you are familiar with but whom your child only knows in passing. By now you have been grooming their communication skills when they talk to you and other family members and close friends. Now, you want them to talk to people they aren’t as familiar with. Set up the conversation so they can talk about their business and let them go. It may be a good idea to advise your friend that this is a test, of sorts, so they will understand what you are practicing with your child. With their confidence building, they should feel at ease in this controlled situation.
# 3 Hit the Streets
Now, they should be ready to talk to strangers. The important thing is that they feel at happy and assertive. They are well-versed in their product or service and have a clearly defined mission. We all have to swallow our fears of talking to strangers. These are things that you should let your child know also. What is most important is that they are comfortable and confident talking about themselves. What they are selling is far less important than HOW they are selling it. If they approach it with fear or as a chore, it will become painfully boring and tedious. This should be fun! Every time they are ready to hit the streets you should take time to practice what they are going to say.
Meet A Young Entrepreneur that is a…Game Changer
Asia Newson is an 11 year old entrepreneur. She is a MASTER marketer. Asia is a charismatic charmer who sells HERSELF! Her business, Super Business Girl, sells homemade candles at local venues and online. When Asia encounters people on the street, fearlessly, she approaches and delivers a dynamic pitch. What sets Asia apart is her sales strategy. Watch this ABC News report and learn how Asia has cornered the sales market with her dynamite technique!
Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!
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