“I don’t have any ideas!” This is the most common excuse I hear when it comes to starting a new business.

But it’s our job as Simple StartUp guides to show our students the multitude of business ideas out there!

In the workbook, students are encouraged to look at their perceived strengths, interests, passions, skills, talents, and hobbies to find something that they could possibly monetize. They also are asked to start listening for pain points in society and see is there a way to pair the pain point with something they can already do or have an interest in.

The big challenge a lot of teachers face is the blank stare that comes with this.

  • “I don’t know what my strengths are.”
  • “I am not an expert in anything.”
  • “I don’t really have any hobbies or interests outside of school.”
  • “No one is complaining to me about anything that I can fix.”

This list goes on and on.

If you are being met with these barriers, consider a “collect and connect” session. This is a group exercise with either your entire class or a cohort of students. (Shout out to Don Wettrick from STARTedUP Foundation for coming up with the term ‘collect and connect”.)

In this method you ask students for a very specific example of something that annoys them. A great place to start is to ask about what bothers them about their school or community. Have them consider what causes them annoyance on a regular basis.

Let students call out or raise hands and start building a list on the board. Once you have hit a pause in the responses, draw a line under it and challenge students to come up with at least one more each on their own that night. When you come back, add them to the list. This is the first step in flexing that problem recognition muscle.

The aim is to get students to start seeing the problems in their lives and in the lives of those around them. Hopefully, they go ask other people for their complaints, or they walk the halls for the rest of the day with their eyes a little more open.

The ‘connect’ part of the exercise comes next.

Look at the list of problems and try to find ones that could be grouped together by common themes, locations, irritations, etc. and see if there are solutions that could fix multiple problems at once.

For example, if students listed “people borrowing my pens and not giving them back” and “I don’t have access to any food right after school before sports”, could a solution to both problems be to open a school store? Challenge the group to find more solutions to multiple problems.

Finally, let students opt to take on some of these solutions as their Simple StartUp if they are passionate about it, or set them loose to restart the exercise in another part of their lives.

Please don’t forget to share all the amazing Simple StartUps that your students come up with at www.thesimplestartup.com/stories

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