Student entrepreneur enjoys a taste of the business world
As a business owner, Rodney Harrison just wanted to keep the shareholders happy.
"The whole purpose is to give back to the stockholders," he says. "The more you have, the better the business."
But Harrison isn”t a major corporate executive – he”s a junior at Brookwood High School. With the help of Junior Achievement, he was able to start and maintain a business through a semester of school and learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship – all while juggling the demands of teenage life and a spot on the football team.
Along with several other students, Harrison formed a coffee and candy business known as The Golden Cs. Before selling the products, Harrison and his fellow businesspeople had to go out and sell stock in the company for $2 per share.
"The shareholders were people in the community," he says. "I did have to let them know that it wasn”t a scam, that we were just starting a business and trying to sell stock."
When it came time to market and sell, the students learned the various tricks of salesmanship.
"We learned how to promote products with packaging and signs, how much of the product to make, how to keep track of money – and how not to lose money," he says. "We sold mostly to neighborhoods with kids – the candy would appeal to the kids and the coffee would appeal to the parents." At the end of the semester, each student got a check for $10 or $12 for the charity of their choice.
Golden C”s stockholders were rewarded with a healthy return on their investment, earning about 25 cents per share. "We were fortunate. It was due to the support we had and the products that we sold. We were pretty successful."
Harrison is one of more than 7.5 million students who participate in JA programs across the world. Established in 1919 and active for generations now, the organization teaches students in all grade levels about finances and the working world. There are currently about 240,000 volunteers, ranging from business professionals to college students and retirees.
In the end, Harrison walked away with valuable experience. "I learned how to run a business and how it works," he says.
For more information on JA Worldwide and how to become a volunteer, visit www.ja.org.