Ann Arbor entrepreneur Debra Power wishes she had been able to attend a course or summer camp about starting a business when she was a kid. To make that dream come true for Washtenaw County children, she's started an entrepreneur education program for middle and high schoolers called Running Start.
"When I was a kid, I did every camp you could imagine," Power says. She attended space camp, civics camp, and leadership camp, but didn't have the opportunity to learn about building her own business.
"I'm really passionate about entrepreneurship and youth," she says. "I am also interested in demonstrating that, in this community and really all of Michigan, there are opportunities to build a business, to grow, to stay, and be successful."
Power says the idea for Running Start also came from an experience with grade-school girls who were developing their entrepreneurship skills.
"Earlier this year, I was doing a badge workshop for Girl Scouts, and I was watching third-graders come up with business ideas," she says. "I was surprised how sophisticated youth are about entrepreneurship."
Power is an entrepreneur herself, having founded Power Marketing Research about 16 years ago. She's made many contacts in her years as a business owner and she received nothing but positive responses after asking her network for feedback on her brainstorm of hosting workshops for young entrepreneurs. She has since recruited many of those contacts to serve as mentors in the program.
In a series of four weekly mentor-led workshops, children will develop, test, market, and pitch a business idea. The workshops will have room for 25 middle school students for the morning session and 25 high school students for an afternoon session.
Power says she knows that not everyone will become a business owner, but entrepreneurial skills are important in any workplace.
"Today, people aren't sitting isolated in a cubicle doing their job," she says. "These days, most workers are asked to come up with new business concepts, to engage in new ways, to think creatively like a business owner."
The program launches Oct. 21 with an informational meeting for parents from 1-2 p.m. at GO Where Meetings Matter, 4735 Washtenaw Ave. After a sign-up period, workshops will run from Feb. 24 to March 17, and then another session of four workshops will start up April 21.
The series of four workshops cost $199, but scholarships are available. More information is available on the Running Start website.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Debra Power.