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Fourth Grade Smarts: How about Junior Achievement for business owners?

Every year I teach Junior Achievement classes in elementary schools. It does not matter how busy I am with ‘teaching’ business owners and lending professionals. I take time out because it is the right thing to do and I hope you will, too.

It is encouraging!

These kids get it. Sometime between the common sense of a ten year old and the adult years, something gets lost.

Example: The JA book defined a Resource as something people need. One of the students, Max, suggested it should define a Resource as something people need or want. I had to agree!

Planning a business…

The students were given about five minutes to come up with a business they might start:

  • Business name
  • Type of business
  • Good or service
  • Natural resources they might need
  • Human resources they might need
  • Capital resources they might need

They struggled with this assignment, particularly in the short time frame. When time was up I asked if it was hard. Their discouraged faces told the story. Yes, it was hard.

I told them it should be. That starting a business is hard. That there are a lot of questions to ask before they start. But that every business started just the way they started a few minutes ago, with an idea and a start on the questions.

Time for business owners to (re)ask questions…

Perhaps business owners (and maybe their lenders) should ask questions again. The disruption of the recession calls for it.

  • What business are they in?
  • What has changed for their customers and what has remained the same?
  • What resources do they need?
  • Who can help them answer the questions?

Some business owners never asked the questions in the first place. And most of us need to ask them again.

What questions would you add to the list?

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at www.LendersOnlineTraining.com, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.