If you have a young entrepreneur in Grades Six to 12 in your home, a regional business competition may be a way for them to explore their idea as a potential, or as a reality.

Andria Brady, General Manager with Community Futures Sunrise said they don't have to be in traditional school. 

"They can be in a home school setting and they can enter and compete as an individual, as a group, with a couple of buddies, or as an entire class," she clarified. 

It all starts with the youth(s) coming up with a business idea.

"This does not have to be something that has been an actual business or that they ever will do, it just has to be an idea they have," Brady noted. "They come up with their own idea, and they create a business plan, a simplified business plan, a simplified cash flow worksheet to talk about the expenses and the income that they're going to make. Then they create a website and then they enter, and if they want to earn some bonus points, they can create some social media accounts."

Some may wish to create a prototype if it's a product that they're making and they can do some digital creations, photos, videos, commercials, marketing materials, and more.

"Basically, they need to come up with an idea, write about it, figure out the money that's going to happen with it, and do a simple website, and enter."

The deadline to enter is November 14th.

"In order to enter, they have to provide us with their written business plan and their written cash flow as well, and then they are marked on all three items together," she explained. 

Over the years, Brady shared, the winners have been a cross-section of everyone from those who actually have a business operating or just do the work for a theoretical business. 

Some, she said, have gone on to operate that business in reality afterwards. 

"We've had products like jewelry, blankets, baking, and candies. We've had some pretty cool ideas like rock products, a hunting supply store, motor homes," she listed. "The ideas that they come up are just so neat to see the different kinds of ideas. Landscaping, clothing stores, clay designs, tutoring, just quite a broad range."

"Sometimes it's things that maybe they are familiar with in their own life, like berry farms and ranching, livestock production, that sort of thing," she elaborated. "So it just has to be an original idea. We don't want them to be, 'this was my mom's idea', or, 'this was an idea I got from somebody else', but their own idea. It doesn't have to be something that they're ever going to do, but just whatever ideas they have, we want their creativity to shine through, and they're good ideas."

Individuals, groups, or even entire classrooms can enter. 

"It's open to Grades 6 to 12, but we have two categories, so Six to Eight and then 9 to 12, and first place in each category is $500 cash, second place is $300, and third place is $150. Then we do have some other special awards as well."

While the ideas need to be original, teachers should note the program achieves the outcomes for the curriculum. 

"So it's a great way for them to accomplish that. Hopefully the kids are having fun while they're doing this too, so it is really a great way for the teachers to do that as well. And we do have on our website an entry form for teachers where they can enter all their students at once and then the students can also enter individually as well," Brady said.

"We do have quite a comprehensive guide available as well. I have already gone out to some of the schools either in person or virtually in done presentations and answered questions about the program, so I can certainly continue to do that."

There is no stipulation on how the winners use their prize money.

"There is no stipulation that it has to be an actual realized business," she explained. "There certainly have been some, but I would say that the vast majority have not been real businesses because of course, not every student is going to start a business."

She said they have typically had around 250 or more students enter the YouthBiz competition each year. 

Parents, in fact, usually notice early on when there's a budding entrepreneur in their home.

"Those people don't just get those business minds when they hit the magic age of adulthood," Brady elaborated. "That entrepreneurship is within somebody, certainly, and often students aren't quite as jaded as those of us as adults, and they have all these dreams and ideas. So this is really a great time to capitalize on those."

She said, "it would be a great story to find out five or 10 years down the road that one of our winners actually did go on to create that business and become very successful at it, so we would certainly love to hear those stories, too, down the road." 

"It's just an opportunity for them to to try it out and see what they think and some of them might go, 'you know what, that's a lot of work', or 'I didn't know all those things and I'm not sure that that's something I do want to do after all', and that's okay, too."

Brady noted that being an entrepreneur or in business is more than just coming up with a logo and making some business cards.

"There's a lot to it, and having that written plan and putting things down on paper can often clarify your thoughts, and also is an opportunity to go, 'oh gee, I never thought about that', or, 'that's something that might be a good addition', or, 'that's going to cost lots more than I thought', or, 'I could really make some money doing that'; 'I never thought of that added service or product'. So it just really helps that whole thought process."

CF Sunrise offers business plan templates and cash flow worksheets for free of charge on their website, along with all sorts of guides, tools, and templates to help those hoping to explore a business idea.

"For the purposes of YouthBiz, we have sort of simplified a business plan and a worksheet, so it's not quite as detailed as it would be for somebody going into business or looking at coming to us or another institution for some financing to start or expand."

"The youth are our future, so if this is a way that we can nurture that and encourage their creativity, we're happy to be a part of that for sure," she encouraged. "We just really invite people to reach out, whether it's the student, the teacher, a parent, another mentor, maybe it's an older sibling that's helping a younger one. All of the information is available on our website. Please reach out and we'll do our best to answer questions and we can come out in person or virtually and answer questions as well."

CF Sunrise can be reached over the phone at 306-842-1768 or via email at youthbiz@cfsunrise.ca. Their website can be found HERE.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll even have a surprise micro-loan or micro-grant for somebody who actually does want to start their business," she added.

"I would encourage students, teachers, and even parents, if you have questions about something in particular, certainly reach out and we'll make sure that we get those answered for you." 

Brady said they are actively seeking sponsors for the competition.

"lf there is a business or someone who wants to sponsor, and maybe wants to sponsor something in particular, especially with that added focus on the digital side of things with website and social media, we can certainly look at doing that as well." 

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