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Year 10 market their wares

Running a small business is a lot harder than it looks. Just ask our Year 10 Commerce students, who have been putting their classroom theory into practice by launching a business and selling their wares at Market Day.

At the end of last term, Social Science Teachers, Mr Lovett, Ms Zuo and Ms Craft set their Year 10 Commerce students a challenge: set up a small business selling their own brand of goods or services at a Market Day at School. As the students quickly discovered, setting up a business is not for the faint-hearted!

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They started out by conducting some market research – surveys, focus groups, word of mouth – to find out more about their target audience’s preferences. What do they like to eat at lunchtime and why? How much would they expect to pay? What about food allergies and dietary requirements?

Based on their research, the students then decided on a product to sell. But before they could start the fun part of creating their wares, they had to take care of the logistics. It was time to set some specific goals and establish a business plan.

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As they were self-financing their venture, the students had to put a system in place to create, manage and track their budget, negotiate and buy their supplies, set their pricing strategy, factor in their overheads, including taxes – which the teachers set at 25% – and calculate their projected profit margins.

As any small business owner will tell you, when it comes to setting up shop, location is everything. Mr Lovett created a map of the school grounds, marking out the location of the stalls. The students then had a week to consider their preferred location before bidding on it at auction – with the cost coming out of their budget. The students had to think strategically about accessibility, visibility and shelter. How would they display their branding so they could catch their customers’ attention and visually convey the personality and message of their business? How would they would display their wares so they would stand out from the competition? Would their stall be accessible to their target market? Was it worth paying more to secure prime position and optimal customer flow? How would this affect their bottom line?

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The students then set about creating their wares for Market Day, promoting them heavily across the School ahead of their launch day. On Market Day itself, there were colourful posters and signage, music and an abundance of stalls selling tacos, pasta, ice cream sandwiches, candy pizza, mocktails, churros, freaky shakes, chocolate dipped food, acai bowls, cupcakes and more. 

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Launching their own business was a huge learning curve for the students. They quickly learnt about productivity and efficiency, supply and demand. Some stalls discovered that they should have streamlined their processes or simplified their menus. Others discovered that tailoring to individual needs or customising their products took too much time, which affected their bottom line. Pasta proved extremely popular as it was pre-prepared and simple to serve.

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Market Day was all about risk-taking, planning, communication, teamwork and persistence. It opened the students’ eyes to the reality of setting up a small business – the challenges and the opportunities.

This week, the students are completing their business reports, complete with executive summary, financial statements and the insights they’ve gleaned from the experience. All profits will be going to a charity of their choice.

All in all, a great learning experience!

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