5 top tips for coming up with a great business idea

The beauty of the School Enterprise Challenge is that participants are welcome to set up any kind of business they desire. Students are encouraged to look at the resources already available around them at their school and to think of how they could turn them into a profitable business.

Top tip #1: Remember to refer to the Business Guides 1, 2, 3 & 4 – they contain all the activities and examples your team will need to come up with a fantastic business idea!

What kind of businesses do schools usually set up?

Over the years schools set up an incredibly wide range of businesses. Some of the most popular types of businesses include:

  • Farming (vegetables, fruit, chickens, rabbits)
  • Textiles (T-shirts, dresses, school uniforms, jute bags)
  • Food Production (cakes, juices, snacks to go)
  • Entertainment (party planning, musical band, theatre troupe)
  • Handicrafts (jewellery, decorations, notepads)

Some of the most innovative businesses that have been set up as part of the School Enterprise Challenge include a Cooperative Bank in Peru, Aquaponics (fish rearing) in Uganda and a Talent Identification and Development Agency in Zimbabwe!

Range of businesses montage

Get your inspiration from real life examples

Below are 3 real-life examples of how schools taking part in 2018 have come up with fantastic business ideas!

1st School of Arvaikheer1st School of Arvaikheer, Mongolia: This group of 20 enthusiastic young boys are taking part in the School Enterprise Challenge for the first time. They carried out a resource assessment and spoke to people in their local community and brainstormed 5 business ideas as a team: 1 – Making tables from old car parts; 2 – Making air masks; 3 – Making handbags from old textiles; 4 – Setting up a bike rental and repair business; 5 – Making homeware from recycled materials.

To decide which business idea was the best they split up into smaller groups and each group had to do a short presentation, sometimes called an ‘elevator pitch’, on a different business idea. They then held a vote and the business idea with the most votes was setting up a bike rental and repair business.

Top tip #2: Involving all members of the business team in the brainstorming process and allowing everyone to vote on their favourite is a fantastic way to make the whole team feel valued and invested in the success of the school business!

Greensprings launch event (2)Greensprings School Lekki, Nigeria: This group of students also began its entrepreneurial journey by brainstorming 5 business ideas as a team: 1 – Selling pizza and lemonade; 2 – Organising film screenings; 3 – Setting up a mini-mart; 4 – Renting out books; 5 – Setting up a videogame centre.

In the end, they decided to set up the mini-mart for 2 very good reasons:  “The Mini-mart can be open for business at least 6 days in a week, giving the students more opportunity to run a real business” and “Some of the things to be sold (stationery) will meet the students’ academic needs.”

Top tip #3: As well as thinking about profit, we really encourage teams to consider learning opportunities for students, impact on the environment and sustainability when choosing their business idea!

Arjun Boarding High SchoolArjun Boarding High School, Nepal: This group of students took their first steps in entrepreneurship back in 2017 when they set up their organic fruit and vegetable farming business. They started off small and after a fantastically successful year in which they generated nearly $600 profit they were awarded the Bronze Certificate. They’ve now returned in 2018 on the Silver Level where they have decided to diversify their product range to include pickled food products!

They chose to add this product because it can easily be produced hand in hand with their existing products and their customers expressed a demand for it.

Top tip #4: Once your team is comfortable operating the business, you should consider adding more products to your range. By doing this you’ll not only be able to generate more profit but also involve more students in the business and allow them to develop important life-skills such as problem solving and leadership!

Want some more inspiration from the School Enterprise Challenge community? Check out some of the fantastic student-led businesses being set up in 2018 in this photo album on Facebook.

Top tip #5: Check out this video before completing your Business Idea template – it explains all the key points to watch out for!

Has YOUR SCHOOL registered for the School Enterprise Challenge 2018? It’s not too late! You can take part for free here.


tamtf - wEEK 1This article was written by Christophe, our Community Engagement Officer. He loves hearing how students are getting on with their businesses and sharing success stories. Do you have a story you’d like to share with the rest of the School Enterprise Challenge community? Simply send Christophe an email to info@schoolenterprisechallenge.org and he’ll make sure it happens!

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About School Enterprise Challenge

The School Enterprise Challenge is a global awards programme for schools to establish innovative school-based businesses. Our easy-to-use resources help students and teachers to plan, set up and run their very own business at their school. As well as generating extra income for the school, students get to enjoy a real, hands-on entrepreneurial experience and develop essential life skills on the way. All schools (primary, secondary and vocational) from all countries are welcome to take part for FREE! To find out more and register for the School Enterprise Challenge 2017, visit the website: www.schoolenterprisechallenge.org
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