Obtaining Resources Home Page

From the Publisher

Preface

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

References

Index (Search Engine)

Moursund's Websites

Chapter 11: Entrepreneurship

Grant funding is often a "one-shot" affair. What do you do after the grant funding ends? This chapter discusses three entrepreneurial types of answers.

Moursund, D.G. (2002). Obtaining resources for technology in education: A how-to guide for writing proposals, forming partnerships, and raising funds. Copyright (c) David Moursund, 2002.

 

Section Headings for Chapter 11

Starting a Personal Business

A Business Within an Existing Organization

Piggybacking on a Grant

Some Entrepreneurial Ideas

Edutainment Review Newsletter

Professional Writer

After-School Program

Web Page Developer

Activities

Grant funding is often a "one-shot" affair. What do you do after the grant funding ends? Of course, you can always write more proposals. But, you might also want to give serious thought to an alternative approach--become an entrepreneur. This chapter discusses three approaches.

  1. Go out and start a personal business. Build on your current areas of expertise and become an entrepreneur. You may gain some income tax advantages in the process, and you avoid becoming dependent on grant income.
  2. Use your school's facilities, students, and resources to set up a business. Profits from the business can be used to acquire additional facilities for the school and to support other project ideas. This business can continue year after year, providing a steady income stream.
  3. Make use of your grant funds to develop products and services that can become the basis for a continuing business after the funding ends.

Starting a Personal Business

It is very easy to start a business. Think of some business you can start that will generate some income. Make up a name for your business, and begin conducting business. (Of course, the chances are that you will also want to hold onto your current job. It can take a substantial amount of time and investment to start a business that will provide you with a good income.)

For example, suppose you a teacher who has the knowledge, skills, and contacts to do staff development and consulting in educational technology. You make up a name for your consulting business, print up letterhead, and find a paying client. You conduct one or more workshops which have income and expenses. Be aware that expenses may include subscriptions to staff development journals, attendance at workshops on how to do staff development, and various other professional activities related to being in that business. The next time you file a federal income tax return, you use Schedule C to report the income and expenses of your business. You have established a legitimate enterprise!

There can be considerable income tax advantages to establishing a business. If you set up a personal business that generates income, you can use the business to acquire computer hardware, software, books, periodicals, and other materials. If you follow the tax laws appropriately, the cost of your facilities and materials are a business expense and will decrease your income tax. You can write off certain expenses, such as travel and phone costs associated with the business. In essence, reducing your federal, state, and local income taxes is a resource. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is suspicious of businesses of this sort that have little income and consistently lose money, and may consider them to be illegal tax dodges.

If your business is relatively simple, the tax-filing rules are also relatively simple. However, it is easy to get into complex situations. For example, many people conduct businesses using part of their home as an office. There are relatively strict rules about writing off home expenses and depreciating the part of a home used for business purposes.

Of course, the tax-filing situation gets more complex if you have business partners, employees, an inventory of products, and so on. You may decide that you need a professional accountant in these cases.

You may want to incorporate your business. This is relatively easy to do. There are a variety of corporate structures for small businesses. Legal help may well be desirable and/or necessary.

A Business Within an Existing Organization

You may want to set up a business endeavor within your school, college, or other place of employment. For example, you and your students may produce instructional materials such as software and print materials. You may want to sell these materials to students and teachers in your school and at other schools.

You and your students might develop a product, such as an inexpensive folder for turning in assignments that holds both papers and a computer disk. Your students might manufacture this product and sell it through the school store. Perhaps your intention is that profits will be used to buy computer hardware and software for use by your students.

Clearly you need to check with your organization about the details of this kind of business activity. Who actually owns the products? Who gets the profits? Are you allowed to use your organization's name in marketing your products? What resources of your organization are you allowed to use? Who faces the legal liabilities of the business? These issues need to be carefully explored before you get started.

Setting up a business within a school or having a school contract to perform services is becoming increasingly common. For example, a teacher and a group of students can develop the skills to produce a CD-ROM or DVD, or set up a World Wide Web page. They can contact local companies and offer their services. They can be paid money or receive other resources, such as computer hardware and software. This is a "win-win" situation in which the students, the school, and the business all benefit.

Another strategy is to use school resources and students to go into the training and consulting business. Workshops can be designed for teachers, parents, business people, and other groups. These are conducted using the school's facilities, with students playing a major role in the overall operation.

Still another example involves the use of school facilities and student labor to set up a desktop-publishing or Web service bureau. This service bureau may have students, teachers, school administrators, school support staff, parents, and local businesses as clients. Students running the business gain valuable experience. Indeed, the business may be created and run as part of a course. If the business is reasonably well run, it can generate income that more than pays for the use of school facilities.

Piggybacking on a Grant

Many grants are for research, materials development, or implementation. The Resource Provider is usually interested in seeing the grant's effect continue after funding ends. Indeed, this is often one of the evaluation criteria in grant competitions.

In recent years, federal agencies funding projects that involve materials development have been particularly interested in wide-scale dissemination of the materials. Thus, they have come to expect that such proposals will include a tentative agreement with a commercial company that is in the business of publishing and selling curriculum materials.

There are a number of companies that began by producing and selling materials developed through federal or other grants. You may want to begin developing entrepreneurial ideas when you initially begin thinking about a grant proposal. Can some component of the grant lead to the development of materials and services that will serve as the starting point for establishing a business?

As an example, the Math Learning Center (MLC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with offices in Salem and Portland, Oregon. This corporation resulted from a five-year National Science Foundation systemic initiative grant for math education carried out in Oregon between 1971 and 1976. A number of the key leaders from that multimillion dollar project joined together to form the MLC. It carries out inservice education programs throughout the country, andit develops and sells curriculum materials.

Some Entrepreneurial Ideas

Edutainment Review Newsletter

Mary notes that many of her students use edutainment software extensively, both at school and at home. She notes that the software varies considerably in its educational value and is often more entertaining than educational.

She discusses this issue with her students. Together, they decide to publish an edutainment newsletter for students and parents. It will contain evaluations of edutainment software, with articles discussing how to make more appropriate educational use of the software.

Mary and her students establish an Edutainment Review Newsletter business within their school. They sell newsletter subscriptions to parents of students at their school and other schools. Proceeds are used to pay for printing and distributing the newsletter. Additional profits are used to buy equipment for their classroom.

Mary has still larger goals. She and her students develop a workshop that is designed for parents and their children. She and her students write to software publishers, seeking preview copies of edutainment software. Mary gradually develops a number of components of her classroom curriculum around the theme of running a newsletter, workshop, and software preview center business.

Professional Writer

Tom majored in journalism while in college, and he is a skilled writer. As his knowledge of educational technology grows, he notes that many of the articles he reads about the subject are poorly written.

Tom begins to write educational technology articles and submit them to paying publications. That is, he establishes himself as a professional writer. He has expenses, and eventually he expects to have income, both of which will be reported on Schedule C of his federal income tax return.

As Tom's skills and contacts improve, he begins to secure some writing contracts. For example, he contracts with his local newspaper to report on a statewide technology-in-education conference. Tom's travel expenses, registration fee, and lodging are all legitimate business expenses.

Tom expands his business still further by developing a workshop on technical writing. His workshop is targeted toward business employees who need to do technical writing but have poor technical writing skills. Tom develops workshop materials that eventually grow into a short book. Tom desktop publishes and markets the book.

After-School Program

Pat notes that in her elementary school, the computer labs are not used after school, largely because the school requires that the computer labs be supervised by an adult when they are in use.

She decides to form a group of parent volunteers. She obtains approval from the school administration and the school's PTO. She and the parent volunteers supervise a computer lab after school. Students must buy a lab pass in order to use it. The cost is $1.00 per hour of lab use. All proceeds from the sale of these passes go into a general school fund used to acquire more computer facilities.

Some of the parent volunteers solicit contributions from local businesses. These are used as scholarship funds to buy passes for students who cannot afford to purchase them. Some of the parent volunteers do the recruiting and training of volunteers so that a smooth transition of volunteers occurs from one year to the next.

Web Page Developer

Kim teaches in a high school that is a leader in use of computer technologies. She pioneered in getting the school onto the Internet and then onto the World Wide Web.

Kim regularly offers a year long course on the development of hypermedia documents and Web pages. In the course, students work together in small teams, developing materials for teachers in their school. It is generally acknowledge that her students do "professional level" work.

Some of Kim's students want to continue doing Web page development in a second sear course. Kim contacts with several local businesses to see if they would like to have Web pages developed. She finds that there is considerable interest, and that the businesses are willing to pay well for the service. Kim makes arrangements through the school for her students to undertake this work, and for part of the money to be paid directly to the students. Both Kim and some of her students get summer jobs through their business contacts.

 Activities

  1. Develop an entrepreneurial idea involving educational technology that could be implemented within an existing organization such as a school.
  2. Develop an entrepreneurial idea involving educational technology that is most appropriately implemented as a personal business.
  3. Examine a grant proposal that is about to be submitted or that has been funded. Analyze it from an entrepreneurial point of view. Can the proposed project be used to establish a continuing business?

Top of Page