Northwind Pharmaceuticals

The Future Is In Good Hands

in good hands 2About three weeks ago, my youngest son approached me with an entrepreneurial start-up project from his Microeconomics class at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their task was to model their start-up on an existing business and go through the planning process to map out the first year of operation. Not a bad project for three 17 year old students!

They approached me to schedule a meeting to ask questions about our pharmaceutical distribution company. During our first meeting, I was struck by their curiosity, incisiveness and enthusiasm. It was quite surprising considering none of these seniors has expressed any interest in pursuing a business career. They had an outline of questions from their class but we soon left that format as they dug deeper into how the business actually works. We spent over an hour in that first meeting exploring the pharmaceutical operation – I’ve had bankers show less interest and ask less intelligent questions!

Since that first meeting, the team has met several times at my home, though they really didn’t ask me much after the first discussion. As I’ve overhead them working on the project, I’ve smiled to myself on more than one occasion as they discussed their company. Here are a few comments that I’ve overhead that I thought were profound:

  • “I reduced the size of the floor plan because it doesn’t make sense to pay for this wasted space.”
  • “I think we should limit our inventory of controlled substances because of the extra costs and effort associated with regulatory compliance.”
  • “Let’s have the landlord pay the upfront costs for the temperature control system and charge it back in rent so we can reduce our start-up expenses.”
  • “The label printer should be placed closer to the packaging area to improve efficiency.”
  • “With the money we are saving on rent, we can put more into our printing capabilities.”
  • “I can justify you having a laptop because you will need to be mobile.”

And on and on… These seventeen year old students get it. Sure, it’s just the start but they are on their way.

It reminded me of how many day-to-day tasks, tools and processes I take for granted. It also reminded me of the world of discovery ahead of our budding entrepreneurs and management professionals. Most of all, it encouraged me to see and hear the intellectual wheels of these enterprising youths turning as they tackled the many challenges associated with starting and managing a business. Who knows, maybe one of these bright kids will come to me with a great idea – I would certainly take that call!

Most of all, watching these students confirmed for me that the future is in good hands.

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