Learning Adventures in Citizenship
Episode 3Topic 4
Focus On Business
Get Rich Quick!

In the period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century, the economies of New York City and America grew by leaps and bounds. In those years, the country became the largest industrial power on the planet and New York became--next to London--the leading financial center of the world. There were opportunities all around--if you were smart enough, or hungry enough, or ambitious enough. Of course, for every opportunity, there was danger. The economy of the late 19th century went through many booms and busts. In the latter, thousands went out of business and millions lost their jobs.

Have you ever thought about making your fortune in business? In this activity, you will have the opportunity to try your skill and luck at the game of getting rich quickly... or not so quickly...or not at all. But, then, that's business.

Create A New Product Or Service
To start a successful business you need two things: an idea for a product or service; and financing. In this exercise, you will focus on both. The idea is up to you. Has there ever been a time when you were looking for something or some service and found that it did not exist? Talk to others. Have they had similar experiences? Or maybe, a product or service exists but it is hard to get where you're located. Both of these cases represent business opportunities.
Finance Your Business
Now it's time to finance your business. As history teaches, most businesses are built on other people's money. The great fortunes of the 19th century were built on stock shares sold to the public. You can try the same thing yourself. You can try appealing to others to invest in your idea. In business, this is sometimes called an initial public offering, or IPO. It means dividing up your potential business into shares and then selling them to the public.

Remember, the key word is "sell." That means you have to attract investors. To do this you need to write up an IPO. Start by laying out your idea for a new product or service. Explain why it is needed. Note the possible competition. Lay out your plan for providing the product or service -- what the potential market is -- how you will advertise it. And finally, give your new company a name. Once you have your IPO in hand, discuss it with your friends and classmates. Ask them if they want to buy a share in your new company.