With a teacher sponsor and a few pieces of paper, anyone can start a high school club. My school has at least fifty, maybe sixty. But how do you define a good club—a successful club? It’s not by the number of members—honor societies in my school have hundreds of members, but do nothing other than collecting dues and ordering t-shirts.
Starting a club is not too different than starting a company. The goal is to create lasting value. Here are three entrepreneurial principles you can apply to make sure your club is meaningful and successful.
1. Find a problem
An entrepreneur is not someone who gets a spontaneous idea and makes money off of it. Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem. On my first day of classes at LaunchX, I learned that the first step to coming up with product ideas was listing out problems—problems in certain age groups, problems in certain communities—any problems I could think of. Starting a company is about observing a product or service that is missing, and filling in that gap.
Creating a club is no different. A club is a service that you are providing to members—helping them improve their academic, leadership, or other unique skills in some way. If you are starting a club, make sure the club is targeting an activity or skill which students in your school are looking for. Look around your school environment, talk to students, and figure out what’s missing. For example, when I observed that my school was full of STEM honor societies, but that it had no business leadership club, I started a chapter of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America).
Remember that successful innovation of any form, whether a company or a club, must respond to a need.
2. Understand your members
Identifying a problem is followed by the most important step in entrepreneurship: market research. Designing any product or service requires a strong understanding of your customer’s needs. No one can design the solution better than the person who will use the solution. For our company Ordyr, my cofounders and I talked to Boston restaurant owners and customers to confirm their pain points and ask what type of product would help them the most. Patterns in their responses guided us when designing the first version of our app.
The basic principle is simple: let the people who need the solution design the solution. When you’re planning your club, don’t decide on the activities without consulting the students who will be participating in them. Talk to potential members. Ask them what they would find beneficial. Observe from their comments and actions what would help them.
If you do this step properly and thoroughly, your club will be set for success.
3. Take action
After designing the solution, it’s time to launch the first version of your product. One of our LaunchX lecturers told us, “If you think the first version of your product is good, you have waited too long to release it.” This is difficult, but important, to accept. Our first version of the Ordyr app was not even an app—it was just a website simulating the most important app functions. We didn’t get caught up with the smaller functions, design details, and other features that weren’t central to our core solution.
Apply the same mentality to your club. Don’t wait until your club planning is perfect to launch it. Take action. If the main activities that your club provides are valuable solutions to the original problem, issues with smaller details of the club will not matter. You can perfect the club over time.
These are the principles which helped me make my two clubs successful. It all comes down to one fundamental strategy: treat your club like you would treat your start-up. If you embrace this strategy, maybe you’re ready for a bigger step: starting your own company.
Want to start an entrepreneurship club in your high school? Sign up for LaunchX's club program next year—we'll guide you through the step-by-step process of starting your own company.