An Advisor's Perspective: The Benefits of Operating an SBE

Oct 1, 2022

Operating a School-based Enterprise (SBE) can be an enormously rewarding experience. It offers an excellent opportunity for DECA members to learn practical business skills and prepare for college and careers. Advisors can help students utilize classroom concepts in a real-world setting and raise money for your DECA chapter and school by operating an SBE.

1. Fundraise

Whether the store is in your classroom, a supply closet, a mobile kiosk, online, or you have a large space allocated, it can be an additional source of income for your DECA chapter.

"The profits from our business provide business scholarships to graduating seniors, community donations, school donations, and cover travel costs for students to attend association-level and international conferences. The remaining profits are used for marketing, equipment updates, remodeling, etc."

—Brian McFall | Advisor at Washburn Rural High School, KS.

2. Create a Hands-on Learning Environment

What better way to prepare students for college and careers than to have them operate a school store? SBEs provide realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction and are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate National Curriculum Standards in marketing, finance, hospitality or management.

"At Jenison High School, we have a school store with apparel and snacks (The Cat's Corner) and a fully operational coffee shop (The Green Bean). My students benefit from these SBEs because it allows them to learn skills that correlate directly with jobs they can get now or in the future. I think it also gives them something to look forward to in class because they get to be active, meet new people and do something other than the standard lesson/activities. Personally, I like seeing all different types of students thrive at the SBEs and gain confidence in their abilities."

—Jordan Whittecar | Advisor at Jenison High School, MI

"The biggest thing the students get out of this program is that it has them dig deeper into what we are learning. The reflective piece is the most beneficial and what we want our students to constantly do. It allows us to show off what great things our students are doing!"

—Brian McFall | Advisor at Washburn Rural High School, KS

3. Prepare Emerging Leaders and Entrepreneurs

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. School-based enterprises are learning labs that provide the first work experience and an opportunity to build management, supervision and leadership skills. While some in the education community have only recently discovered the value of school-based enterprises, educators and DECA advisors have used them as a powerful teaching tool for more than four decades to build emerging leaders and entrepreneurs.

"One of the most significant benefits of running an SBE is watching my students grow in their abilities and responsibilities. My current store manager has grown so much in the last four years, and watching her now lead the team as a senior is amazing!"

—Lisa Cline | Advisor at North Forsyth High School, GA.

Are you interested in starting a school-based enterprise at your school? Check out these tips to get started.

1. Learn from Others

When opening an SBE, learn from what others have accomplished. Don’t be afraid to visit other local school stores in person or look online to see what similar schools do. College bookstores and websites are another great way to get ideas and inspiration.

2. Start Small

Don’t attempt to offer a ton of products across different categories when just beginning. Start with a few items and see how they perform. This allows the store to make follow-up decisions accordingly and continue to grow.

"We have had schools from our surrounding community, Kansas and all over the U.S. inquiring about our coffee shop and WRHS Bank, which is flattering, and we love sharing and helping others start up! My best advice is to start small and have students build the program (business) each year."

—Brian McFall | Advisor at Washburn Rural High School, KS.

3. Develop a business plan.

A business plan is crucial. Where are you starting? What are your long-term goals? What products do you want to offer? Having a well-thought-out plan will guide the initial and long-term success of your SBE.

So what are you waiting for? Learn how to start a School-based Enterprise at your school!


Debbie Taylor
Leadership Manager

Debbie Taylor is DECA's leadership manager. In this role, she implements a comprehensive student leadership program for both the high school and college divisions. She is responsible for the Emerging Leader Series, student recognition programs and leads the DECA Inc. executive officer teams and elections.

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