Neshaminy students gain real-world business experience

Entrepreneurship has traditionally been defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which typically begins as an idea.  A business may be started at any age, but starting a business at a young age teaches responsibility and management skills.  One such entrepreneur is Neshaminy senior Mark Kogan.

Kogan runs a nonprofit bookshop, Clear Bottle Bookshop. All the money received is donated to the Langhorne Open Space organization, which is also nonprofit, dedicated to the preservation of open space in the local area. There are more than 200 families and individuals committed to the safeguarding of open space and historic structures in the face of rapid over development, according to the organization’s website.

Kogan had asked the owners of the bookshop if they needed any help with the establishment and they said yes. Eventually, the bookshop was handed over to Kogan because he was a great worker. He was very optimistic about having his own bookshop to run; it was a new project that needed some hard work and that’s just what he did.

“I had been in the neighborhood that I am in now, Golf Club Drive, my entire life, so I always went to the farm where the bookshop is located, and I guess as I got older I asked them at some point if there was any way I could help and they gave me the bookshop so I sort of just agreed,” Kogan said. “I went from there with it. I started to run it, design it, do everything there is to do to make it function.”

When the bookshop was given to Kogan, it was old and abandoned; it had to be cleaned up, furnished and fixed. Since he was given the shop, he has redesigned it more than four times to appeal to the customer.

“It’s nice to learn [how to manage a business]. Having the business you’re able to see- it really is kind of like a practice [in customer service]. We don’t run like a normal business but we have our big sale days [which are days where the customer gets to decide how much they want to pay for the item]. That kind of shows how it works, but it’s kind of like running a real business because you see how the customers respond, and I always try to help the customers get what they want,” Kogan said.

Kogan’s initial motive was just to help out, but his involvement turned into much more. He runs the business and makes it function. He has to make sure the business is clean and presentable to the customers, and he also makes sure he knows what most of his books are about that he sells to his customers.

Another Neshaminy student who has first-hand business experience is sophomore Zachary Crescenzo, who owns Crescenzo Landscaping.

Crescenzo got involved with landscaping at a young age. “I was tired of asking my parents for money, and I wasn’t old enough to get an actual job yet,” he said. “I was around 12 at the time, so I came up with the idea of starting my own company. Luckily, I already had all the equipment that I needed. There obviously were some things that I needed, but that didn’t cost a lot. The more I worked, the easier it was for me to purchase the equipment.”

Crescenzo puts in a lot of time and dedication to keep his business running smoothly. “I’m glad I started young,” he said. “I still always think twice before making a decision, and I’ve been doing it for four years.”

Starting something as big as a landscaping business at such a young age requires responsibility, respect, persistence and many other traits that Crescenzo has, which led him to a successful business and a good relationship with each of his clients.

“I was young to begin with to start that job, but it was like a trust kind of thing that I had to build with my customers,” Crescenzo said.

Entrepreneurship teacher at Neshaminy High School Janet Dougherty gave her thoughts about becoming an entrepreneur. “You can be an entrepreneur at any age,” Dougherty said.

“Technology has brought about opportunity for new products and services, as well as the capability to conduct business anywhere,” she said. “I think the most important thing is to create something that drives your interests or has tremendous purpose for you personally. This will give you the energy to overcome obstacles. Every entrepreneur I have met has said that word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool.”