Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
In Phase 0 we looked at all the inquiry projects and narrowed it down to one which for me was Case Study: Local Business and Industries. Then we brainstormed essential questions to answer when doing our inquiry project. We also looked at advice from the Alumni, so we are equipped with knowledge when we get to Xizhou.
It is essential to activate prior knowledge, and this what I know already know. I do not know a lot about Small Business, but I would love to know more through this project. I understand that the business will pay taxes and has to comply with the governments' rules. The business will have expenses that they would have to pay, for example getting the products, paying employees, and repairing or renovations. I also know the businesses will have to make the product price so that there are enough supply and demand, this will ensure that there is enough profit without driving anybody away with the price.
I have learned all this form many ways. I have learned this from conversations with my parents, and a unit we did in 7th grade. I took many trips around old towns in eastern Europe, many small businesses were around, and this incited questions that my parents would have the duty to answer. In 7th grade, we learned about work conditions for the workers in factories and the point of view of the factory owners. We learned about factory workers in many books and the hard conditions they had to go through, but we also learned about the jobs of factory owners through documentaries.
There are many things I would love to learn from my inquiry project. I would love to know the hardships of the business and how they deal with them, perhaps even some customers issues. I would also like to know what an average day of the business. Are there at times, or is there always something to be down and what is it. I think how the business handles money and the tactics to draw people in would be very interesting. With my inquiry project, I would like to focus on the people aspect of the business, like the interaction between the owners and the customers, or how the business deals with unhappy customers. I can not wait to learn about my inquiry project.
I have created a list of questions that might guide my research in Xixhou. Here they are:
Some Big Questions
1. How much has this business grown and what are your hopes for it in the future?
Possible Answer: My dad owned this vegetable stand, and he gave it to me after he was too old to work. When I took over it, I made some changes that helped bring more people in and by the food. In the future, I wish to get more connection and more frequent customers, and maybe even a more beautiful stand.
2. What are some problems does the business encounter the most and how do you solve them?
Possible Answer: The most recent problem is that the ceiling is always leaking and it drives customers away. I tried to put a bucket under it for a while but a broken down shop does not seem appealing to customers. I finally solved it after I got some tools out and patched up the roof.
3. What are some competitors and how do they affect the business?
Possible Answer: The restaurant across the way steals a lot of potential customers, but we still manage to do good business. If anything it as kept me on my toes, making new advertisements and being extra helpful to the customers.
4. What level of education do you have? Do you think a higher level of education would help you in this industries?
Possible Answer: I only have a high school diploma because I did not have enough money to go to college, but I hope that I can save up enough and get a degree so that I can develop my business even further. I think that once I get a degree, I can do a lot better work.
Possible Answer: I try to help customers with as much fairness as possible. There is a very delicate balance between letting people walk over you and being fair to all customers. I feel this is the best way to approach customers.
6. How do you get your customers "through the door"? How do you catch the eye of a potential customer?
Possible Answer: I have colorful lights outside my doors so that when people are walking by, they might want to come in. I also have a display of majestic and colorful fish in the hope of bringing in customers. I find that this helps a lot as before I did not get many customers but now I do.
7. Are they regular customers? If there are who are they and why do they keep coming back?
Possible Answer: Mrs.WO comes by here every morning and gets a piece of bread. I think the thing that brings her back is that we have an exciting relationship. I do not think of her as a consumer but more as a friend.
8. Do you like this lifestyle? Does this lifestyle take a toll on you?
Possible Answer: I think this lifestyle is a lot higher stress than most in the village, but I still like this life, and it brings me closer with my community that I would otherwise not get.
9. Do you want your kids to take over the business?
Possible Answer: I hope that my kids have a bright future and they can get a good education. I hope that at least one of my children stays in the village, and someday I am happy to give them the business.
10. Do you have future advice for up and coming business owners?
Possible Answer: Plan for everything and be friendly to your customers.
Before I get to Xizhou, I would like to know the type of business I will be inspecting. I would also like to know other business in Xizhou so that I can get a feel for the town.