Technology has played a major role in education over the past several years. School-aged kids are jumping on computers and tablets to learn about the world around them. Edward Wilkinson recognized this technological influence, so he took the plunge to start his own small business in which he provides a unique tech-based educational platform.
Wilkinson is a 1-800Accountant client and is the proud small business owner of Swing Kids Project, Inc.
Based out of a home office in Chicago, Illinois, the startup company was formally incorporated in July 2013. However, Wilkinson initially started it about a year earlier as a sole proprietorship to see if it was a viable business plan. He now has two business partners who assist him with it.
Swing Kids Project is an online portal targeted toward kids and preteens. It’s a project-based learning resource, which means it encourages users to complete projects to facilitate the learning process rather than having kids simply learn by reading or consuming content.
“This site involves learning itself, learning through physical fitness, and learning through one’s environment,” Wilkinson explains.
Each child is encouraged to take on their own projects with their parents. Kids get their own profile pages upon registration, and they can create their own video projects on them. Then other people can sponsor their videos to help bring them some attention or help them raise money for something.”
Wilkinson says parents can also upload a photo of their kids, and he can turn them into a caricature for their profiles.
The tagline for the small business is Life, there’s an app for that…!
“We are trying to communicate the fact that while technology is convenient, it’s not life itself,” Wilkinson says.
While the startup company is not affiliated with any schools or educational institutions as of now, Wilkinson believes it can serve as a supplement to the traditional assignments that kids get from their teachers. Users also receive monthly newsletters with education-related articles.
Wilkinson is a retired college professor who spent time teaching students in China. He marveled at the idea of self-employment and decided to launch the small business by converting a room in his home into a production studio. This is where his creativity comes to life through music and graphic design that are part of his website.
He believes his concept is different enough to fill a void that hasn’t been tapped into much.
“This goes with the trend of the Internet and education as a whole,” he says. “We are moving from classrooms to online learning. Also, for kids trying to raise money for various causes, this is a non-confrontational way to raise money and can instead reach a larger audience through the video sponsorship projects.”
All small business owners have different things that are particularly satisfying about the work they do each day. In Wilkinson’s case, this enjoyment is multifaceted.
“I enjoy the feedback and response I get through e-mails and face-to-face interactions,” he says. “Knowing that my efforts are doing something in the real world is rewarding. I enjoy music and writing as well. The aggregate of all these things together makes it really enjoyable.”
“I want to be the largest children’s website that nobody has ever heard of,” he says. “I want this to grow via people telling others that they’ve used it. I’m looking for more of a grassroots effort rather than having this spread virally online like other things that come and go.”
Starting a business is a whole new adventure. Wilkinson admits that he’s not a programmer, which is why he hired someone to put up a well-designed website for him. There have also been a number of procedures and steps to take with which he is unfamiliar, even though his wife has an MBA and is also a small business owner.
“I’ve had to do a lot of things by myself that are a little foreign to me. That’s one reason I came to 1-800Accountant for accounting assistance.”
Advice For Aspiring Small Business Owners
Patience is a big part of Wilkinson’s philosophy on the small business startup front.
“Try to model your business before you actually put it into use as a corporation,” he recommends. “During this process, get as much feedback as possible so that you find what works for you without having to risk the money as an official company. Model your website and get people to look at it before actually putting it online. Once you are ready to put this business model to use, then you can incorporate and start moving forward.”
As a self-employed individual, he loves the convenience of being able to walk from his bedroom to his office and studio without having to fight Chicago’s rush-hour traffic. He also likes the flexibility and time management opportunities that go along with it. He does recognize that there are a few burdens, though.
“You’re beholden to the whole responsibility of everything,” he says. “It’s not hierarchical, and you can’t say, ‘Ask Joe in accounting to do that.’ The hardships have to be answered by you.”
As a 1-800Accountant client, Wilkinson says he would gladly recommend the national accounting and business development company to entrepreneurs seeking valuable accounting support at a low rate.
“1-800Accountant certainly fits well into the trend of entrepreneurialism in this country,” he says. “It gives you peace of mind of knowing that you are in good hands with your business accounting. There are a lot of do-it-yourself options out there that may be cheaper, but you have to know what you’re doing and then actually take the time to do it.”
Check out one of the video projects on his website here.
Photo credit: The photograph of Edward Wilkinson was provided by Swing Kids Project, Inc. and is used with permission.