Have you ever wished for a team of fresh bright young educated minds that can tackle some of your greatest entrepreneurial challenges? Select Hoosier Heartland ISBDC clients get this opportunity twice each year when spring and fall semester classes form up at IU Kokomo. That’s when I send a list of qualified established businesses to IU Kokomo Professor Yusuf Ahmed’s Administration of Business Organizations class. Typically for most IU school of business students, this class is a capstone course consisting of “canned” case studies based on significant historical and current events. But at IU Kokomo, the course is centered upon established regional businesses and the challenges they face.
Teams composed of 3-6 business major senior undergraduates are assigned an ISBDC business client that becomes their “live” case study for the semester. The students interview their business owners, discover their needs, and then go about planning out a written antidote to their challenges. In return for their participation, the business clients obtain fresh insight from an independent team of new experts. In essence, both sides get a rich interactive experience. The entrepreneurs are only a phone call away from their student practitioners. The students get to practice their skill set on real businesses and view the impact of their recommendations first hand. The entrepreneurs become more connected with the local collegiate campus and gain new insight.
Traditionally, business owners are seldom blessed with an abundance of time. When a team of students can tackle some of their challenges in a professional way without a fee, they gain valuable energy and knowledge that’s been placed into their business. This is energy that is actually recycled into the community because otherwise the students would be simply working on case studies where their effort would hit a dead-end at the completion of the semester. Instead, the entrepreneurs get to receive the recommendations and exercise as little or as much as they want. Their investment is meeting and communicating with the students in return for multiple hours of effort committed specifically to their business.
Throughout the semester, the students stay in touch with the ISBDC business advisor to access his insight and the high quality tools provided to ISBDC through the state of Indiana. These valuable tools can then be used to enhance the strategies recommended by the students to the businesses.
All types of established ISBDC clients have engaged with IUK students in the Collegiate Management program. Restaurants, retailers, wholesalers, service businesses, professional offices, non-profits, manufacturers, and online businesses have all participated. For example a professional practice utilized the Collegiate Management program to analyze an opportunity to expand to another community. The business owner identified the general area and the team proposed the site location based on the demography targeted by the owners. The result was a fully detailed cash flow outlining the costs of the new operations and the projected sales in the new community. Another participant was looking to expand internationally. The student team engaged the ISBDC’s international trade expert and developed a prioritized listing of each country that was prime for export of the product.
Other teams have prepared business plans for growth and expansion. They have developed marketing strategies. They have analyzed social media and recommended web marketing practices. Every business is a bit unique and thus students can become more engaged in the real business world they are about to enter. While there are always commonalities in business they will never face an exact replica case to study. Many students have indicated that this class has been amongst their favorites at IU Kokomo. ISBDC clients have utilized many of the strategies provided and several have fully executed entire plans developed by the students. There is a common theme of excitement about having these collegians “working on” their businesses.
If you have an established business that would like to participate in this Collegiate Management course, based out of the IU Kokomo campus and the HHISBDC Kokomo office, contact Monty Henderson via e-mail at email@example.com.