Category Archives: CSUF Consulting

6 Things Our Business School Teaches Students About Entrepreneurship

CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals Vanessa Ganaden and Rachel Herzog

Two CSUF Entrepreneurship students, Vanessa Ganaden (left) and Rachel Herzog (right), pitching their concept at the recent CSUF Startup Competition Semifinals. They are advancing to the Finals of the competition where they stand to win part of the more than $10,000 in scholarships and in-kind services!

We were recently sent an article titled 6 Things Business School Won’t Teach You About Entrepreneurship by Corey Ferreira that we largely agree with and completely disagree with at the same time. Mr. Ferreira’s contention is that business schools do not teach entrepreneurship in a way that is actionable for most people. He goes on to list six areas where business schools are deficient. We largely agree with his view of entrepreneurship and how for most of us entrepreneurship is about hustling and getting things done with limited resources.

But we have to disagree with his contention that business schools, especially the business school at Cal State Fullerton, do not prepare students well enough for this reality. At Cal State Fullerton we teach students many of the lessons Mr. Ferreira outlines in his article and we build on that through the CSUF Startup Incubator, entrepreneurial student clubs, and competitions like the upcoming CSUF Startup Competition. Below are my responses to the six areas Mr. Ferreira identified in his article.

A business can be scrappy

Our curriculum and our students embody scrappiness. We teach our students what it means to bootstrap a business and bolster those teachings with many guest speakers who have been there, done that. Mr. Ferreira rightly notes that many startups have to embrace a scrappy ethic in order to launch their business and we inculcate our students with hard won lessons on how to do that.

For example, central to much of our teaching is the need to create a minimum viable product (MVP) because that way you can test your hypothesis about what your customers want without having to create a finished product out of the gate. Buttressing the MVP is market research that involves actually getting out of the building and talking with potential customers. This process gives entrepreneurs with limited resources the best opportunity for success because they will inevitably find out so much valuable information from interviewing customers, launching an MVP, and iterating off of their results.

In a bygone era the formula was to come up with an idea, raise money, and launch at scale. Those days aren’t completely gone but for the vast majority of businesses those days aren’t around anymore. So, we agree on the necessity of launching with a lean business model but I cannot agree with his contention that business schools, at least ours, don’t teach realistic business practices.

Plans aren’t the most important thing

In the CSUF entrepreneurship program, we agree that plans aren’t the most important thing. They’re important as far as they go; they help to crystallize the entrepreneur’s vision and helps him think through the process of launching a business but, as we teach all of our students, plans should be written in pencil. Changes will inevitability happen when faced with results that do not meet the entrepreneur’s hypothesis about any facet of his business.

In the classroom, we give supremacy to the creation of a lean business model canvas, which is a one page document that succinctly lays out the nine most important factors that determine a business’ success. That’s right, a one page document. Yes, we do have the students go through the process of filling out those key hypotheses found in the lean model in a full business plan but we stress the necessity of creating a plan that must be updated frequently and having an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces nimbleness and the ability to change. As Mr. Ferreira notes, these are called pivots and this is a concept that is very familiar to all of our students.

How to set goals

Mr. Ferreira states that: “So many entrepreneurs know what they want to do, but they don’t really  know how to do it. Setting goals makes it easier to determine the path  since you can reverse-engineer from where you want to be.”

We can quibble on this. In the CSUF Entrepreneurship program we favor the ground up approach to planning and then setting goals that are hard to achieve but not impossible. Goal setting done right is a skill that must be learned by doing and we have a program that stresses doing. Every one of our entrepreneurship students works on a startup with the goal being to go from concept to launch. These businesses are incubated in the classroom over the course of two semesters with the guidance of faculty and mentors (our mentor pool of over 600 people includes professionals from all disciplines and many entrepreneurs).

Goal setting is also baked into our curriculum through the processes already discussed in this post as part of the process of iterating from MVP to a final product. We believe and teach our students that what isn’t measured doesn’t improve and it is goals that are measured.

Marketing in the 21st century

Mr. Ferreira accurately describes the ephemeral nature of marketing today. Social media, by design, is geared towards the creation of content that has a very short lifespan. Glance at a Tweet, move on. Read a Facebook post, move on. Watch a video on YouTube, move on. The staccato nature of today’s media is ever changing and keeping up with everything is impossible.

And yet, we do teach how to thrive in this atmosphere by drawing on many of the same lessons that are applicable in other parts of our entrepreneurial curriculum. By discovering and knowing who your customers are and experimenting on how to effectively communicate with them you can set yourself up for success. All of our professors draw on their academic research or professional experiences to teach modern marketing techniques to our students.

How to be creative

The ineffable qualities of creativity are hard to teach, says Mr. Ferreira, and he’s pretty much right about that. But there are ways to teach students so that they can maximize the creative gifts that they already posses. At CSUF Entrepreneurship we view creativity as if it were a muscle, the more you work at it the stronger your creative muscle becomes.

While there isn’t a formula for creativity we have developed our curriculum so that our students have many opportunities to work out their creative muscles. All students majoring in entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton get the opportunity to do consulting working for actual businesses. Our CSUF Consulting program enables students to put into practice the lessons that they have learned in the classroom and that is an extremely creative process. Figuring out ways to create winning strategies for clients in a wide range of areas (including: marketing, operations, leadership, and finance) is a fantastic way to develop a student’s creativity.

Risk-taking

The CSUF Entrepreneurship program has a somewhat more nuanced view of risk taking than Mr. Ferreira has. The way we see it, all risks are not equal. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build an app that you think the market wants is certainly a risk but it is not a good risk.

We teach our students to take small, containable risks that can be used as stepping stones towards creating products and services that the market actually wants. At its core, entrepreneurship is about trailblazing but it’s not about the kind of Leroy Jenkins-style trailblazing that almost always ends in doom and despair.

In the classroom, we do teach our students that failure is a fundamentally healthy part of entrepreneurship. This can be seen in everything that we teach: every decision is not carved in stone but, rather, an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Our whole lean startup approach is predicated on this belief.

If Mr. Ferreira is game, we would happily extend him the offer to sit in on some of our classes because we’re confident that he will see that the CSUF Entrepreneurship program is not like the business schools he describes in his article.


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CSUF Consulting Team Covered in OC Register

CSUF Consulting Team with their client Open Castings

CSUF Consulting Team with their client Open Castings

Earlier this week, our CSUF Consulting team that took third place in the national SBI competition was covered in the OC Register. Here’s a taste:

A CSUF Consulting team placed third in a major national competition, the Small Business Institute Project of the Year, competing against about 100 other universities.

Chad Armstrong ’17, Mary Cho ’17, Jonny May ’17 and Rachel Herzog ’18, backed by mentor Bob Godlasky and professor John Bradley Jackson, developed a comprehensive marketing plan for client Open Castings.

Open Castings is an online platform that allows actors to audition for roles and casting directors to find the best candidate. Involved with the client are alums Will and Bill Taormina, who are donors to the Center for Entrepreneurship, and alum Trevor Heath.

We previously covered this story in late February. Both articles are great but the students are really the ones who have shined in this!

We are currently in the process of recruiting growth-minded clients for the summer and fall sessions. If you or a business you know of could benefit from having a CSUF Consulting team like the nationally acclaimed one in this article then please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu. Charlesetta will help walk you through the CSUF Consulting process and determine how one of our teams can help your business grow.


#CSUF

Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurInsider

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/csufentrepreneurship

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
bit.ly/csufincubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
bit.ly/csufconsulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/CSUFknowledge

CSUF Consulting Team Places Third in National Competition!

CSUF Consulting Team with their client Open Castings

CSUF Consulting Team with their client Open Castings (we do not currently have names for the two people on the left of this picture but going from third from left we have Bob Godlasky (mentor), Jonny May ’17, Chad Armstrong ’17, Will Taormina, Bill Taormina, Mary Cho ’17, Trevor Heath, and Rachel Herzog ’18)

Late last week we found out that one of our CSUF Consulting teams placed third in a major national competition!

The team was awarded this prestigious award for their diligent work developing a comprehensive marketing plan for their client, Open Castings (which has on its team alumni and donors to the Center for Entrepreneurship Will and Bill Taormina as well as Trevor Heath). On the CSUF Consulting team were Chad Armstrong ’17, Mary Cho ’17, Jonny May ’17, and Rachel Herzog ’18. Their mentor was Bob Godlasky and their professor was John Bradley Jackson.

The client was Open Castings, an online platform that makes it easy for actors to audition for roles and casting directors to find the best candidate. Its unique value proposition was to allow actors to use a smartphone to submit an audition tailored to a specific role. This gives actors and directors the freedom to submit and screen auditions at times most convenient for them, saving time and money,” explains Rachel Herzog. She continued, The purpose of the consulting project was to help Open Castings better understand their customer and build a go-to-market strategy. The scope of work included customer interviews and surveys, a feasibility study, business model development, a competitive analysis, and a customer acquisition growth strategy.”

Throughout the semester the team worked in close concert with their client, which as Chad Armstrong notes, is a tremendous benefit for the overall quality of the project:

Our client was ideal. Will Taormina was attentive, motivating, and a great communicator. We had a terrific give and take with him. He listened to our ideas and/or questions, absorbed them, and often took action on the spot, making phone calls, finding information, scheduling meetings, or doing whatever it took to give us the best chance for success. Will was gracious with his time and resources. He attended class regularly and often brought surprises like a basket of cookies or progress updates based on the action he and his team took from our input. Little things like that may not seem like a lot but they gave us energy and motivated us to do even more than we thought we could.

The team’s mentor, Bob Godlasky, concurred with Chad’s assessment but he also highlighted the superlative nature of the team commenting, “Over my 44 year business leadership career I measured my men and women on a bell curve trying to assess their; intelligence, motivation, and interpersonal skills. I would rate Rachel, Mary, Chad and  Jonny in the top decile of all management people I’ve known in my lifetime.”

The CSUF Consulting program works with more than 100 clients every year to develop comprehensive strategic plans in a number of different areas including marketing, operations, and finance. Clients come from all kinds of industries and in all sizes but they all come with a common goal in mind: growth.

We are currently in the process of recruiting growth-minded clients for the summer and fall sessions. If you or a business you know of could benefit from having a CSUF Consulting team like the nationally acclaimed one in this article then please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu. Charlesetta will help walk you through the CSUF Consulting process and determine how one of our teams can help your business grow.


#CSUF

Keep in touch with the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurInsider

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/csufentrepreneurship

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
bit.ly/csufincubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
bit.ly/csufconsulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship:
bit.ly/CSUFknowledge

Grow Your Business With CSUF Consulting

CSUF Consulting

Another CSUF Consulting team wins a national award for the work that they did for their client

What can you do, right now, to improve your business? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have many ideas but not enough bandwidth to pursue any of them fully. That’s where a CSUF Consulting team can help. For a relatively minuscule fee, you can have a team of four to six Cal State Fullerton students work on creating solutions for some of your most trying problems or developing strategies that you can implement to take advantage of your biggest opportunities. Act now, the window to accept client for the spring semester is quickly closing. Get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu for more information.

In the CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider below is a variation on the same pitch as above (seriously, though, a CSUF Consulting project is a heck of a deal for any entrepreneur, the ideas that our students come up with are often amazing and just what our clients are looking for) along with a list of all of our scheduled upcoming events and office hours, all free by the way.

Today starts the second week of the spring semester and I already feel like we’ve hit our stride. It’s clear to me that the students in my class are eager to grow as entrepreneurs and they are ready to take on all challenges this semester.

I know that there are many entrepreneurs out there, just like my students, that are eager to find new and creative ways to grow. Maybe, like our previous client Barbara Nolasco, you want to find creative ways to connect with millenials. Or maybe you want to develop a process for determining the internal rate of return on capital expenditures.

Whatever the case may be, our students are ready to work with entrepreneurs to help them find the most effective and actionable solutions available. Our CSUF Consulting program almost has its full allotment of clients for the spring semester so if you have a business or know of a business that could benefit from the insights and legwork that our students can do for you please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu for more information.

Sincerely,
John Bradley Jackson
Director and Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting,
& CSUF Startup Incubator

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New Beginnings for CSUF Entrepreneurship – CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider

Two of the CSUF Consulting teams in Dr. Atul Teckchandani’s class were recently featured in the Orange County Register! And that’s Atul in the picture.

The CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider is our way of communicating with the whole of the CSUF Entrepreneurship community en masse, every week. Normally, these communiques come out every Monday but that’s obviously not always the case.

Anyways, this Insider focuses on making new beginning for the new year. Since it’s 2018 (It’s already 2018?!), now is the time to make a new beginning for your business. And that’s where a CSUF Consulting team… well, you can read more about that in the weekly CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider below.

This week is the start of the spring semester at Cal State Fullerton and while there’s a lot that’s the same I feel that with each semester comes many new beginnings.
For us, one of our new beginnings will be the opening of our second CSUF Startup Incubator office with this one being on the Cal State Fullerton Irvine campus. There are still a couple of hurdles that we will have to overcome before we can officially use that space but soon, I hope really soon!, we will have a permanent office out of which to work with creative entrepreneurs and enthusiastic students.
I’m sure that the new year has brought many new beginnings to members of our community as well and if you are an entrepreneur with an existing business and one of your resolutions for the year is to improve your business then I think that we can absolutely help you achieve that goal!
As the Orange County Register recently found out, our CSUF Consulting teams can produce a great deal of value for our clients in a number of ways.
I hope you can read the whole article but one of the more important points that the article made was that our students are at their best when they are looking for the root causes of the problems that our clients are facing.
An example of this from the article was our client who was having difficulties maintaining millenial employees. Our client knew that this was a problem and wanted to find a solution for it but she did not know where to start. The team did a combination of in-person interviews and extensive secondary research to help them pinpoint the root causes of this problem, which they used to craft a custom and actionable strategic plan for the client. Needless to say, she was very happy with the result and is in the process of enacting the plan and giving her business a new beginning for 2018.
Would you like one of our student teams to find a solution for your most pressing issues? We are looking for a few more clients for the spring semester. We will be closing our recruitment window very soon – probably by the end of next week at the latest – and if you or a business that you know of could benefit from the insights and legwork that our students can do for you please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu for more information.
Sincerely,
John Bradley Jackson
Director and Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting,
& CSUF Startup Incubator
 

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What can a CSUF Consulting Team do for your Business? The OC Register gets the Details

What can a CSUF Consulting team do for your business? Quite a lot!

Running a business is hard work and it’s all the more difficult when you are running a small business and all of the big decisions rest on your shoulders. Every day there are big decisions that need to be made and, even when things are running “smoothly”, all of those little things quickly add up and you have no time to take on the bigger opportunities that you have. Maintaining what you have quickly becomes the norm and going after bigger goals is something that has to be put off for another day.

That is the reality that most small and medium-sized business leaders face and the crux of this problem isn’t a lack of resources. Processes can be changed and resources can be reallocated if there is a compelling strategic vision in place that will lead to bigger and better things for their business. And that is where a CSUF Consulting team can make a big difference.

As Wendy Fawthrop, a reporter for the Orange County Register, found out after being embedded in Dr. Atul Teckchandani’s Management 464 Entrepreneurial Leadership course last semester. The article gives a detailed rundown on how two student teams developed a strategic vision for their clients that can be used to leverage the resources that their clients currently have to take advantage of key opportunities that the clients did not know how to tackle.

In the article, Wendy meticulously details how over the course of the last semester these teams worked in conjunction with their clients, in-class business mentors, and Dr. Teckchandani to thoroughly research and develop actionable plans on strategic initiatives for their clients. Each team followed a tried-and-true three step process of:

  1. Identifying the key problems that their clients are facing
  2. Conduct primary and secondary research to elucidate the issues and identify best practices
  3. Develop a comprehensive strategic plan that the client can immediately act upon to change those problems into opportunities for growth

Entrepreneurs usually have a decent idea about what kinds of problems or opportunities they are currently facing. For the teams featured in the article the problems their clients were facing were virtually identical: How to get millenials more interested in working in the clients’ businesses.

There are thousands of articles that generically identify this as an issue but where almost all of these articles fail is in proscribing solutions in part because these articles are mostly generic. To really understand the issue, the CSUF Consulting teams got to work by engaging with millenials to find out why they were not currently interested in working for the clients.

This kind of research is intensive and it requires training and guidance that most entrepreneurs don’t have, not to mention the amount of time that has to be devoted to this kind of research, time that most entrepreneurs do not have.

Over the course of the research stage of their projects, the CSUF Consulting teams also researched existing resources on these problems with an eye towards developing solutions for their clients. These resources include everything from case studies detailing how other companies tackled similar problems to articles on best practices for their client’s industry.

During this process the teams will unearth what the true causes of the problems are that their clients are facing. Like a person who has an insanely large water bill the crux of the problem is usually obvious, there’s a leak somewhere, but hidden. CSUF Consulting teams do an excellent job of ferreting out those metaphorical leaks in their clients’ businesses.

And, as was the case with one of the clients featured in the article, they will unearth solutions to ancillary problems that their client didn’t know she had, which was paying too much for outdated salon management software when a better and cheaper solution is available on the market.

Once all of this tedious and technical work has been done, the teams work with their mentors and clients to develop strategic initiatives that utilize the clients’ current array of resources to make consequential gains in the way the clients’ businesses are run. These strategies are step-by-step plans detailing how clients should reallocate their resources and change their processes to convert their problems into opportunities.

Wendy’s OC Register article does an amazing job in bringing life to this process and she captured the ebullient response of Barbara Nolasco, the entrepreneur who owns Artistic Hair and was one of the clients featured in the article, after receiving the final report from her CSUF Consulting team.

“I was so pleased with the suggestions they came up with, and I plan on implementing them in the timeline they suggested,” Nolasco said. “The most important thing I came away with is that my training program must reflect the importance of giving a millennial stylist more hands-on training.” Also, a thorough training in giving a great consultation will help with retaining clients, she said.

After the team’s presentation, Nolasco contacted [salon management software company] Vagaro, which will save the salon more than $70 per month, according to [CSUF Consulting team member Amanda] Martinez.

“I am so grateful to have been chosen for this project, and I would highly recommend it to any business,” Nolasco said. “Having the team help me to look at the areas that needed improvement will put my salon ahead of the game.”

A CSUF Consulting project is a great way to leverage the creativity and passion of the next generation of business leaders to find actionable solutions for your business. Each project unearths findings that are both unexpected and valuable to entrepreneurs, findings that would probably lay dormant for much longer if not for the work of these enterprising Cal State Fullerton Entrepreneurship students.

Do you think your business or a business that you know of can benefit from the opportunities that a CSUF Consulting team can unearth? If so, please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina by giving her a call at 657-278-8243 or by emailing her at cymedina@fullerton.edu for more information.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Grow Your Business In 2018 With CSUF Entrepreneurship

The CSUF Entrepreneurship Insider has been on a little bit of a hiatus the last couple of weeks but we are now back!

CSUF Entrepreneurship has a lot of cool projects and events planned for 2018 and I will be sharing those with you as we get closer to them but, right now, I would like to know what you have planned for the new year.
One of the most common resolutions I’ve heard from entrepreneurs is that they want to improve their business in some way. Boosting sales, launching a social media strategy, figuring out how to effectively present to investors, and getting a better grip on their financial controls are just a few of the ways entrepreneurs want to improve in 2018. How about you?

As has been proven out by our thousands of client engagements, any business can benefit from an engagement with a CSUF Consulting team. Our consulting teams consist of a group of students, their professor, and, for projects completed by our undergraduates, a mentor with an excellent professional background, work with their clients over the course of a semester with one goal in mind: Develop a comprehensive strategy for clients to take advantage of the opportunities that they have.

And if you have an idea for a new business the CSUF Startup Incubator is here to help take you from concept to launch. In addition to working with Incubator staff and a startup coach, each entrepreneur also receives insights from one of our CSUF Consulting teams at no extra cost. It’s a great mix of services that can help entrepreneurs at any stage.
We have a couple of spots still open for the spring semester for businesses that want to benefit from the insights and creativity that CSUF Consulting teams bring to every project they work on. If you are interested in becoming a client or know of a company that would be a good fit for the CSUF Consulting program please get in touch with Client Project Specialist Charlesetta Medina right away via email at cymedina@fullerton.edu or give her a call at (657) 278-8243.
Sincerely,
John Bradley Jackson
Director and Professor
CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship, CSUF Consulting,
& CSUF Startup Incubator
 

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