Monday, May 16, 2011
New entrepreneurship minor set to begin classes this fallLong before they start drafting a business plan, budding entrepreneurs at Oakland University will be researching, testing and fine-tuning the ideas that one day could result in new businesses.
This systematic approach forms the basis for Oakland’s new entrepreneurship minor, approved this spring and scheduled to launch its first classes this fall.
Oakland’s School of Business Administration is introducing the interdisciplinary program to support new growth and employment opportunities in Michigan. “New ventures can have a radical impact on the economy,” said Mark Simon, associate professor of marketing.
“We plan to really emphasize the development and refinement of ideas through the new courses,” continued Simon, who developed the minor in partnership with Ravi Parameswaran, professor of marketing and chair of the Department of Management and Marketing.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of the Census estimates that small enterprises – businesses with fewer than 500 employees – in Michigan represent 98.3 percent of the state’s employers.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs make a similar impact nationally, said Lorne Greenwood, a representative of SCORE Detroit, a nonprofit organization that provides small business mentoring and training. The organization is currently leading the way in job creation across the U.S.
“Small firms accounted for 65 percent (or 9.8 million) of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009,” said Greenwood, citing the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The SBA has offered an entrepreneurship minor in the past for non-business students. The new minor, however, is an all-new program that moves beyond the traditional curriculum to support the success of entrepreneurs today and tomorrow.
"The traditional process, while important, results in students trying to defend or explain why their current idea will work too early," Simon explained, "The SBA's program strongly encourages students to build business models that match their goals, likes, skills and resources by following a detailed process to, first, find multiple ideas, refine them, and test the assumptions before selecting their final idea.
By offering the minor to business and non-business students, the SBA recognizes the importance and widespread interest of entrepreneurship across disciplines. This cross-disciplinary approach enhances classroom discussions and increases the knowledge base students will gain in the program.
"Research shows that entrepreneurs prosper when they develop ideas in groups. The entrepreneurship minor at the SBA definitely facilitates building teams with complementary skills to engage students and enhance learning," Simon said.
The non-business students must take two additional prep courses in order to join the business students in four entrepreneurship courses. All students in the new program will take courses in developing venture ideas and in entrepreneurial marketing, which will help them prepare a low-cost marketing campaign designed to generate high returns and cash flow.
Select students who have developed outstanding business plans also may have the chance to launch their venture under instructor supervision through the Entrepreneurship Project Practicum, which includes the possibility of obtaining venture funding from the SBA's Ideas 2 Business program.
“We’re trying to look at the whole person. Are you willing to take risks? Do you want more time with your family, or do you plan to spend as much time as it takes to make your business a success? Early on, we will try to tailor the program to the type of entrepreneur the person wants to be,” Simon said.
It's possible the SBA's approach will soon become the dominant way of preparing students for entrepreneurship in the future. Teaching by encouraging students to test their ideas and seek input instead of focusing solely on developing a business plan.
For more information about the SBA, visit the website.