A cohort of new graduate students tried their hand at small business ownership last week during an orientation program for students entering the Master of Science in Business Analysis (M.S.B.A.) program within the Tim and Steph Busch School of Business.
The orientation program, which was organized by M.S.B.A. Program Director Stewart McHie and Associate Program Director Herb Shatzen, included introductory lectures, discussions of “Business Basics”, a specially designed four-part case study, and team-building exercises. On the final day of the program, students were challenged to put their new business skills to the test as they opened and operated six rival lemonade stands in various locations around campus.
As part of the lemonade stand challenge, students were split into teams and given a “loan” of $26 to purchase everything from location permits to tables, ingredients, and supplies. Students were then responsible for making all business decisions in running and promoting their businesses.
At the end of the two-hour operations period, the teams calculated their revenue and expenses, as well as interest on the loan and taxes owed, and presented their results and experiences to the rest of the cohort. All profits earned through the project were donated to Campus Ministry.
“We wanted students to start seeing at a micro level what you have to do to run a successful business,” McHie said. “You have to earn revenue, you have to market yourselves, you have to advertise, you have to produce a quality product, and you have to account for it. The students had to experience all those little nuances to make their businesses successful.”
M.S.B.A. student Jimmy Cassidy said his team chose to position their lemonade stand near the Kane Fitness Center.
“We learned all about how important your geographic location is for your business and your marketing,” he said. “We incorporated a half-court challenge to say if you make [the basket], your lemonade is free, but if not, you can still support us and give to Campus Ministry.”
Now in its ninth year, the M.S.B.A. program is designed to provide non-business majors with the necessary language, skills, tools, and processes to accelerate their careers in business, government, or the non-profit sector. According to Shatzen, the program already has more than 150 alumni. This year’s cohort of 30 students is the program’s largest so far.
McHie said the overall orientation program was a way to welcome new M.S.B.A. students and give them a “strong foundation” in the business terminology and theories they will be learning over the next year. Associate Professor Harvey Seegers developed the 4-part “Business Basics” case study for the orientation. It combines notes on business fundamentals with an engaging case about the fictional Masters Bicycle Shop in Great Falls, VA.
Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to meet many of their professors, including Provost Andrew Abela, who helped found the M.S.B.A. program. As part of his introductory statements, Abela spoke about his course, The Spirit of Enterprise, and the importance of considering morality and virtue in every business decision.
“We want to help students understand how businesses function and how these different aspects of business can work together to serve mankind,” McHie said.
“I think this week has been very valuable in terms of an introduction for us,” said Cassidy. “Mostly this group is nonbusiness students, so they made a great effort to introduce the business terminology that for some can seem very overwhelming and technical. They explained it in a way that is going to make us feel more comfortable on the first day of class.”