Student Group Earns Top Three in National SBI Project of the Year
- Author: Thursday, December 1st, 2016
A student group in Dr. Whitney Peake’s Spring 2016 Small Business Analysis and Strategy course recently learned their consulting project has been named one of the top three projects in the country by the Small Business Institute Undergraduate Project of the Year contest. The group has been invited to the SBI Annual Conference to be held in February in San Diego to discover the final results of the competition.
The student group – Brad Chambers, Tyler Morris, Kimberly Jane Spears, and Austin Stauffer -- consulted with Mary Jane’s Chocolates, a business located in Bowling Green and owned by Gary and Mary Jane Meszaros, providing more than 200 consulting hours and making a variety of recommendations to improve their business.
Recommendations to the Meszaros’ included utilize social media more effectively to create engagement in the Bowling Green community and purchasing a new point of sale system that would help them determine if they have the proper inventory in the store based on sales. The student group also discussed a new pricing strategy for some of their chocolate treats and suggested they specialize in specific treats to maximize their profits.
“The student group was very professional in their approach and how they conducted themselves overall,” said Gary Meszaros, owner of Mary Jane’s Chocolate. “They delivered what they promised and did the research necessary to provide us with valuable information that we have been able to use to improve our store. I’ve done similar type projects with student groups over the years and this group by far was the best one to work with and provided the most usable information to me. It was a pleasure to work with them.”
The Small Business Institute is the premier professional association of small business/entrepreneurship educators and researchers involved in student analysis projects. Its mission is to strengthen the small business/entrepreneurship sector of the free enterprise system. The Project of the Year competition allows students to consult with small business owners, giving them opportunities to make lasting improvements in those businesses. Consulting projects result in a final written case report and a presentation that is delivered to the client. Dr. Peake’s Spring 2016 class involved six student groups who spent more than 1,300 hours consulting with their clients.
“The small business consulting course is really about throwing students in the pool to teach them how to swim,” said Dr. Peake. “They have this great pool of knowledge from their courses in the Gordon Ford College of Business and it’s my job to coach and mentor them through the process of integrating that knowledge with real business situations to solve real problems. Students tend to really invest themselves in these projects, because actual people are depending on their input.”
Students say they enjoy the consulting experience.
“In my four years at Western, I had never taken such a hands-on course where the students were responsible for consulting an actual business,” said Austin Stauffer. “It was quite the experience to be a possible impact on the success or failure of someone’s small business. By no means was it easy, but I know I’m a better businessman because of it. I’m thankful for Dr. Peake and her effort to make this course so rewarding for her students and the businesses involved.”