Campus: San Francisco State University -- December 17, 2003
SF State Students Consult with Bay Area Entrepreneurs
Graduate students in Management 832, Entrepreneurship Resource Acquisition,
received hands-on experience this semester in one of the most essential
-- but difficult to master -- leadership skills: giving constructive
They offered some in their consulting work for two Bay Area-based small
businesses, giving a wide range of recommendations for improvements
"Your company lacks a strategic plan," MBA student Allan Hui
said in a presentation to the owners of Paiz
Public Relations LLC, an agency specializing in the mutual funds
industry. "Your Web site is not very professional; it should be
updated more often."
Lori Shannon, founder and owner of women's athletics store See
Jane Run Sports, received suggestions to delegate more responsibilities
and communicate to managers and other employees more effectively. Student
Devon Fordyce-Wilson said this will lead to better employee satisfaction
and loyalty, resulting in stronger customer service.
"If you get them to be empowered, they'll be loyal and stay longer,"
The students spent eight weeks as consultants for the businesses, doing
"living case studies" under the supervision of Associate Professor
Rich McCline, co-director of the Ohrenschall
Center for Entrepreneurship and a Renaissance
Entrepreneurship Center board member. They conducted intensive research
about the companies and their employees, industries and competitors.
Students worked in groups of four, with two groups for each business.
The students gave their final 30-minute presentations earlier this month
at Renaissance, a nonprofit that provides small business training and
support services to Bay Area entrepreneurs starting or growing business.
Hui and others in his group presented a detailed six-month action plan
to Paiz's owners, Damon Paiz and Jill Bourque, on how to best expand
their business. Recommendations included hiring new employees, creating
a strategic alliance with a similar type of agency on the East Coast,
offering free lectures and seminars to prospective clients, and using
the recent negative publicity surrounding mutual fund scandals as an
opportunity to attract clients and generate press.
"Mutual funds need PR more than ever right now," MBA student
Onur Bozada said.
The other group consulting for Paiz made similar recommendations, focusing
extensively on marketing and branding as well as time management.
"It was so amazing looking at my own company as a spectator,"
Paiz said. "At first I was like, 'Hey what are you saying?' But
I am so glad I went through the whole process."
Most of the students' comments were positive, encouraging Paiz and Bourque
to focus on their strengths in marketing their services.
"If the companies can think of your name versus big (public relations)
agencies, there is a reason," MBA student Monica Hsieh said. "You
do good work, have expertise and they trust you."
Bourque, who is Paiz's sister, added that she plans to implement several
of the recommendations immediately.
Other recommendations for See Jane Run Sports included promoting the
company's mission -- to empower women -- to its employees and hiring
a backroom stocker. The students also offered several options for implementing
a computerized accounting program and analyzed the pros and cons of
opening stores outside of the Bay Area.
"Both groups did a great job and got to the core of the issues,"
Shannon said. "I was really amazed at all the work they did behind
Ligeia Polidora, Director, Public Affairs, 415/338-3053, firstname.lastname@example.org