Brainstorming better business
Students in Quinlan’s Microenterprise Consulting class are getting a reality check.
The class is putting their business skills to the test, working closely with real-life clients who want to develop up a business or nonprofit in an economically disadvantaged area of Chicago.
“Our goal is to help clients who do not have the resources, either monetary or personal, to write a business plan,” says Michael Welch, an instructor of management, who has been teaching the class for six years.
According to plan
Students spend the first few weeks learning how to cultivate a productive consulting relationship with their clients, all of whom have an entrepreneurial dream but are usually business novices. They discuss how to develop a business plan, including an analysis of the competition, the capital required to start the business, and personnel and marketing needs.
The students then launch into the real work: meeting frequently with the clients and as a team to develop a business plan, receiving regular feedback from Welch and their fellow students. At the end of the quarter the students present their business plans to the clients and their families, the sponsors, and the organizations that connect potential clients with the business school.
Knowledge in the service of others
“The students get to work with real clients and see someone go out and be successful at something,” says Welch. It's an enormous amount of work, but when students walk into the businesses and see the results, Welch says, “it’s a pretty incredible feeling.”
To Brad Lorden (JD/MBA '12), who worked on one of the consulting teams, the clients’ appreciativeness is particularly satisfying.
“There are few opportunities to put what you’re learning into something concrete,” he says. “This is the most rewarding experience I’ve had at Loyola.”