Friday, September 09, 2011
New minor offers students tools to realize entrepreneurial dreams
Since childhood Brian Fairbrother has dreamed of creating his own business.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur,” says Fairbrother, a production operations/management major from Shelby Township. “When I was 12, I used to go around to the construction workers in my neighborhood selling pop.”
Fairbrother took a significant step toward realizing his entrepreneurial goals earlier this year when he decided to capitalize on one of the SBA’s newest opportunities, its new entrepreneurship minor.
The interdisciplinary program got under way this fall and – unlike the SBA’s previous entrepreneurship minor – is open to both business and non-business majors.
“I see it as a way to learn the ropes,” says Fairbrother, who is taking the ENT 301 course, Developing New Venture Ideas. There, he and his classmates have opportunities to research, test and fine-tune their business concepts.
Other program courses cover the nuts and bolts of transforming a good idea into a viable business. Those who have developed outstanding business plans also may have the chance to launch their venture under instructor supervision through the Entrepreneurship Project Practicum. Plus, students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship minor have a direct line into OU's new Ideas to Business (I2B) Lab. Also new this fall, the I2B offers critical support to start-up ventures by OU and Cooley Law School students, and faculty and staff members. (See related story.)
The SBA has taken pains to avoid a cookie-cutter approach to preparing students for entrepreneurship, says Associate Professor of Marketing Mark Simon, who developed the minor in partnership with Professor of Marketing Ravi Parameswaran, chair, Department of Management and Marketing.
“We’re trying to look at the whole person,” Simon explains. “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.”
Program participant Eric Franchy, a senior marketing major from Roseville, says he thinks of entrepreneurship as playing “real-life Monopoly.”
“The main appeal to me of being an entrepreneur is the ability to determine my own day; both in scheduling and in task determinations,” Franchy says. “Leading others can also have its rewards.
“I am excited for the revamped entrepreneurship minor and especially the possibility of receiving funding through OU for a plan created at the end of the program.”
For more information about the entrepreneurship program, visit www.oakland.edu/currentstudents/minors/entrepreneurshipminor.
By Flori Meeks CAS '88