UC’s Center for Entrepreneurship tailors big solutions for small businesses

Driving entrepreneurship excellence to the next level

The Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Cincinnati is committed to supporting small businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area.

At the epicenter of the UC Entrepreneurial Ecosystem hub is the Small Business Institute (SBI) program, nestled within UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business. As a founding member of the SBI and the Small Business Institute Directors’ Association, UC helps bridge the gap between aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses eager to boost their success.

Charles H. Matthews, founder of the UC Center for Entrepreneurship and SBI director, noted, “UC has been a leader on the forefront of preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs since 1972. The Small Business Institute program is a great example of bringing students and startups together for a triple win: Creative solutions to real problems for small businesses, augmenting student learning and elevating the business community.”

Guided by the expertise of Kate Harmon, the assistant vice president and executive director in the 1819 Innovation Hub and the El and Elaine Bourgraf director of entrepreneurial practice for the Center for Entrepreneurship, this dynamic academic hub provides personalized consulting that propels entrepreneurs, managers and businesses to new heights.

A poster, ball cap and beard oil products arranged on a table for promotion.

The savvy graphic design techniques and marketing strategies learned through UC's SBI helped Paul Keith promote and manage his beard care product lines more effectively. Photo/Charles Matthews

In the realm of success stories, Paul Keith is the visionary force behind PK Beard Essentials. Last spring, he successfully transformed his line of beard cleansing, moisturizing and oil products into a thriving online sales enterprise after leveraging the valuable resources provided by SBI.

“The brilliant contribution of the academic and student SBI team significantly helped give my business a noteworthy edge over my competitors,” Keith remarked about his journey. “Through their expert guidance, I optimized my online sales operations and productivity refined social media marketing strategies, enhanced brand visibility, targeted the optimal age demographic and greatly improved my customer relationships.”

Program offerings

The dual-pronged, cost-effective consulting mission emphasizes two key pillars:

  • Customized consulting: Offering personalized management consulting to local businesses and nonprofit organizations with a mission to deliver tailored solutions. Students collaborate closely alongside business owners and managers, actively engaging to help create winning formulas to address real-time challenges.
  • Learning extravaganza: For UC students with a passion for entrepreneurship and small business, the SBI program provides an impressive, hands-on learning experience with tangible, measurable outcomes.

Inside the process

Under the guidance of seasoned faculty, undergraduate and graduate-level students from Lindner engage on immersive field cases with business owners and managers spanning an entire semester.

Throughout the experiential journey, these student consultants delve deep into the business’s history and objectives, creating comprehensive and innovative business plans. Their work encompasses various elements, including competitive analysis, strategic growth, startup business plans, market research, marketing strategies, operational improvements, feasibility studies and cost-benefit analyses.

Taste of success

The consulting program’s stellar track record features:

  • Exceptional client satisfaction with A+ ratings
  • Recognition through awards in local, regional and national competitions
  • An impressive annual volume of 20-30 consulting projects for regional businesses, profoundly impacting over 1,000 businesses and organizations and benefiting over 3,000 students during its 50-year history.

According to Harmon, business participants actively engage with students to create a recipe for success. Rather than serving in intern or co-op roles, the students operate as advisers and consultants. Harmon emphasizes the importance of client confidentiality in this collaborative synergy.

Timing and application

  • Fall semester: late August to early December
  • Spring semester: early January to late April
  • Applications are welcome year-round, with thorough reviews conducted in July/August for fall semester enrollment and in November/December for the spring semester.

Join UC’s SBI consulting program and take your business to the next level!

Featured image at top: New entrepreneurs discuss small business options. Photo/Mapbox courtesy of Unsplash

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