The Small Business Institute®
The Small Business Institute® was created by a collaborative group of universities and was initially funded by the Small Business Administration. The Walch Center for Business Development currently sponsors the SBI program. This program serves as a mechanism for business and e-commerce students to gain practical experience in working with a small business or non-profit organization as student consultants. The program also assists small business owners and entrepreneurs through input from the students and final report presented to the SBI client..
Students enroll in the program as a college credit course and work in teams of 2 to 5 people to evaluate, research and/or analyze an entity, whether for-profit or non-profit. During the semester, student consultants work closely with the entity on mutually agreed upon objectives. The SBI team then prepares a final report and makes recommendations to the SBI client. The SBI program operates under the guidance of the SBI director.
Consulting assignments often include a top-down and/or bottom-up review of the small business/organization and the industry in which it operates. Depending on client need, students may perform an evaluation of the business strategy as well as its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They may evaluate marketing strategies and create a marketing plan for the business. Accounting and human resources are other areas student may pursue with the client. Thus, SBI consulting assignments vary according to the need of the client and the size of the team.
For additional information about the SBI program, please visit the following web site: http://www.smallbusinessinstitute.biz
For a successful project, the following requirements are recommended for participation:
- The project assignment is approved by the SBI director as appropriate and can reasonably be completed in the allotted project time.
- The client must meet with students at least six times to discuss the project in a free and open manner.
- Financial statements and other information must be provided as requested by the students in order for them to provide a complete evaluation. All information is kept confidential.
- The client provides feedback to the students after the completion of the project, presentation and final report.
- Client referrals may come from various local sources.
- Client referral may come from the Small Business Development Center.
- Project assignment is approved by the SBI director as appropriate and can reasonably be completed in allotted time.
- Must meet with students at least six times to discuss a free open manner.
- Provides feedback after completion of project, presentation final report.
The SBI program is offered as a 3-hour class for both undergraduate and graduate business students. The course syllabus provides additional details.
For students enrolled in the SBI program, they are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and maintain confidentiality at all times. Each student who participates in the program must sign confidentiality statements. Breaking confidence can lead to dismissal from the program and course.
During the course, SBI students learn to think objectively about a particular operation, whether for-profit or non-profit. They also learn the power of objective business judgment and how to assess business risk and opportunities. Strategic and tactical planning is often part of the process for the client and SBI team. Creating a results-oriented plan appropriate to the client provides a win/win situation for those involved with the SBI program. Under the guidance of the SBI director, this hands-on experience is invaluable to the student’s overall educational program.
A rewarding experience awaits the students and the clients through the Small Business Institute Program.
The SBI program is sponsored by the Walch Center for Business Development where the director also serves as the director of the SBI program.
For further information, please contact:
Patti L. Wilber, Ph.D., CSBC
Professor of Business
Walch Center for Business Development Director
Shockley Hall 120
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
709 Oklahoma Blvd.
Alva, Ok 73717