Bailey Brendel ® Staff Writer |
Photo by Muhammad Ibrahim ® Staff Photographer |
Many businesses are struggling to stay alive during the pandemic and must find new ways to remain profitable and make their products marketable to our new society. As this is the first time in many of our lifetimes that we have experienced something like this at this scale, many people do not have the experience or knowledge on how to run a business during these times.
Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Integrated Business Experience — located in the University’s College of Business — integrates four classes in marketing, management, finance and a practicum course all in the same semester.
During the practicum course, students create a business plan, request a bank loan, and run a business with about 20 other students. Profits goes to a charity of their choice.
The program teaches entrepreneurial skills as students work together to create, launch, and run a business on their own. They gain hands-on experience in running a business and leadership skills that will be essential in the workforce.
The program has produced many successful businesses. One that stands out to Kristin Scott, IBE faculty chair, is Snow Problem, a business that sold windshield covers to keep snow and ice off a vehicle’s windshield.
“They were one of our top selling, top profitable companies of all time,” Scott said. “They found a product that people needed, but weren’t excited to buy. Maybe some people didn’t even know that it existed.”
Another business that stood out to Shane Bowyer, assistant professor of management, is a company that manufactured wooden coasters, as the students partnered with the Mankato Maker Space.
“It was the first real company that did manufacturing, and they engraved four different styles, so they sold sets of four wooden coasters and they had four different designs of something from the state of Minnesota,” Bowyer said. “This business learned how to manufacture a quality product and then make a profit off it.”
This year, students also have the difficult task of launching a business during a pandemic. According to Scott, students in previous semesters relied a lot on selling on campus. They would have sessions in the CSU and sell their product face to face with the people coming through.
With COVID-19, many businesses are having to find new ways to market and sell products.
“Things like having a website and digital marketing and using platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a lot more important,” Scott says.
This semester, marketing and social media will be a big topic for these students because they will have to adapt their business strategy to be flexible to the given conditions. The Integrated Business Experience program allows students to think outside the box and provides a hands-on experience.
If you are interested in joining the program, contact Scott at email@example.com.