As I have noted, the textbook (in fact, all of the business and management textbooks) used for this course is geared towards medium to very large for-profit businesses. Their size provides them certain advantages (so-called economies of scale) in terms of access to capital, limited liability, more abundant resources, a larger and more abundant labor pool, lower costs of doing business, etc. However, very small business (i.e. those who employ nineteen or fewer employees) employee 34% of the workforce in Massachusetts, represent 97% of Massachusetts businesses and generate $4.2B in revenue (in 2006)! More importantly, one out of three of you will either own or be employed by a very small business. So, their role in our society is very important and deserving of due consideration.
Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to increase your exposure to, understanding of, and appreciation for the role of small business and the entrepreneurs who start and lead them. Of course, all businesses were initially started by entrepreneurs. However, many of them have grown to significant size today. But, they all have the same humble beginnings.
You are being asked to identify and interview an entrepreneur to learn what they went through starting their business, where they are today, and what wisdom they can share with you about their journey.
Where do you find an entrepreneur? They are all around you! The simplest way is to go to the center of your town or city and consider all of the merchants with whom you do business such as your hairdresser, barber, nail salon, pizza place, deli, sub shop, hardware store, restaurant, gas/service station, cleaners, etc. Preferably, you should choose one that you frequent as you know and have a relationship with them. However, whether you know them or not, you will find that people love to talk about themselves! Once they realize that you wish to highlight them in your paper, they will be flattered and will find a time to meet with you!
What do you ask of them? All of the topics that you would want to know if you were really ready to start your own business. For example, why did they pick the type of business they are doing? Why did they locate where they are? How did they get money to start their business? Did they do a business plan and if so did it help? Did they do a marketing plan and if so, did it help? What strategies have they taken to reach and retain customers? Have they had challenges attracting, retaining, and motivating employees? What challenges have they had, if any, regarding keeping records? Have they sought help or assistance from other external sources and if so who? You may wish to refer to pp. 166-168 in your textbook for additional insight.
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