As is the case with many College of Business seniors, I currently have the privilege of being enrolled in BUS 4788, more commonly known as Business Planning Research. Now, you may be wondering why business students would be taking a research course. Simply put, this is because it is one of the university’s goals that every student conducts some form of research while at Florida Tech.
Seniors in other, more technical disciplines complete what’s called a Senior Design Project in which they work together as a group, for sometimes a year or more, with a faculty advisor on research to be displayed at the annual Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase. This event attracts many national employers and is quite the event every year.
Unfortunately, no such event currently exists for non-engineering majors. Instead, our senior research is more of an individual endeavor. Business Planning Research guides business students through the process of developing a business plan that can be feasibly executed upon completion. In the past, many students have gone on to bring their knowledge gained in this course to start actual companies. Some students may lack the entrepreneurial spirit, but the class is still a valuable capstone: “Regardless of whether you plan to start a business or become a manager in a multi-national corporation, the skills you will develop in this class will help you see the interconnectivity of the entire process of creating competitive advantages for your firms,” (BUS 4788 syllabus).
My instructor for the course, Scott Benjamin, Ph.D., is a very lively individual that has quite the list of credentials. My peers and I are fortunate enough that he has a plethora of experience in both management and entrepreneurial enterprises. Having helped start many companies himself, his insight is invaluable when it comes to developing our own ideas. Normally an individual would have to pay an expert such as Benjamin quite a sum of money for help developing their business plan. We’re getting that as an added bonus to the education gained through the course.
When looking for ideas, Benjamin suggested that we keep a running list of problems or annoyances we encounter in our lives and then later revisit that list and try to come up with solutions for them. Some of the ideas in class range from developing an app, to streamlining campus transportation so that people know where the trollies are in real time, to inventing new bowling equipment. One of the mainstays of the course is knowing that if you think your initial plan is perfect and will make you a millionaire overnight, you’re wrong. Your initial business plan never makes it past the first time you do a test with customers.
What allows this class to be referenced as a research class is all of the market research you have to conduct with potential customers before you even get a shred of what the final product will look like. You’re constantly pivoting your idea based off of customer feedback and suggestions. That being said, though this course is a daunting amount of work, it’s really a labor of love. You’re developing a business in an area you’re passionate about and that’s enough to make the long hours ever more bearable.