SBDC Expands Types of Student Projects

By Ken Klotz, Director,
Turner Center Programs

Interested in in-depth market research on customer needs or client satisfaction? Need a custom designed database? Considering whether to launch a new product or service? Want to create a growth strategy for your business? Do you wish you knew exactly what your employees think of the company? If so, the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University has the solution. For more than 25 years, the SBDC has provided senior business majors with an opportunity to apply their accumulated business knowledge to a “real world” business situation at no cost to the participating business. For the Fall 2014 semester, the types of projects accepted will significantly expand. 

The SBDC can now provide student teams to custom design and implement online databases to manage customer, prospect, and transaction information. A larger array of human resources related projects will be accepted, including creating and performing employee satisfaction surveys, company culture assessments, and designing organizational change management systems. You and your student team can design a social media strategy that can be implemented immediately. Finally, in-depth research can be performed to define the best target markets, gather pricing information, and determine customer satisfaction levels.

In addition to the new varieties of projects described above, the SBDC will continue to offer the traditional senior capstone business projects, in which business majors work on a specific problem for a local business. Each consulting team typically spends hundreds of hours on their project. The project includes a complete industry analysis, a survey of customers or market areas, and specific recommendations that address the company’s concerns. The only time commitment for the business is approximately 1-2 hours each week to meet with team members. Each project culminates in a detailed report and oral presentation to the client. 

Examples of past projects include: 1) customer satisfaction/needs survey, which have proven useful in determining product/service offerings, pricing, etc; 2) feasibility studies to determine whether to expand into new locations or new product/service lines; 3) analyzing current marketing efforts and providing suggestions to get better results for the promotion dollar; 4) designing a marketing strategy; and 5) strategic planning. Other suggestions are welcome.

Every project is supervised by a business professor. The students will begin in early September and conclude the project in December. Companies of any size, from any industry, can participate. To access the application form, go to: www.bradley.edu/turnercenter/scp. The application deadline is August 15, 2014. For further information, please call the SBDC at (309) 677-2992.