FAU Students Brainstorming Ideas For Entrepreneurs Hurt by Pandemic

By paul owers | 9/9/2020

Companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic will get a boost this fall from students in Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business.

Teams of students in two classes, Global Business Strategy and Cases in Financial Management, will take part in a semester-long project to help entrepreneurs in Palm Beach and Broward counties sustain and grow their businesses.  

The Florida SBDC at FAU, part of a national network that provides specialized consulting services to small businesses, created 20 case studies that reflect common problems firms are facing in the era of COVID-19, such as reduced customer bases, financial losses and the lack of available investment capital. The students will strategize and prepare reports that aim to offer solutions that business consultants will share with small business owners in the region.

“Our businesses need help learning how to recover and pivoting to take advantage of the new normal,” said Sandra Marin, regional director of the Florida SBDC at FAU. It will share the results with leaders in the other eight SBDC regions of Florida the organization serves so businesses in those areas can benefit as well.  

The pandemic forced nonessential businesses nationwide to close starting in March. Although many owners and merchants have since reopened their doors, foot traffic remains a fraction of what it was as nervous consumers prefer to stay close to home. Lower sales have led to massive layoffs and business closures.

Four SBDC executive consultants will provide feedback to the FAU students and work closely with class instructors Siri Terjesen, Ph.D., a professor of management programs, and Sofia Johan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of finance.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic creates great challenges for all of us in managing our personal and professional lives, there also are great opportunities to improve our community,” Terjesen said.

The assignment allows the students to develop real-world problem-solving skills, while affected companies can benefit from fresh ideas that could lead to new business models, Johan noted.

“We need students to have a competitive advantage as they join the extremely challenging job market,” she said. “This access to the SBDC to apply what they have learned at FAU to help our resource-challenged community is a win-win.”