When Judith Tyne's entrepreneurs finish their 10-week business course at Hofstra University, they can compete in a Long Island Shark Tank. Each term, Capital One Bank sponsors the business plan contest for participants in the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, with prizes up to $2,500. Tyne developed the program in 1991 to teach business skills such as competitive analysis, marketing and financing to new and seasoned entrepreneurs. "We teach nuts-and-bolts skills to increase the bottom line," she said.
The program has had 1,200 students, launching 388 businesses and creating 890 jobs, according to Hofstra's website. The next session starts March 17.
What skills do you teach?
Branding and positioning, using social media tools, how to establish a break-even analysis to figure out how many clients you need for the month in order to break even. How to do a competitive analysis with at least three competitors, and establish their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to their business; how to develop budgets. Banking and loans, insurance and risk management, green opportunities, taxes to file on different forms of business ownership. Then we go into record keeping and financial statements.
In the last session we had someone starting an e-commerce business IT program that included online marketing and developing websites. She is now working with another business plan contest winner who was in her group, so it's become a business-to-business. And the other person has a consulting business managing filings for city departments. Another is an attorney who has gone on to win state contracts. A tremendous amount of networking goes on within the program.
How did you choose what to teach?
It was based on the skills you need to write a complete business plan. The two anchors are marketing and finance.
What kind of businesses do most of the participants start?
The majority form some type of service business.
Have you seen a change in your students over the years?
People are now looking for value. If they invest the time and money, they want to know how it's going to help them. When we started the program people took it because it sounded interesting. Now people have less time, less money, and need to make changes quickly. They want a return on investment.
Are people in the program mostly unemployed or laid off?
No, very few are. People laid off today are rarely getting a payout, and it's very difficult for them to start a business, unless they have savings.
Who judges the Shark Tank competition? Are investors listening, like on the TV show?
We use our instructors and Capital One bankers, who act as mentors. We have workshops and provide mentoring during the session.
NAME: Judith Tyne, associate dean and director, Entrepreneurial Assistance Program/Scott Skodnek Business Development Center, Hofstra University in Hempstead.
WHAT IT DOES: Provides business education and opportunities for exploration, revitalization and economic development.
BUDGET: $100,000 to $150,000.