Big Lessons From Small Businesses

As the creator of two nonprofit organizations, I view entrepreneurship as the driving force behind social change. My passion for entrepreneurship stems from my desire to positively influence society through business innovation. Working as a consultant at the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has provided me with the opportunity to refine my analytical skills and explore my entrepreneurial interests.

As a division of the Snider Research Center of Wharton Entrepreneurship, the Wharton SBDC has helped more than 20,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs in the greater Philadelphia region within the past decade. Through the High Impact Growth Consulting Program, undergraduate and MBA students work with business owners from a variety of industries, including health care, clean tech and financial services.

During my first semester at SBDC, I worked with a startup that is revolutionizing the way people access healthy meals. For the past three months, my partner and I have conducted research to size the market for our client on a national level. In addition, we analyzed consumer behavior and market trends to prioritize our client’s marketing channels.

By working directly with the CEO of the company, I gained insight into what it is like to manage a successful startup. Through weekly client meetings, I learned how to effectively communicate the conclusions of my research and develop innovative solutions to overcome the challenges our client faced.

It was an invaluable experience. I think that the best part of being an undergraduate consultant is being able to apply what you learn in the Wharton curriculum to real-world business situations. I can easily see how the material I learned in my finance and operations and information management (OPIM) classes applies to operating a startup.

Through the Wharton SBDC training program for first-year consultants, I was also able to further develop my critical thinking skills by learning how to strategically conduct operational, financial and market analyses. Working with upperclassmen, MBAs and senior advisors who are successful business leaders has allowed me to learn about the consulting industry from people with different professional backgrounds.

My experience at the Wharton SBDC is overall preparing me for an entrepreneurial career, and I am excited to see where my work as a consultant will take me.

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Wharton Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on Dec. 21, 2012.

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