At the beginning of the semester, Louann Cummings challenged each student in an Accounting Principles II class to become an entrepreneur. With funds from the Dr. Vernon E. Garner Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Cummings gave each student the option of receiving $100. Students who chose to accept the cash signed a contract and agreed to return $100 plus half of the profits to the fund.
Cummings combined her experience in microfinance with her desire to help students understand, enjoy and embrace accounting.
“My hope is that they will learn something and get a feel for how difficult, exhilarating and important accounting and business are in whatever their chosen endeavors may be,” she said. “We realize they may not all have profits, but that’s part of the process.”
Sarah Waibel started a consulting health care business, First Step. Waibel writes workouts and nutrition plans for her customers. She cited her biggest challenges as deciding how much attention and consultation her clients receive for a given price and what her obligations should be.
Steven Stewart started a consulting business for introducing and developing social media marketing for small businesses. “As easy as it may sound just to sit in front of the computer and develop a Facebook or any other social media network, this business is all about figuring out what is going to work for that individual company,” said Stewart.
Though he has experienced challenges in this project, Stewart said, “I think this project is extremely beneficial to the learning process and my personal career. I love business, and I am looking to eventually develop and open my own company someday. This project is laying out exactly what it is going to take to open and run a business and the time and money that goes along with it.”
Stewart completed the semester’s project with a profit of nearly $600.
Sirui Yang and Yanlei Dai teamed up to pool their resources. Yang and Dai made and sold paper roses for Valentine’s Day. “I learned many valuable things … but the most treasured things that I learned from this project is how to promote our products,” said Yang. The pair sold 50 flowers, after doing some research on their target market and settling on a price point.
As part of the project requirements, students were asked to develop a business plan and a three-month master budget and write a final reflection paper, among other tasks that coordinated with topics covered during class.
The Dr. Vernon E. Garner Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurial Excellence was established in 2007 through a gift by one of the area’s most successful entrepreneurs, the late Dr. Vernon E. Garner, founder of the Garner Transportation Group. The fund allows students to compete for loans for start-up companies they create with faculty guidance. The new companies can begin operation while the founders are still students, and the students can take the companies with them when they graduate. Arrangements for repaying the loans are part of the start-up plan. The revolving loan fund was created with a $300,000 gift from Garner.