But these judges are not looking to poke holes in the students work, but rather to help shore it up. Of course, it helps that these mentors volunteers from SCORE, a partner of the Small Business Association, will help the students develop and ultimately present their business plan.
“This is part of our outreach,” said Ken Karlson, a SCORE Business Counselor who used to work for Honeywell. “We are all volunteers and we do this outreach into the school to do something fun.”
The business projects this year will be based on developing and launching a new resort. Panel members assembled for the students represented real estate agencies, hotel chains, multimedia companies and more.
The Chapter of SCORE represented serves Northwest New Jersey's Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties and provides ongoing, in-depth, industry-specific business assistance. Counselors help evaluate a business idea or plan, stimulate business growth and ensure long-term profitability.
SCORE's volunteer counselors, both active and retired business men and women, provide clients with free and confidential business counseling. Counseling is conducted face-to-face at a counseling centers in Morristown, Randolph, Florham Park and Newton, or via e-mail.
Students took in presentations from the assembled panel and now will set about to research and develop all aspects of the plan. From site location, building plans/costs, labor issues, spreadsheets for bookkeeping, website creation, Power Point presentations, prospectus, advertising and marketing campaigns.
But before they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, they picked the brains of the business success stories in front of them. When asked about how they chose their field, Patrick Athe, the Director of Human Resources at the Sheraton Parsippany said sometimes it is serendipidous.
“Sometimes you plan things and sometimes life happens and you show up for it,” Athe said. “And then you work hard at it. I got into the hotel industry after graduate school and I fell in love with it and I am here 29 years later.”
Joe Giovannoli, the account manager at Morristown’s Mobile Seed, fielded the question about how to turn a profit, and it was a lesson the students could immediately apply to their projects.
“It's about efficiency,” Giovannoli said. “If you have a set price for your product/service, the quicker and more efficiently you work, the more money you will make in profit."
SCORE counselor Bill Carlucci told students that small businesses may not make a profit the first day, first month or first year.
“You need a plan for how you are going to eat that first year,” Carlucci said. “You might not want to quit your day job.”
Patch will be following this story as the project continues. What sort of resorts would you like to see the students design? Share your thoughts in our comments.