Reuben and I were lucky enough to meet through the Entrepreneur department. I was looking at both management and marketing as an emphasis for my major when I first heard about the entrepreneur program. I knew that I wanted more hands on training with real world applications since I ran my own part-time web design business. I had always been the sort of person who followed my own path so entrepreneurship seemed like the perfect next step.
The program focuses on teaching you how to plan and launch your own business, first through consulting with actual business owners to gain experience, then by writing a business plan and executing it within the class; all under the guidance of business mentors who volunteer their expertise to the class.
Shortly after joining the Young Entrepreneur Society (the Y.E.S. club) and the entrepreneur program, I met Reuben Fine and we instantly clicked. Reuben had just transferred over from U.S.C. because he was dissatisfied with their business program and heard that C.S.U.F.’s program was pretty good.
We each got a lot of valuable experience consulting different businesses for the entrepreneur classes. One of the most valuable, yet intangible skills that I acquired during the consulting projects was learning how to work in groups. No other business classes even came close to the collaborative group dynamic that we experienced in these classes. Handling a live business with four other classmates, a mentor, the professor, and the business owners themselves, was quite challenging and in each project it was clear who stepped up to the challenge and who didn’t.
I quickly learned that “you get what you put into it”. For me, this translated into becoming motivated to work, not just for a good grade, but because I genuinely wanted to help each company.
During the business plan and launch classes, Reuben and I decided to start an online marketing service for real estate agents as our business. Reuben had been a freelance designer for several real estate agents, helping them with their marketing by creating flyers and postcards for them, while I was a web designer specializing in small business. We put our heads together and figured out that we could create a website that did, automatically, what Reuben did by hand. That is, we wanted our site to create professional flyers that real estate agents could use by themselves with ease.
Utilizing the guidance we received from our professors, mentors, classmates, and Dr. Ames, we created a business plan for our online start-up. We then presented the plan to our family and raised enough money to get started.
Although the web site’s development took longer than we planned, and our revenues didn’t come as easily as we had hoped, we still forged ahead. The real estate industry started to turn south in 2006 and we had to rapidly adapt our strategy.
We ended up redesigning, retesting, and completely restructuring everything about our site, including our business model. Naively, we thought that once we graduated from college, we would know everything we needed to know and could just focus on implementing that knowledge. What we came to discover was that while our education had helped us tremendously, we still needed to continue learning the skills and know-how that were more specific to our industry and business model.
We learned that when things got frustrating and didn’t turn out as we had hoped, it simply meant that there was something new for us to learn. For our business, this meant learning things like copywriting, online marketing, email list building, developing customer relationships, and so on.
Eventually, when our focus changed from “making money” and “being successful” to “providing the best positive service we could to our customers”, this is when our site finally started to grow.
Now our site is steadily growing in sales and customers every day. We are in constant communication with our target audience who continue to give us new ideas for products as well as ways to improve our offerings.
Although we don’t know nearly everything about online marketing and the real estate industry, we continue to educate ourselves and develop our business each day, and it all started from our initial work within the C.S.U.F. entrepreneur program. Reuben and I are very grateful for all the resources, guidance, and experience we received while in the program. So if you are considering Entrepreneurship as a major, we would highly recommend exploring all the program has to offer to see if it’s a good fit for you.
To find out more about our start-up, visit Turnkey Real Estate Flyers, which offers a downloadable P.D.F. template package that real estate agents can use to create professional flyers and brochures in minutes. Each template features easy editing and printing and can be re-used an unlimited number of times.
This post was written by Rey Marques
For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/
For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator
For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting