One of the major things that drew me to Samford was the Brock School of Business. A unique element of the school is a class for first year students called "World of Business." For business majors, this is most likely the largest class you will ever take at Samford. You are split up into groups of 5 students, and each group comes up with an idea for starting a company. Throughout the semester, the main assignment for the class is writing a business plan for the company your group wants to start. Ideas for companies range from workout facilities to movie rental kiosks business to pager systems for restaurants. There are really no limitations regarding the business your group can start. Some businesses are based in Birmingham, while others are based around the country or even around the world. The final business plans are submitted to the Regions New Venture Challenge where the top three groups win cash prizes!
Working in a group for this project is a great learning experience. You quickly learn to divide and conquer different parts of the business plan as they are assigned. One thing that Professor Cartledge and Professor Lohrke emphasize is the fact that this project mimics business in the real world. When working after college, there will be many times when you are assigned to a group and must work together in order to accomplish a common goal or task. This project teaches you to be productive and efficient in a group environment while creating the business plan. There will be many times when debates and then compromises will need to occur in order to decide on important elements of the business plan. This class not only helps you learn about general business, but also helps you learn about how business is conducted in the real world.
While the business plan is being completed out of class, very successful businessmen and businesswomen come in and talk to the class about their area of expertise. So far this semester, speakers such as Harry B. Brock, Jr. (founder of CompassBank), Betsy McAtee (CEO of Dreamland BBQ), and John Cassimus (founder of Zoës Kitchen) have come to the World of Business class. It is really interesting to hear these speakers discuss their personal story and also their business models for several reasons. For one, you begin to realize that these executives and founders of very successful businesses came from humble roots and worked their way up in the business world through hard work. They were sitting in a college class not too long ago wondering the same things and having the same questions we have about the business world. It is encouraging to know that success is attainable through hard work and perseverance. Furthermore, these speakers talk about many of the same things that you and your group are working on for your business plan. It is neat to see that what we are doing while creating a business plan parallels the things real businesses are doing to succeed. Plus, the speakers tell many stories that are really interesting (and often times comical) about things that happened to them during their career.
This class is very unique to Samford University and the Brock School of Business. In most other colleges, students do not begin taking business classes, much less writing business plans, until their sophomore or sometimes even junior year of school. The chance to take a business class so early in your college career is awesome. Not only do you get to jump into your major earlier than most other college freshmen, but also if you are not completely sure if you really want to major inbusiness, this class provides a perfect opportunity to see if business is the right fit for you.
Overall, I am really happy with my experience in the World of Business. I think that this element of the Brock School of Business just makes it even more appealing to incoming freshmen. I look forward to the upcoming speakers and to completing my group’s business plan during the rest of the semester. Hopefully, I’ll have some money to show for it!