3 - Mentoring & Judging
Question 33: How do you use entrepreneurs and experts in your classes?
We have created a pipeline of non-academics to support our entrepreneurship education efforts. There are four stages along the pipeline:
Speakers: who come in to our classes and share their experiences and expertise occasionally.
Mentors: speakers who have proven they share our developmental orientation and are asked to work with students who could benefit from their expertise and connections.
Judges: Mentors who have proven they can motivate students to deliver their best work help us judge the major projects.
Co-teachers: Occasionally the best judges are asked to become co-teachers in our entrepreneurship classes.
When our recruiting efforts yield a promising candidate, we invite them to the class to present, and they are asked to formally (via email is fine) accept the terms of the "Agreement to Join Our Teaching Team" which covers basic confidentiality and IP protection issues.
When we consider asking a speaker to become a mentor, they always want to know "what's involved" and this document outlines our approach, expectations, and points of support for mentors.
When we ask someone to help judge a business plan, we send them the Agreement to Join Our Teaching Team, and this packet outlining the specifics of the business plan presentation and grading process, along with a rubric which represents the crux of our grading approach.
Question 34: What can you do to help students write their business plans more professionally?
Guidelines for Writing Papers
Prof. Vince Volpe of our Teaching Team maintains a comprehensive guide to help students in all aspects of writing business reports including business plans. He gives this to all entrepreneurship majors early in their second course of our 3-course sequence and it becomes their "bible" for how-to's and answers. SLU also offer a Writing Center where students can walk-in for help. Along with this guide, we have produced a set of templates to help students with their feasibility analyses (Question 24 & 27), business model canvases (Questions 25 & 28) and business plans (Questions 26 & 29). These are available for for-profit and non-profit/social ventures.
Question 35: Are business plans really necessary?
With all the attention business model canvases and pitch decks have inspired, especially around the Silicon Valley, there are a lot of startup pundits who claim "the business plan is dead!" But in reality, for the vast majority of startups (i.e. those not seeking VC funding on the coasts) the business plan is not just alive, but it is required! This article outlines the who's, what's and why's of where and when you need a business plan.