COLUMBIA – The South Carolina Small Business Development Centers and professor Frank Rydzewski of the Darla Moore School of Business recently joined efforts to bring real-world experience in export planning to students.
Student teams from Global Competitiveness, a class examining growth opportunities in both domestic and international markets, were matched with S.C. SBDC clients in a consulting capacity.
Teams of business majors worked for six weeks to develop export plans for a variety of products and services. Working alongside S.C. SBDC business consultants, students learned the challenges and rewards of negotiating the international business environment. Formal presentations to clients, which highlighted key factors from the well-considered, lengthy proposals, were at the Moore School.
“This semester many students wanted to enroll because they had heard about the consulting portion of the class,” Rydzewski said. “This reflects the benefits of the course and provides the opportunity for University of South Carolina students to help small businesses grow their base business and consider exporting in the future.”
Student teams researched both expansion in domestic markets, as well as viable international markets. Client products came from retail, disaster preparedness, medical and construction industries. Students considered licenses, intellectual property issues, financing, shipping costs, insurance, competition, roadblocks, taxes, government contracting opportunities, political climate, partnerships, customs and the business friendliness of more than a dozen countries. The use of social media was examined, as well as blogs, magazines and special events for marketing purposes.
Charleston area SBDC client Grace L. Schmidt, president of BoatLIFE, was impressed by her student team.
Schmidt said, “As I read the proposal I had to keep reminding myself that this was done by students. I have seen many reports and proposals during my 44 years with BoatLIFE; this was one of the most practical and professional ones I have come across. It was comprehensive, well laid out, easy to follow and it presented a clear path.”
Reflecting on the project, international business and finance senior Christopher Barrazotto said of his work with the BoatLIFE team, “My favorite part was designing a real export plan for a real U.S. company. In other business courses, we dealt with hypothetical situations, but for this project, our client can actually implement our recommendations and have results in a matter of months. I’m excited to see how much our hard work pays off.”
Billy Binder, an international business and global supply chain and operations management major, was also on the BoatLIFE team. Binder said of the experience, “I had used LIFE Industries products before this project, so I had a connection with the brand. To know that our work will help them continue to thrive in the competitive marine products industry is rewarding. I will definitely draw from this experience in the future.”
At the end of the presentations, each client was presented with a faux invoice for services underscoring the value of an export plan. The average value is in the range of $30,000. Any small business that would like to be considered for this program can contact S.C. SBDC marketing manager Janna McMahan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 803-777-0440.