David Nazarian College of Business and Economics

  • MBA students working together

Small Business Consulting Services

The David Nazarian College of Business and Economics has been providing small business consulting for over 40 years with a terrific track record. We have served more than 300 small businesses and provided consulting that many have used with great success, often resulting in significant revenue and job growth for the region.

Each semester, top undergraduate and graduate students at the Nazarian College form teams comprised of three to five students to serve businesses looking to address specific challenges or impediments to their success. Our students typically take on businesses that bring in an annual revenue of at least $100k, although students and faculty reserve the right to take on clients who have a lower revenue threshold if they believe the students and the small businesses can benefit from the partnership. For more information on specific selection criteria, please see below. 

COVID-19 Response

In light of the decimation of small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nazarian College is rapidly expanding its small business consulting services by increasing the number of faculty and students involved in this valuable program. By doing so, we anticipate supporting 30 small business clients in the 2020-2021 academic year and increasing again the number of small business clients in 2021-22. Additionally, there are a number of businesses that have suffered significant revenue loss and have fallen below the $100,00 threshold required for participation in the program. Faculty recognize that the Nazarian College Small Business Consulting Program poses an opportunity to assist businesses in restoring their pre-pandemic revenues, educating students in methods to address these challenges and providing businesses with the tools for future growth and resilience.  Therefore, in 2021-22, the program will also support some microbusinesses to assist in returning their annual revenue to pre-pandemic levels of $100,000 or more. 

Furthermore, we are working with current clients virtually and will continue to do so as long as necessary. Although face-to-face meetings are preferable, both clients and consultants have quickly adapted to virtual meetings and neither feels this has been an impediment to service quality and progress. Clients will receive their culminating presentations via video-conferencing and printed reports.  

If you'd like to participate in one of our small business consulting programs, please complete the application linked below. 

Apply Here

*Now accepting applications for the Spring 2022 semester.*

Areas of Focus

  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Strategy
  • Business development
  • Long-range planning
  • Cash management
  • Need for increased capital

Fees and Support

Given the limited resources of many of the clients, our Small Business Consulting Program has operated on a voluntary fee schedule. Private support enables the program to better support the students, the client experience and the quality of the final product.

Partnerships

The Nazarian College works with a range of diverse partners to identify and refer potential clients for the program. The partners include:

  • Valley Economic Alliance
  • Small Business Development Centers
  • National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
  • Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA)
  • Elected officials
  • Chambers of Commerce in the San Fernando Valley
  • Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
  • Opportunity Fund
  • Lenders
  • Professional advisors (accountants, business managers, etc.). 

More than 50% of the businesses served in 2019-2020 are woman-, minority-, immigrant-, and LGBTQ-owned business.  

Post-Consultative Support and Follow-up

At the program’s conclusion and at one year following the consultative period, each business is asked to complete a survey to document the impact of the consulting services. Questions explore the program’s impact on revenue, job growth and financial health. 

Each business is invited to attend a reception to share the impact of the consultative services on their businesses including the implementation of any recommendations, the impact of those recommendations on revenue and their business goals. 

This annual reception will provide an opportunity to secure detailed feedback from the businesses supported, develop marketing to recruit new clients and develop a supportive networking community of entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

Process & Expectation

Following the initial intake interview, students will delve into the challenges identified by the business owner and work to find solutions. Student teams will meet with their clients to discuss the client’s goals, review their financial statements and determine the scope of work.

Many of the student consultants have first-hand experience in the challenges small business owners face. This has never been more true than during the COVID-19 crises as students are working side by side with their employers and families to save their livelihood.  

Nazarian College students also bring a breadth and depth of cultural diversity that can often serve as a point of connection with their clients and provide a deep understanding of the some of the unspoken challenges faced by some of the small business owners.

By the end of the semester, the consulting teams will have dedicated approximately 150 to 200 hours on each project, resulting in a comprehensive report detailing their findings and recommendations. The clients may use the analysis and recommendations as a roadmap for risk mitigation, growth and future success.  In addition to receiving the written report, clients will receive a presentation detailing the team’s analysis with an opportunity to discuss in detail.

Selection Criteria

Small business clients must provide:

  • At least two years of financial statements
  • An annual revenue of at least $100,000
    • The students and faculty reserve the right to take on clients who have a lower revenue threshold if they believe the students and the small businesses can benefit from the partnership.

Success Stories

Below are four companies that have participated in the Nazarian College Small Business Consulting programs, one being a current client that is being guided through the COVID-19 crisis. Each has reaped significant benefits.

  • Pacific Shores Stones sought services through the program in 2011.  On the verge of bankruptcy following the 2008 Recession, the business owner embraced the students’ suggestion to make a significant change in their business model. By moving from wholesale to consumer sales, the company has seen explosive growth.  Growing from a single location in the San Fernando Valley, Pacific Shores Stone now has 19 locations nationwide, double digit annual revenue increases, and now employs more than 1000 employees. Grateful for the company’s successful turnaround, they have recently made a scholarship gift to support students in the Nazarian College small business consulting program.

Recent Client and COVID-19 Response Experience

  • KidsDream is a Spring 2020 client of the small business consulting program. KidsDream designs and manufactures dressy children’s clothing in their own manufacturing facility in Downtown Los Angeles. In response to the COVID-19 crisis  student consultants suggested that KidsDream quickly pivot to making masks and PPEs for the healthcare industry. Not only were they able to maintain their previous revenue stream, but KidsDream has retained all of their pre-COVID-19 employees.  If they could maintain manufacturing at full capacity, they were projecting an increase in their pre-COVID-19 annual revenue by more than 50%.  KidsDream also saw a significant uptick in their online traffic, so our students provided a data analysis and drafted a plan to capitalize on the opportunity, as well as use the information to expand in the future. 
  • In the Spring 2019 semester, a Latina-owned small business specializing in food for Latino grocery stores and markets was referred to us by the Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC) for participation in the program. The client wanted to purchase her own manufacturing and packaging facility but was unable to identify a way to secure the needed capital and revenue for the purchase. To reach this goal, she needed a plan to accelerate revenue growth, reduce expenses and improve operations to support expanding her business. The students analyzed the business’ cash-flow, revenue and expenses and determined the company was spending a significant amount of revenue on leasing and re-leasing delivery trucks. The students recommended purchasing the trucks as the leases expired rather than re-leasing.  The client began implementing the recommendation even before their participation in the program was complete. The client immediately increased their monthly revenue while reducing their expenses which quickly compensated for the capital used to purchase the trucks.  With the recommendations presented by the students, the client had accumulated the capital needed for the down payment and qualified for a loan since their expenses had declined and their revenue had increased.  In July 2020, 14 months following their participation in the program, the client purchased their own manufacturing and packaging facility as well as hired additional staff to support their expansion. 
  • Wanderlust Creamery joined the Fall 2020 Small Business Consulting Cohort for assistance in COVID recovery, resilience and expansion.  Specializing in gourmet ice cream with cutting-edge cultural and travel-inspired flavor combinations, Wanderlust Creamery is a small chain that wanted to increase revenue and product offerings.  Additionally, COVID had shuttered their stores so they needed an immediate way to survive the pandemic. The students evaluated Wanderlust’s production capabilities and determined that their operations had the ability to increase production to support their future expansion. Based on Wanderlust’s ability to increase production, the students suggested they join Goldbelly, a curated online marketplace for regional and artisanal foods crafted by local food purveyors throughout the United States.  This would enable Wanderlust to develop a new source of revenue and client base while their stores were closed and give them an opportunity to scale up their operations in the future.  Wanderlust Creamery acted on the students’ suggestion immediately and quickly saw a significant increase in their revenue and geographic reach.  As a result, Wanderlust has increased production and staffing to meet the online demand. The students also provided digital marketing solutions that would increase brand awareness and drive local and geographically remote customers to online purchasing.  Wanderlust is now shipping to locations throughout the western United States, demand for their unique ice cream flavors continues to increase and they have established an online presence that has provided a path for expansion and increasing revenue.  

By embracing the recommendations provided by the Nazarian College Small Business Consulting Program, these clients have created more than 1000 jobs and generated millions of dollars through increased revenue.  

Workforce Development

Our Small Business Consulting programs provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for the students thereby increasing their marketability and earning power upon graduation.  

For the past 10 years, the students have participated in the Small Business Institute’s (SBI) international national small business consulting competition, placing among the top three teams each year and in seven of those 10 years, they have taken the top prize.

The Small Business Institute is the premier national organization for those engaged in student-led small business consulting. SBI is the link between business, education and community.