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. 

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. 

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

*We have reached capacity for the Fall 2020 semester. Client applications will now be considered for the Spring 2021 semester.*

Areas of Focus

  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Strategy
  • Business development
  • Long-range planning
  • Cash management

Fees and Support

Given the limited resources of many of the clients, our Small Business Consulting programs have 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)
  • Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
  • 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

Student teams will meet with their clients to discuss the client’s goals, review their financial statements and determine the scope of work.One year after the conclusion of the consultative period, each business is asked to complete a survey to document the impact of the consulting services. 

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 two 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 Stone is another client who 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 recent 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. 

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 nine years, the students have participated in the Small Business Institute’s international national small business consulting competition, placing among the top three teams each year and in six of those nine years, they have taken the top prize. This year’s competition was held in February in New Orleans and the Nazarian College student team won first place for the Consulting Project of the Year.

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.