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Starting this fall, college students studying entrepreneurship in business schools across the country will have an opportunity to learn real-world lessons from six successful businesses in New Haven County.
David T. Cadden, a professor of management in the School of Business at Quinnipiac University, and his wife, Sandra L. Lueder, an associate professor emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University, are co-authors of the textbook, ”Small Business Management in the 21st Century.”
“Small business is where the action is,” Cadden said. “It accounts for more than 50 percent of private-sector jobs and is a major driver of innovation, but it’s also the bastard at the family reunion who never gets the recognition it deserves.”
Cadden and Lueder are determined to change that perception.
For their book, the 20-year Cheshire residents spent countless hours researching the topic and interviewing Connecticut business owners, including five in Cheshire, The Notch Store, Cheshire Package Store, Elegant Touch, R.W. Hine and Consolidated Industries. They also included chapters on Simione Consultants of Hamden, SoBe Beverages of Norwalk, Westbrook Lobster of Wallingford, and the New Britain Rock Cats. They wanted to learn how these entrepreneurs built each of these businesses into the successes they are today.
“It was so interesting to speak to each business owner to learn what their experiences were – both good and bad,” Lueder said. “You don’t get those insights when you read traditional textbooks on small business. I call them ‘big business light’ texts.”
Cadden said successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of customer value, cash flow and digital technology and the e-environment.
“The entrepreneurs we interviewed understand that customer value is critical to the survival of their businesses,” Cadden said. “Providing customer value can have a tremendous impact on a firm’s cash flow. You can go bankrupt if you don’t manage your cash well.”
The authors also stressed the importance of customer relationship management (CRM), a service approach that looks to build a long-term and sustainable relationship with customers, in a digital world.
“CRM software was formerly so complex and expensive that it was suitable for large corporations only,” Lueder said. “Now it can be used by the smallest businesses to improve customer value. Focusing on customer value improves customer loyalty, which improves cash flow.”
Cadden said knowing how to make the most of social media is another essential skill a successful entrepreneur must have. “Social media and technology are becoming more and more prevalent in small business,” he said. “Something as simple as a restaurant that offers discounts to customers who text their orders in is a way of building business using technology.”
Lueder also said entrepreneurs must be on a perpetual disaster watch. She pointed to recent construction on Route 70 in Cheshire. “It wasn’t supposed to disrupt the businesses in that area, but it did,” she said. “It was a killer. That’s an unexpected crisis.”
Cadden said, “If you’re aware of a problem, you have a much better chance of dealing with it successfully.”
The text from the book, published by Flat World Knowledge, will be available online for free to the students of professors who use the book in their courses. The online version includes hyperlinks to videos and other media assets the authors used to communicate key concepts. Black and white copies of the book are available for $39.95. Color copies cost $129.95. For more information, contact www.flatworldknowledge.com.