“At GGU, we successfully train students in business,” says entrepreneurial expert Robert Shoffner, MBA, “but that doesn’t mean that they will be working at a company at all times.” He notes that trends indicate that 80% of US workers will be “entrepreneurs” at some point in their careers, and will have exhibit creativity, drive, and risk-tolerance to start a business successfully. As the new Director of the 10-week Small Business Program that revs up this April, Shoffner’s goal is to take students from concept to blast-off over the course of 12 months. After classroom work, they will be paired with a mentor to help them move forward.
Like most GGU instructors, Shoffner leverages his real-time professional experience along with his prior teaching experience (over 3 years at GGU). As the current leader of the Small Business Development Center in San Mateo, he oversaw access to capital of $10.5 million in 2017. Shoffner grew into a champion of entrepreneurs when he worked in commercial lending and saw small businesses grow – including a small pizza place that became a San Francisco Bay Area chain. Shoffner notes that government statistics show that small businesses are a powerful engine of job growth — accounting for 50% of private sector jobs. (His banking and finance career eventually led him to the position of West Coast President for Citibank.)
To look at a business and say ‘I created that’ is very satisfying for many people.
About the Workshop
Although tech startups are part of the GGU teaching and learning ecosystem, this entrepreneurial course is geared for any kind of business – from law practices, to marketing consultancies, to restaurants. The breadth of student backgrounds provides a vibrant laboratory for developing business plans. The learning model is built on Shoffner’s multiple years of consulting experience and group process that results in actionable business plans. Successful entrepreneurs from the GGU alumni community will visit classes to discuss how they started their businesses.
What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur
“The entrepreneurial mindset is a desire to take risks, work long hours, and be creative. Creativity can be the trigger for starting a business,” he says. As an example of creativity, he mentions an entrepreneur whose book describes lessons from his Uncle Cleave: a slave that transformed forced-labor ice delivery into his own business. Does Shoffner’s own family legacy – his grandfather filled a seat formerly occupied by Louis Armstrong in King Oliver’s seminal Jazz band – give him an ear for creative endeavors? “To look at a business and say ‘I created that’ is very satisfying for many people.”
More about the Small Business Program…
– Convenient Saturday meetings
– Completion of a business plan
– Pairing with a mentor
– Abundant networking opportunities
– Instruction by faculty / alumni with their own businesses