In the Weekend Executive MBA program, concentrations are optional. Two classes for the concentration are taken during the final, required term (Term 6), and then the remaining requirement of a final project is completed during an additional Term 7.
I think that it’s called a concentration for two reasons—the first is obvious—it involves a lot of concentration on a particular topic. The second reason is less explicit. You see, by the final required Term 6, we were ready to be done with the program. In fact, most of my cohort was done at the end of that term. But a few of us decided to continue onward. We watched as everyone else finished, and celebrated being done, while we soldiered on with what was to be an incredibly rewarding part of the MBA process. It took a lot of concentration to stay motivated and focused on the end goal—thus, the second meaning of the word “concentration.”
I chose a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. So, during Term 6 (the electives term), two of my four electives were classes related to the concentration. In addition, during Term 7, I completed a detailed project related to my concentration. The project was essentially putting together a business plan for a new business. This involved forming a team who would see the project through the planning stages and startup. I initially put together a team of colleagues from work, because I decided to tackle an opportunity with my employer. After several months, I decided to change focus to an idea that had been fermenting in the back of my head for quite some time. With that small seed, I started focusing on creating a home health agency that does things better than the current standards, and I recruited a couple of classmates to help me. I also recruited some other friends, one of my Girl Scout Co-Leaders, and one of my colleagues at work. Like any other project, we experienced churn on the team, and a lot of questions. There was some question about the vision, what we were doing, and why we were doing it. After all, why change the business model when it works so well for so many other companies? One of the most important questions was this: Is the idea viable?
For this project, we analyzed the exact costs for everything—labor, insurance, office space, licensing, and more. We had to figure out how many caregivers would be needed for every client, what the wage structure would look like, and what possible working hours might be—without any actual clients! Then we figured out how many clients it would take to begin to break even for the business. Through it all, we worked through the details. We called around, and located office space, priced out office equipment, and interviewed caregivers who currently work in the field. We talked to people in the industry and to payroll specialists. It turned out that some of the tools we were looking at developing already exist in the marketplace, for a reasonable cost, thus reducing the amount of development necessary to achieve the same result.
By the time I finished the requirements for my MBA concentration, my team realized that we had a great beginning. We had a list of items that still needed to be done before the business could be started. We have been following through with those items, and have been working on starting the business. Currently, we are a team of 5 people. We are recruiting caregivers who are passionate about their work, and we are working on bringing the business to life. We look forward to seeing where all this “concentration” takes us!