When businesses started closing during the pandemic, the Beacom School of Business founded Coyote Business Consulting. Over the summer, students took on 26 projects across 17 counties to keep businesses in South Dakota open and competitive.
Coyote Business Consulting is the second part in Beacom’s plan to stimulate the economic development of the state. Venky Venkatachalam, Dean of the Beacom School of Business, said the first part was a series of 10 webinars aimed at helping small businesses survive.
These webinars addressed a number of topics including the Payroll Protection Program under the CARES act, stress management and digital marketing, Venkatachalam said.
One it was time to work directly with businesses, Beacom created its 26 teams, each consisting of two students and one faculty advisor. Venkatachalam said the program is unique because it employed students whose internships were initially cancelled and it helped struggling businesses to succeed.
“One one hand I have a thing to address students’ (problems), on the other side I have businesses crying for help, so I said, you know what, we can connect the two and create a win-win situation,” Venkatachalam said.
Kylie Miller, one of the students involved in Coyote Business Consulting, worked with Folklore Foods in Selby, South Dakota. Miller said she worked with the business owner on finding target markets and developing a mission statement.
Miller said she met with the business remotely on a weekly basis and worked with her partner over FaceTime once a week.
“(We applied) our business knowledge with her passion for community and her product,” Miller said. “It was a few hours a week of work and a lot of communication.”
At the end of their eight-week projects, teams and the businesses they served put together financial reports. Venkatachalam said the biggest problem to businesses was keeping their revenue streams going, and the key to doing so is building a sustainable business.
“It’s about keeping a revenue stream sustained so you can take out some expenses, but also, very importantly, keeping your workforce engaged. You want to pay them, they have families, they’ve got expenses,” Venkatachalam said. “Everybody’s concern, whether you’re a small business, a medium business or a large business, it’s always how to keep the business sustained both short term and long term.”
Miller said the project was a great opportunity for students to get consulting experience while at the same time helping local businesses, even if was as simple as providing a mission statement.
Part three of the plan is to host a business conference. Venkatachalam said the conference will highlight the challenges the businesses are facing during the pandemic in various sectors of the economy while also showcasing business opportunities and the talents of the state’s workforce.
“South Dakota has a very equal system of businesses that are willing to pursue the opportunities, take on new innovations, and people. The workforce and talent that lies in the state are amazing,” Venkatachalam said.
The conference will take place on Oct. 14 from 8:30 to 12:30 p.m at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls