MBA students at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are offering consulting help to small businesses in the Triangle area that cannot afford to pay the typical fees of consulting agencies.

First-year and second-year MBA students have the option to take a course for credit to help companies solve business problems through the Fuqua Small Business Consulting Program.

The following are the criteria for businesses interested in participating in the program:

  • Business must have been in operation for at least one year;
  • Location is within a one hour drive of Duke;
  • Revenues exceeding $100,000 for the past business year;
  • Management is willing to provide financial data (one year minimum) and operational data to the student consultants;
  • Management is willing to be available to meet with the student team a minimum of five or six times during the course of the consulting engagement (November 2003 through April 2004);
  • Management is willing to pay $200 administrative fee if accepted into the consulting program.

Fuqua students have assisted the local business community for more than 20 years. Past activities have included: improving accounting systems, analyzing cash flow, diagnosing management problems, inventory control, operations, improving information technology procedures, performing market surveys, developing market strategies, human resource issues and manufacturing.

The types of businesses helped in the past few years include: a bakery; residential building contractors; drug safety management and consulting; toys (wholesaler and retailer), a restaurant; a company that designs, manufactures and sells non-invasive blood pressure monitors; a travel agency; an architectural firm; a private grade school; a women’s clothing store; biotech firms; a genetic engineering firm and a micro-electronic firm.

The students select those clients that best match the experiences, interests and abilities of the consulting teams (four to six students per team). Once selected, business owners meet with the student team to discuss the problems to be addressed.

Students begin the consulting project in November and hold approximately four to six meetings with the client through April. An important part of the success of the program is for the clients to be available for regular discussions with the students and to have a candid exchange of ideas.

The program overview, application and brochure are also available online at: