Business owners advise future entrepreneurs

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

The Business Department and club have collaborated once more to bring business professionals and students together.

By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Gabriel Arizon/The Valley Star

Valley College’s Business Administration Department and Business Club held its fourth annual conference recently, giving its over 250 attendees several different sessions in which to learn from business professionals and discover special programs at the school.

Taking place in the Business Journalism Building on Nov. 22, the three-hour long Business Conference started late in the morning. Attendees included not only Valley students and faculty, but students from Birmingham Community Charter High School, Woodbury and Pepperdine universities. For the first hour, guests attended one of five different breakout sessions, which included guidance on  accounting, finance, management, real estate or marketing.

The session on management was presented by Valley Professor Jack Condon and the owners of Priscilla’s Coffee, Mark and Shannon Hartmann, who have operated their coffee shop for over 30 years. They described the many difficulties of running a small business, from competing against a Starbucks nearby to many of their customers — who are writers — leaving during the Writers’ Strike in 2007, nearly closing the shop. Shannon admitted they almost lost their house at one point.

“I think you have to have a little bit of fight in you,” said Shannon. “I think you have to be tenacious [enough] where you don’t give up. Follow your gut, if you think your gut works.”

Despite their challenges, the couple has persevered, making their business successful. The Hartmanns gave advice for attendees to run their own business, such as the importance of having a cash flow and not taking customers for granted.

“Things are going to go wrong,” said Mark. “Don’t let it overwhelm you. Sometimes, you have to be willing to accept things get in your way.”

After an hour break for lunch, three different sessions were offered: Jumpstart your Career in Social Media Marketing, Entrepreneurship Boot Camp and Business Entrepreneurship Retreat. The latter, also hosted by Condon, featured seven Valley students that had participated in the program.

The retreat, which takes place in the Business Journalism building during the spring semester, is a six-week course “about self-discovery.” The upcoming retreat will be the third one, and each has been organized by Condon. During the program, he helps students learn eight mindset lessons, such as taking advantage of opportunities, persistence and community.

“It’s not about starting a business,” said Condon. “It’s really about taking control of your life and doing what makes you happy.”

After attending Valley 10 years ago, Condon said that he still possesses a student mentality, which he brings to his teaching. He uses his experience as a student — like worrying over financial aid or transferring — to connect with others and get them to open up.

“Everything I do, I try to do it based on my experience,” said Condon, “ what I think would be beneficial to students in the end.”

Student speaker Gurpreet Virdi described how she had become depressed after coming back from a trip to India unsure where her future was heading. Virdi attended a previous Business Conference where she learned about the retreat.

“Before, it was hard to take action towards things, such as education,” Virdi said. “Now I’m constantly taking action, constantly looking for opportunities. If I want something, I really have to go for it. It really transforms every single part of your life.”

Another speaker, Matthew Middleton, told his story about how the retreat motivated him to take action. Deciding to go into business consultation, he was told by a teacher he needed a master’s in business administration (MBA). Rather than give up, Middleton pushed forward. He will be pursuing his MBA at Woodbury in spring.

“By the end of the retreat, it felt like a safe place to let my defenses down more and talk more about how I feel a lot of the time,” said Middleton. “It opened up the avenue that, while I feel weak, these people can talk about their problems … and it was this openness that allowed me to come out of my shell.”

To sign up for the retreat, email Condon at Students will receive an email in the spring semester. While there is no deadline, the retreat will only take up to 20 students.

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