Murfreesboro native Jordan Daniel learned early in life that he wanted to be his own boss.
The Riverdale High School alumnus is now in his third year at MTSU as an entrepreneurship student learning the ins and outs of owning and marketing his own business.
Daniel hasn’t graduated from the university yet, but he’s already running his own company.
Through an internship with Student Development Company, Daniel is managing his own franchise of Textbook Painting in Murfreesboro.
The organization provided training, marketing tools and taught Daniel how to provide estimates before sending him out on his own.
“It’s a really good opportunity to get the experience to see if I can handle my own company,” Daniel explained.
He interviewed potential marketing representatives to pass out flyers and hired painters to complete the projects.
“It’s all on our own – we schedule all the jobs and we make sure all the painters are there on time and getting the job done,” Daniel continued. “If I get through the first year and am still interested, there’s opportunity for a second year (of running the business).”
Through his coursework at MTSU, Daniel has learned the fundamentals of owning and managing a business, and the internship is providing him the opportunity to implement what he’s learned.
“We have covered a lot of the materials … even this year in business law, it’s good to know what kinds of laws you have to follow in hiring and interviewing,” he said. “And the training they gave me was a lot more hands-on.
Giving estimates and marketing – you have to go door-to-door to sell your product and sell yourself. That has really helped me out, going out there and getting out of my comfort zone by talking to a lot of different people and letting them know about me and my business.”
Students like Daniel who are looking to gain real world experience typically opt for internships – some paid, others unpaid – before graduation. Aside from the phone answering and coffee runs, students shadow employers to learn the ins and outs of their companies.
Behind the scenes and field experience are both essential, says Patrick Geho, state director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at MTSU and faculty member in the College of Business.
“We like to emphasize their employability with firms when they graduate, as opposed to just being entrepreneurial themselves,” Geho explained. “If I were to hire a student with major in entrepreneurship, I’m getting somebody who has a broad prerequisite in accounting, in economics, in finance, and on top of that, a fairly keen understanding of how business operates from an investment and risk point-of-view.”
The business community and MTSU’s entrepreneurship department facilitate the placement of entrepreneurship students and concrete industry management students in internship programs. Given the economy, some employers may not have the resources to pay student workers and students may not have the ability to work without getting paid. In some such cases, the TSBDC will fund the experience, Geho said.
“Both departments are actively and aggressively trying to place these kids,” he said. “I tell our students, and we teach them in the Capstone course, that when they leave, if they’re financially not able to venture into what they are interested in as far as an owned business, that they need to be approaching employers with the fact that they’re a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-most.”
These students have quite the diversification of skill sets, and they’re more valuable to employers because their personalities are very versatile, says Geho. Additionally, employers shouldn’t be weary of entrepreneurship graduates.
“They’re curious people, and they want to be well-rounded and more diversified – employers appreciate that fact,” he said. “If they treat a personal well and they’re a valuable asset to the firm, they may be a lifelong employee if the opportunity presents itself. I don’t know that employers look at them as a threat. I think they see a toolbox with a lot of tools, not just a wrench.”
All the education and experience in the world is useless without a developed work ethic.
“One thing they have to take away is ‘I’ve got to get up, and I’ve got to stay at it all day long, or it isn’t going to work,’” Geho said. “I don’t care what major or what graduate degree or what doctoral degree is achieved, if you don’t have developed work ethic, you’re done for. You need drive, but you’ve also got a leg up when you have the drive coupled with the education that enhances intellectual capacity.”
Right now, MTSU’s Daniel has both, and he’s ready and eager to get business started. He even set up a booth at See Spot Run 5K to spread the word about his business and garnered several leads. His painters were trained by Sherwin-Williams this week, and Textbook Painters will begin production on May 21. In fact, Daniel said he has three weeks worth of jobs already scheduled.
“I learned when I got my first job that I really wasn’t trying to work for anybody else,” he said. “Taking that risk and being able to make that kind of money doing your own thing just really appeals to me.”
For information or to schedule an assessment, contact Daniel with Textbook Painting at 615-787-7112.