My name is Cody Fergusson and thanks to Centro, I became the business advisor to Tina Stevens - the Oakland pastry chef who started the bakery shop A Girl Named Pinky - while pursuing my MBA at the University of San Francisco School of Management. This opportunity exposed me to so much practical business experience, and provided me with so much personal growth, leaving me changed and inspired to do more good for small business entrepreneurs in our community. This blog entry is me starting to do just that!
For me, Centro’s MBA Advisor Program made explicit and transparent the stark contrast between the Bay Area’s resourceful technology startups that go from zero to hero in a matter of a few years, and the numerous small businesses created right here every day with a lot less, but with so much heart, talent and wit. Centro offers these small business entrepreneurs a platform to access more resources, including business administration advisors like me.
I went into the program with an open mind, cognizant of the fact that I have some formal business training, but don’t have all the answers nor the personal contextual experience to fully support Tina. I also knew I was backed by the structure and methodology provided by the Centro team, and that with their guidance I could help her prepare for success. After all, I am a small business entrepreneur myself and my coffee business, Caffea, has already established many of the business processes Tina was working towards.
Over the course of 14 weeks and 75+ hours, together we prepared to grow Tina’s business. As a result, she now has a thriving bakery pop-up shop in Oakland. That was real and it felt great!
Centro’s MBA Advisor Program is a true win-win program for entrepreneurs and MBA students. I not only learned and practiced business consulting techniques (ie. how to guide conversations by asking questions, how to be a resource to other people by applying different frameworks of thinking, how to work with someone who may have different personality traits, etc.) but I also learned that as a small business consultant, I am playing a part in growing someone’s dream.
Today, A Girl Named Pinky is a business with a solid foundation and a clear understanding of its financials and marketing next steps. And Tina is both inspired and prepared to continue on a pathway towards bigger, better and more empowering life choices.
On behalf of Centro, myself and the many other entrepreneurs we support, I wholeheartedly invite you to find your pathway to support our local and underserved small business community as well.