The Integrated Business Core (IBC), part business course, part student organization and part fully functioning business, has begun its 15th year this semester.
Started in 2002, IBC has been available to business department students during their junior year in the fall semester.
Professors in the school of business administration Jon Austin and Jeff Guernsey, oversee the program, though the 27 members of the IBC run the business with minimal instruction.
The IBC mission is threefold. The first tenet is pursuing exceptionalism in everything they do. The second tenet is developing a culture within IBC that reflects their values. And the final tenet is developing lasting relationships with other organizations, both on and off campus.
A large part of running a business is communicating with customers and other organizations. The students and employees of IBC know that creating strong relationships, within and without IBC, is key.
“I just love working with the people,” Katie said. “I feel like IBC has just prepared me so much for working with other people in ways that other classes can’t.”
This semester, the IBC is providing six different events and products. The first one was the “Ready, Set, Glow” event in October.
The event included several glow-in-the-dark events such as Glow Golf and Glow Facepainting. Participants also enjoyed Bubble Soccer and other tailgating activities.
Running an event like “Ready, Set, Glow”, requires a lot of effort and communication. The IBC is in charge of coordinating with vendors and suppliers, finding and training volunteers and also being aware of any potential legal issues.
“We have to consider any situation that might occur,” Flavin said.
The students of IBC must be prepared to react to situations, such as bad weather for outdoors events and late suppliers.
For the month of November, IBC’s projects include selling mugs and Moonlight Madness T-shirts. The mugs have “Keep calm and read Psalms” written on them.
Andrew Machan, the Psalms Mugs project manager, and a junior accounting major, said the IBC hopes the mugs will encourage students to accept the challenge of reading Psalms throughout the month of November.
IBC as a Business
The IBC’s goal is to equip business students with the skills they need to succeed in their field after college. They do this by allowing students to gain experience “in a controlled but uncontrolled environment,” Flavin said. “You’re dealing with real vendors, real customers [and] real money.”
The students in IBC present their business plan and ideas for approval, and then receive a loan with which to start the company.
Of course, the students must follow Cedarville rules about how to handle their finances. “But as long as we’re in those guidelines, we can do whatever we want with [the finances]. We can sell pretty much any product as long as it doesn’t go against the rules of Cedarville,” Machan said.
IBC as a Class
Students who are interested in being a part of IBC first take a marketing class in their sophomore year. The class, specifically designed as a prerequisite to IBC, also fulfills a requirement for all business majors. Throughout the course, around 60 students brainstorm business ideas and test concepts. Once the fall semester starts and IBC begins, the students who continued into IBC take the ideas from the previous semester and make them happen.
The IBC practicum course is a hybrid between a classroom setting and a business meeting.
“It’s like an internship with your class,” Machan said.
IBC hopes its products, services and events become a part of the Cedarville culture.
“We want to make IBC something people will remember,” said Katie Carmichael, the assistant director for one of the small business units.
The IBC puts a strong emphasis on making sure everything they do has a purpose outside of simply making a profit.
“Everything that we’re doing is strategically designed so it has a purpose to enhance someone’s well-being,” Flavin said.
Each year, the IBC donates all of its earnings to non-profit organizations. Each member also donates a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer work to those same organizations. This year, IBC is partnering with Gospel Mission and Changing Lives Now.
The IBC practicum is not offered in the spring semester. Every fall a new team of business majors create a new IBC. Because of this, Flavin said, “It’s hard to create a sustainable business, because [the IBC is] here, it runs, it ends. There’s this cycle of starting and ending.”
With this in mind, the IBC hopes to create a strong reputation, so that next year the IBC has relationships with other organizations to go back to.
Paolo Carrion is a freshman journalism major and campus news writer for Cedars. He enjoys drinking hot chocolate, reading comic books and making animal crackers watch as he devours their family.