Entrepreneurial Support Center (ESC) Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Entrepreneurial Support Center (ESC)?

The Entrepreneurial Support Center (ESC) is a new program at the Research and Business Development Center that focuses on helping small business owners, who have completed the Self-Reliance Services Starting and Growing My Business course, move the needle for their business. New clients work with three to four BYU-Idaho students, majoring in Business Management, Marketing and/or Finance, to work on two modules that will improve their business plan. These modules are: Business Concept, Competitive Analysis, Finances and Operations, Pricing Strategy, Marketing, and Cash Management.


Do I need to pay anything to participate?

This is a free, no obligation, opportunity. None of our ESC clients pay a dime to participate, though many chose to move on to our paid ALPS projects after their time at the ESC.


What topics can you help me with?

We can help you with the following:

  • Business Concept | How does my product/service address my customer’s needs? What are my customer’s needs? Who are my customers? What should my product or service be/include?
  • Competitive Analysis | What is my competitive advantage? What do my competitors offer? Who is my target audience? How large is the market? What are the competing products or services?
  • Finances and Operations | Will my business be profitable? How much revenue can I expect to make? How do I track my expenses? How can I reduce my operating costs?
  • Cash Management | How do I track my revenue? How do I keep my business and personal finances separate?
  • Pricing Strategy | What’s the best price point for my product/service? What price point are my competitors selling at? How much is my target audience willing to pay?
  • Marketing | Should I have social media accounts and if so, which ones? What’s the best way to market to my audience?


How much involvement should I expect to contribute?

We ask our clients to meet with our student advisors four times in those two weeks, usually for 30-60 minutes per meeting. The advisors may also ask you to do quick assignments each week, such as give them specific information, or make a decision for your business that impacts their research. Overall, you can expect to spend four to six hours of your time in those two weeks.


Who will I be working with?

You’ll work with a small team of three to four BYU-Idaho students; most of which are Business Management, Marketing, and Finance majors.


What happens when I sign up as a client?

Depending on when you sign up, and where we are in the cycle for that quarter, you can expect to receive an email from the client liaison with an introduction to the ESC, and an invitation to do an introductory phone call. After that, you’ll receive another email about having your first meeting with the ESC administration to determine where your business is at and what work will benefit you the most. At this meeting you should bring your Starting and Growing My Business book, your business journal, your product or a detailed description of your service, and any other relevant information. Once we have determined a scope of service, we will contact you with your team’s contact information and your project start date.

From there, you’ll begin meeting with your team and start your two week project.


What can I expect to get at the end of the project?

It depends on what work the team does for you. At the least, you can expect to be given a presentation of the student advisors findings and recommendations. Some projects may also include a handout or list of resources for your business. 


What can I do after my ESC project finishes?

Once your project is done you have a few options:

  1. Do a second ESC project the next quarter
    1. You are always welcome to come do a second ESC project the next quarter if you feel you have more work that needs to be done. 
  2. Move on to an ALPS | Basic project
    1. You can sign up for an ALPS | Basic project, which is a 12 week program working with a team of four to six BYU-Idaho students from various majors. These projects provide greater flexibility on what can be done and depend on your expertise to guide the team. ALPS | Basic are $399.


How do I sign up for the ESC?

If you’re ready to take your business to the next step with the ESC program, please fill out the following interest form: http://bit.ly/ESC-SignUp

If you think the ALPS Basic program might be a better fit, please go here to learn more.

Spring 2019 Project Excellence Awards

The Research and Business Development Center is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Spring Semester President’s, Director’s, and Project Excellence awards. These students and project managers have gone above and beyond to present their clients with excellent work and proven their skills in the workplace. Please join us in congratulating these students on their outstanding work!


President’s Award – Gold Medal Winner 

Client: Emerson

Student Team: Junior Analyst – Mason Taylor | Research Specialists – Elena Guido, Ismael Rohn Cardenas, Kevin Bosley, Roldo Eliason, Sara Villarroel, and Westley Cottam

Student Project Manager (coach): Bernard Seariac

RBDC Mentor: John Ward

This team excelled by completing three high priority marketing projects for the Emerson Helix Center – a new products innovation center located on the University of Dayton campus. The three projects included (1) a competitive analysis of various products in the U.S. markets, (2) an inventory control and assessment project and (3) a study of new electronic products being introduced in some markets in the U.S.    

Things can seem overwhelming at times. Coming together as a team isn’t easy. However, as you divide the work and rely on other’s strengths, it will all come together in the end.” -Roldo Eliason

Teamwork and communication are key to success.” – Kevin Bosley

“Working on the Emerson Helix project allowed me to gain invaluable skills and experience that will greatly aide me in career. I learned how the business world works and was able to work closely with my team and the company executives to produce a project that I never thought I was capable of. 10 out of 10 recommend!” -Westley Cottam

“It was an eye-opening experience, not only for the great projects and the professional skills I practiced but also for the opportunity to work with my different teams’ partners who were a diamond of people. If I got this award is because of them, team partners, junior analysts, project managers and everyone contributing to the training, follow up and any other aspect of the development of the project.” – Elena Guido

Director’s Award – Silver Medal Winner

Client: Alturas

Student Team: Junior Analyst — Merridy Anderson | Research Specialists — Enedic Lopez, Igor Kiselev, Kristene Fisher, and Nate Barlow

Student Project Manager (coach): Daniella Jordan

RBDC Mentor: Will Jenson

This team did research to explore the Idaho entrepreneurial ecosystem including information about business incubators and startup funding sources like angel investors and venture capital partners. The team far exceeded the expectations of the client. Following the final presentation, the client committed to five more RBDC projects.

“I have learned the investment is important and interesting part of our life and wellbeing.” – Igor Kiselev

“Working on the Alturas Capital project both challenged me and developed my business leadership skills. To accomplish the goals required, I found it necessary to be proficient in my research, organization, flexibility, and trust.  I love the quote by Warren Buffet, “Someones sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”. My teams project was just the beginning of a much larger one. I feel privileged to work with a client and team in planting the seed for something amazing!” – Merridy Anderson 

Project Excellence Award – Bronze Medal Winner

Client: Sublette Center

Student Team: Junior Analyst — Ephraim Tripp | Research Specialists — Chaney Mobley, Andrew Peery, Cortney Helland,  David Jones, Dieunise Thermidor and Zachary Dreher

Student Project Manager (coach): Will King

RBDC Mentor: Will Jenson

This team worked with the Director of the Sublette Center in Pinedale Wyoming. The team conducted marketing surveys and made recommendations for where the Center could look to improve their internal operations and where to look for growth opportunities. They also evaluated studied the effectiveness of their website and made significant recommendations as to how to improve the reach and effectiveness of it. 

“I learned how to work in a team and contribute my portion so the work could get done. I learned a lot about marketing and the different strategies that go into play. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with the Sublette Center.” – Zachary Dreher

Working with the RBDC this past semester was a very valuable experience that taught be about the importance of good leadership. I am grateful for the network of relationships that I was able to create with great individuals while there, and I am sure that their abilities and work ethic will be of great value to society as they go through their careers.” – Ephraim Tripp

“It was such a neat opportunity doing this project for the Sublette Center. Being able to do research and understand the target market helped me a lot and I am excited to use these skills again in the future. “ – David Jones

“I learned that while our client was in the health care industry, that didn’t mean all of us working on the project had to be and really it was to our advantage that we weren’t all Healthcare Administration Majors. Our team at the RBDC was made up of people from a variety of different backgrounds, majors and specialties. What really made our team successful was our ability to see how our differences could benefit the team and our client. Having in the mindset of learning from our teammates and finding different ways to succeed in ways we didn’t think we could was an eye opening experience.” – Chaney Mobley

“I definitely appreciated the teamwork I had for my group. Everyone was working so diligently to get the top information. I definitely felt like everyone was a part of the group and that our leader didn’t place himself above us. He made all of us feel included and so it was such a great experience as a whole.” – Andrew Peery

“I enjoyed working with a client in my field.” – Cortney Helland

Advertising on Social Media: What Platform Should You Use?

Person holding tablet with icons of social media platforms on the screen

When it comes to social media advertising the first step is to know which platform is best for you to use. Each platform has unique features to offer depending on what you want. Here is a quick overview of some of the things each platform offers, and general tips for using each one.



Facebook is great for reaching people ages 25 and up. Post at least once a day for every day your business is in operation. You can use targeted ads to reach the audience you want with as little as five dollars a day.


LinkedIn is only for business professionals and work related topics. This a great place to post a job opening or news on your company. You can use a business LinkedIn page like a Facebook business page to update what’s going on with your company and post about news in your industry. LinkedIn is best for large companies or Business-to-Business (B2B) companies.


Instagram is great for high quality photos and minute long videos, usually once a day. Most people pay more attention to the photo than the caption, so make sure to only post attention grabbing content. Instagram stories are another great way to reach your audience. Feel free to post as many times as you want there.


Twitter is fast-paced, news and sass centered platform. It can be a great place to quippy comments on local and national news or sales, as well as a great place for customer service representatives to contact your company. It’s better for large companies to use. You can post up to 8 times a day, and should include as many photos and videos with your content. 


Pinterest is great for anyone with a design, DIY or crafty business. Be warned that it’s difficult to build a following on Pinterest and it can be difficult to get regular sales. If you want to do Pinterest, you will need to commit hundreds of hours to making it happen. 


Snapchat is a great way to reach the teenagers, but it’s not a great way to sell product. Like Pinterest, it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a buying audience. However, it can be a great place to build a community and connect more personally with your audience because most people use this site to talk with their friends, not to connect with businesses.