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5.8 Cases and Problems
Learning on the Web (AACSB)
Would You Like to Own a Sub Shop?
How would you like to own your own sandwich shop? You could start one on your own or buy one that’s already in business, but an easier way might be buying a franchise from SUBWAY, the largest fast-food franchise in the world (even bigger than McDonald’s). SUBWAY began in 1965 when seventeen-year-old Fred DeLuca opened a tiny sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, hoping to put himself through college. As it turns out, his venture paid off in more ways than one. By 1974, DeLuca was franchising his business concept, and today, there are more than fifteen thousand SUBWAY franchisees in some seventy-five countries.
Go to http://www.subway.com to link to the SUBWAY Web site and learn more about franchise opportunities with the company. After reviewing the information provided on the company’s Web site, answer the following questions:
- What do you have to do to get a SUBWAY franchise?
- How much would it cost to open a SUBWAY shop?
- What training and support would you receive from SUBWAY?
- What advantages do you see in buying a SUBWAY franchise rather than starting a business from scratch? What disadvantages do you see?
Do You Want to Be an Entrepreneur?
Want to learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur? To help you decide whether life as an entrepreneur might be for you, go to http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/interviews/null.htm; then link to the “Interview with Entrepreneurs” section of the About.com Web site and review the entrepreneur interviews. Select two entrepreneurs who interest you, and for each, do the following:
- Describe the company that he or she founded.
- Explain the reasons why he or she became an entrepreneur.
- Explain what qualities, background, or both, prepared the individual to start a business.
After reading the interviews with these two entrepreneurs, answer the following questions:
- What aspects of being an entrepreneur are particularly rewarding?
- What’s the downside of being an entrepreneur?
- What challenges do entrepreneurs face?
- Is entrepreneurship for you? Why, or why not?
Ethics Angle (AACSB)
Term Papers for Sale
You and some fellow classmates are sitting around over pizza one night when someone comes up with an idea for a business. All of you have old term papers and essays lying around, and a couple of you know how to set up a Web page. What if you combine these two assets and start a business selling term papers over the Internet? Over time, you could collect or buy additional inventory from other students, and since some of you are good at research and others are good writers, you could even offer “student clients” the option of customized papers researched and written just for them. You figure that you can charge $15 for an “off-the-rack” paper, and for customized jobs, $10 per double-spaced page seems reasonable.
You all agree that the idea is promising, and you and a partner volunteer to put together a business plan. You have no difficulty with the section describing your proposed business: you know what your business will do, what products it will offer, who your customers will be, how your products will be sold, and where you’ll be located. So far, so good.
Let’s pause at this point to consider the following questions:
- Does selling term papers over the Internet make business sense? Is it a good business idea?
- Could the venture be profitable?
Let’s continue and find out how the business plan proceeds.
Now you’re ready to write your section on industry analysis and the first question you need to answer is, who are the players in the industry? To get some answers, you go online, log on to Google, and enter the search term “term papers for sale.” Much to your surprise, up pop dozens of links to companies that have beaten you to market. The first company you investigate claims to have a quarter-million papers in stock, plus a team of graduate students on hand to write papers for anyone needing specialized work.
There’s also a statement that says something like this: “Our term papers and essays are intended to help students write their own papers. They should be used for research purposes only. Students using our term papers and essays should write their own papers and cite our work.”
You realize now that you’re facing not only stiff competition but an issue that, so far, you and your partners have preferred to ignore: Is the business that you have in mind even ethical? It occurs to you that you could probably find the answer to this question in at least one of the 8,484 term papers on ethics available on your competitor’s Web site, but you decide that it would be more efficient to give the question some thought on your own.
At this point, then, let’s pause again to identify a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself as you prepare a report of your findings for your partners:
- Is the sole purpose of running a business to make a profit, or do you need to be concerned about what your products will be used for? Explain your reasoning.
- Do you need to consider the ethics of what other people do with your product? Explain your reasoning.
When you report on the problem that you’ve uncovered, your would-be partners are pretty discouraged, some by the prospect of competition and some by the nagging ethical issue. Just as you’re about to dissolve the partnership, one person speaks up: “How about selling software that lets faculty search to see if students have plagiarized material on the Web?”
“Sorry,” says someone else. “It’s already out there. Two students at Berkeley have software that compares papers to a hundred million Web pages.”
Team-Building Skills (AACSB)
Knowing how to be an effective team member is a vital lifetime skill. It will help you in your academic career, in the business world, and in nonwork activities as well. It takes time and effort to learn how to work in a team. Part of the challenge is learning how to adjust your behavior to the needs of the group. Another part is learning how to motivate members of a group. A well-functioning team allows members to combine knowledge and skills, and this reliance on diverse backgrounds and strengths often results in team decisions that are superior to those made by individuals working alone.
Are You a Team Player?
As a first step, you should do a self-assessment to evaluate whether you possess characteristics that will help you be a successful team member. You can do this by taking a “Team Player” quiz available at the Quintessential Careers Web site. Go to http://www.quintcareers.com/team_player_quiz.html to link to this quiz. You’ll get feedback that helps you identify the characteristics you need to work on if you want to improve your teamwork skills.
Working Together as a Team
The best approach to specifying appropriate behavior for team members is for the team to come up with some ground rules. Get together with three other students selected by your instructor, and establish working guidelines for your team. Prepare a team report in which you identify the following:
- Five things that team members can do to increase the likelihood of group success
- Five things that team members can do to jeopardize group success
The Global View (AACSB)
Global Versions of MySpace
When Andrew Mason founded Groupon in November 2008, he had no idea that he was headed for an overnight success, but two years after he set out on his entrepreneurial adventure (which, admittedly, isn’t actually overnight), Groupon had more than fifty million registered users and nine million customers who had purchased at least one “daily deal” (http://www.digital-dd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/groupon-ipo-s-1.pdf).
What’s ahead for Groupon? Can its business model be exported to even more locations outside the United States? If you were in charge of global expansion for Groupon, what country would you enter next? What country would you avoid? To identify promising and not-so-promising foreign markets, go to the Groupon Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupon) and click on “Geographic Markets” to obtain a list of counties in which Groupon operates. Also go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm to link to the Country Profiles Web site maintained by BBC News. Study the economic and political profiles of possible overseas locations, and answer the following questions:
- Why do you think Groupon has been so successful in the United States? Cite some of the challenges that it still faces in this country.
- If you were in charge of global expansion at Groupon, which country would you enter next? Why do you think the Groupon business concept will succeed in this country? What challenges will the company face there?
- What country would you avoid? Why is it incompatible with the Groupon business concept?