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Smarter Than the Average Bar


How MBA training has fueled Snow & Co.’s growth.

Snow & Co. has been open less than two years, but Kansas City’s startup community has fallen in love with the Crossroads bar and its signature lineup of frozen cocktails.

There’s something else that sets the bar apart: Three of the four owners earned MBAs from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School, and they say their training has been a vital part of building the company.

Do small business owners need an MBA to run their businesses? Well, no, said Jerry Nevins, the CEO of Snow & Co. But having that education can increase entrepreneurs’ effectiveness and help them avoid problems that bedevil many business owners, he noted.

“You don’t need the MBA, but there’s a benefit to be able to be smarter about things,” Nevins said.

Learning to be Growth-Oriented

“Work on your business, not in your business” is advice that practically every owner has heard at some point.

It’s easy to lose sight of that wisdom, though, especially if you get sucked into the daily demands of your business. But that commandment to work on the business was drummed into the Snow & Co. team at UMKC, and so, even as they were busy setting up the bar, they didn’t take their eyes off the long-term goal of greater growth.

That’s one reason why Snow & Co. is already planning an expansion. The company is scheduled to open a second location in downtown Overland Park’s InterUrban ArtHouse development in late 2014. And they’re in early talks about some licensing opportunities.

They’ve been in a better position to explore these options because of their degrees, Nevins said. “You at least know what questions to ask.”

Exposure to Better Solutions

A lack of time is probably the biggest roadblock for small business owners considering an MBA. Admittedly, Nevins and his colleagues weren’t business owners when they were working on their degrees.

Is it really possible for a small business owner to juggle a company and coursework? Nevins gives a qualified yes, if that owner can carve out time.

He believes that time investment will come back in the form of increased productivity. The Snow & Co. team has found that their coursework has taught them to run their companies and lives much more efficiently.

Because of their MBA experience, they were exposed to inventory management systems, scheduling programs and other time-saving devices that allow them to manage operations from home or the road.

“We don’t have to be physically there to handle those things,” Nevins said.

The best way to think about an MBA is to consider it as an opportunity cost, he said. Yes, it takes time and hard work.

“But if you’re going to grow your business and it’s going to thrive, you have to be able to step up.”

James Hart

Written by

James Hart is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.

Categories: HR


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