Los Angeles business owner tells us about his business in education.
To continue our new series of interviews with some local small business owners, we got in the mind of this managing partner in education, and hopefully from his experience other business owners can learn something. We didn’t want our articles to only have information about business loans or financing. So todays article is about someone whose business is important to our future. We were fortunate enough to sit with one of the partners of International American University, a graduate school located in Los Angeles.
1. When did you start IAU?
IAU was incorporated in August 2005 but we started operating as an educational institution in July 2006.
2. What made you decide to start your own school?
IAU was started with the goal of providing a comparable educational service at a competitive price to undeserved markets. Flexibility, affordability, and supportive student service was what differentiated IAU from direct competitors.
3. After getting your Bachelors degree. Did you know you were going to go into business of education? How did that happen?
After getting a Bachelors degree in Psychology from UC, Irvine, I struggled to find myself professionally. I took the GRE and was accepted to a masters in psychology program at USD, but decided not to enroll. I tried working in the secondary school public sector as an aid, then as a substitute teacher. That didn’t suit me either. I then got a job at a small private law school. I realized that adult students was the age group with which I could work. I then decided to pursue a career in private post-secondary education administration. I also decided to go back to school at Coastline Community College to study graphic design. After receiving two certificates in graphic design and in desktop publishing, I pursued a master’s degree in business administration.
4. Having run a university with international ties. What were some interesting things you learned about international business?
Some interesting things I learned about international business include:
* In education, Americans are highly regarded in other countries. When visiting other schools in other countries, I almost felt like a celebrity with students wanting to take photos of me like the paparazzi.
* Banks work differently in different countries. Money is not transferred so freely from other countries to the U.S. All countries require an invoice or debtor slip to bank wire out of their country. Some banks have bank wire maximums per transaction as low as $6,000 USD.
* There seems to be a correlation between driving habits and the country’s government. The more corrupt the country, the worse the traffic and driving conditions.
* The lesser developed the country, the more hospital, genuine, and sincere the people. Americans may be the most ignorant culture about global events and politics.
* I love other culture’s food!
5. Do you run your business on your own, or do you have assistants/staff? How many?
IAU started with 2 employees, including myself. Now, IAU has 6 full-time employees, including myself.
6. Did it take much working capital to get this business started? Did you need to take out any business loans?
No, IAU was started with minimal capital of $10,000. No business loan was used, though thinking back having some extra working capital might have expedited the process.
7. What are your plans for the future of IAU?
By 2015, IAU hopes to complete a very important project and gain one additional nationally recognized approval that will allow IAU to secure financial stability. Then, IAU will pursue an aggressive marketing plan and establish B2B partnerships that will hopefully double its enrollment, currently at 1,200 students.
8. What degrees does IAU offer?
IAU offers associate, bachelor, master, and professional doctorate degrees in business administration. IAU also offers two certificates in accountancy and a bachelor degree in accountancy. All academic programs are delivered on campus or online.
9. What would you like people to know about IAU?
IAU is a small, student-friendly school that caters to its students. Bigger isn’t always better. The best compliment this year was from a student who was recently accepted to IAU. He had completed his master’s degree at Harvard. Upon arriving to IAU and meeting the staff, he was greeted with warmth and friendliness. This student and his wife who had both just arrived with to the U.S., so my admissions staff took them around the local neighborhood to find an apartment and point out local conveniences, such as the bank, grocery stores, etc. The Indian student was so thankful that our staff would take the time out to provide such extra attention. His statement was, “Why don’t more schools treat their students this way?”
10. Do you see yourself expanding your school to have more campus locations? Would that require a business loan?
Expanding IAU with additional campuses is the goal. Expanding through California, then other parts of the U.S., and eventually international campuses is the goal. By that time, a business loan would be necessary.
11. When you started what was the hardest part of growing your business.
When starting IAU, the hardest part was almost everything. As a small business, you are a one-person show who is responsible for marketing, sales, operations, compliance, and HR. You need to be able to switch your “hat” throughout the day, and be mindful of all areas of the business.
12. What are some things that you have done that you never thought would happen with your university?
I never thought that IAU would still be growing 7 years later. The SBA has provided statistics that small businesses have a high failure rate, especially in California. It seems that IAU has surpassed the crucial “failure” years. To be able to expand its recruitment to include F-1 visa students from different countries is exciting. Also, to expand its online degree programs to new emerging countries is a blessing.
13. What advice or tips would you give other businesses owners if they were starting out?
Don’t be an SBA statistic. Learn the business before you start the business. Technicians don’t run businesses; businesspersons run businesses – The Entrepreneurial Myth by Michael E. Gerber.
14. What is the best part of running IAU?
Traveling is part of maintaining relationship with our various school partners overseas. I love to travel. Autonomy and authority are great parts of running IAU. But more importantly, I can look back and be proud of my professional accomplishments.
15. How many hours a week do you work at your business?
14.When starting your business, was there anything you wished you knew before starting your business?
When starting IAU, I wish I knew more about finance, accounting, and employment law.
If you would like to learn more about IAU, you can also visit their Facebook page.
International American University
4201 Wilshire Blvd Suite #610 | Los Angeles | CA | 90010