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Turning dreams into reality with help of entrepreneur program

| Judy Berthiaume

When Taylor Pierce arrived on UW-Eau Claire’s campus she never imagined that her passion for baking would help her find a major — and hopefully a career — that she loves.

The Ashwaubenon native will graduate in December with a degree in management with an entrepreneur emphasis, as well as with a plan to open her own Cupcakery, a cupcake bakery.

“I’ve always had the passion and love for baking,” says Taylor, who serves as vice president of advertisements for UW-Eau Claire’s student Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. “Knowing what I create is making someone else’s day or brings on a smile, makes me smile. For that reason, it keeps the passion and the inspiration to do what I love to do. I have a creative niche I’m putting together for my business, but I don’t want to give it away quite yet. But look for my Cupcakery in the future!”

When Taylor earns her degree, she will be among the first Blugolds to have completed all the classes that are part of UW-Eau Claire’s recently revamped and growing entrepreneurial program. Now considered one of the most comprehensive programs in Wisconsin, nearly 75 Blugolds currently are entrepreneur majors or minors.

The university will celebrate Entrepreneur Week with a series of events Oct. 5-8 that will feature successful entrepreneurs sharing their stories with students and others about creating businesses to fill market niches that vary from real estate to retail to coffee.

Taylor, a student-athlete who excelled on the softball field as well as in the classroom, took some time to share a little about how the entrepreneur program is giving her the knowledge and tools she needs to make her dream of opening her own business a reality.

Why did you enroll in the entrepreneur program?

I actually started my college career as a biology-pre vet major but switched to the entrepreneurial program at the end of my freshman year. When I decided to switch majors, I knew I wanted to own my own business. I knew going the business route was the right choice and the entrepreneurial program was meant for me.

The entrepreneurial program has taught me the process of owning a business and the challenges to expect. The professors brought in guest speakers to talk about their businesses and the process they took to get where they are now. I enjoy hearing about their risks and rewards. It’s part of the inspiration to keep me going after my dream!

While growing up, my wonderful parents taught me to never give up and always go after my dreams. Switching majors to go after my dream wasn’t as scary as I thought because I knew they would always support me.

Another big inspiration came from a family friend back home. She has owned and operated her own business for nine years. Her business is a retail store that sells anything you need for baking plus baking classes. I worked for her while in high school and learned a lot from her by watching the passion she has while talking about her business or with customers.

 

What are of the entrepreneur program’s strengths?

Getting to know the other students in the program. By having a lot of the same classes with them, I got to know their interests and what type of business they want to start. We all help each other by giving advice and sharing our thoughts on each other’s business plans to help get to the next step in the process. There are times when I’m talking to another student about their business ideas and I think to myself, “Yeah, you’re going to be successful and I have to remember you so I can say ‘Yup I had him or her in my classes.’” This helps my drive to be successful.

The business plan writing class taught me the importance of the back office knowledge, and how understanding the numbers can help drive the strategy and profit in a business. This is when it really hit me that I could be running my own business within the next couple of years.

Being part of the CEO organization while working my way through this program was another highlight. Most of the students in it are from the entrepreneur major. We have similar ideas and passion to grow CEO.  It’s exciting to think that I’m part of recreating the organization and the entrepreneur program for future students at UW-Eau Claire.

What advice do you have for students considering the entrepreneur program?

If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to go after it.

But know that not all students that start in the program have an idea of what they want to own and build into a viable company. These students know they have to have passion and be willing to work to run a business. They come into the program to get help to find a business idea.

There’s always a person or persons in this world to give you support and the help that you need. So go meet new people and be willing to learn about their interest. Network!