Exterior view of food-based businesses on Nutwood Avenue in Fullerton, California, on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 2020.

Planning to open a business, such as these fast food establishments in Fullerton? Market research is invaluable, and it’s at your fingertips – for FREE – thanks to the CSUF chapter of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

In today’s competitive economy, knowledge about your target market is more essential than ever. Thanks to funding from the nationwide Small Business Administration (SBA), Cal State Fullerton’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers complimentary in-depth market research reports for business startups across all industries in Orange County, the Inland Empire and the Southern California desert regions, through the SBDC Intel program.

Under the direction of senior business startup experts from the SBA and entrepreneurs in the community, highly skilled student intern staff at the university’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics prepare market research reports. These provide a combination of hard demographic and economic trend data, such as consumer spending, income levels, costs and market size; and qualitative psychographic data – inside looks at lifestyle segments such as soccer moms, young professionals or upscale dual income childless couples.

Consulting such in-demand databases as ESRI, IBIS World, Profitcents and the U.S. Census Bureau, the completed reports would be valued between $3,000 and $5,000 if conducted by a private firm.

For all businesses, the SBDC provides a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the sector as a whole, as well as major global industry leaders. And for traditional brick-and-mortar companies, SBDC provides an invaluable competition locator, identifying similar businesses within a given radius.

Preparing the Next Generation – Both Students and Businesses

Mike Daniel ’99 (marketing), director of the CSUF SBDC, agrees that the research program is mutually beneficial to the students, the university and the public.

“The funding allows us to do a whole lot of things we haven’t done before,” says Daniel in a 2019 CSUF News article. “We’re reaching out to new areas of business and offering new programs, including market research conducted by students from Mihaylo College of Business and Economics’ award-winning business program.

“Our student interns create market research reports for business owners who are looking to grow and scale, create a new market or learn more about their competition. To date, the market research teams have created more than 500 reports, all free to the business owner.”

For More Information

Need a report for your business concept? Reach out to the SBDC at research.request@ociesbdc.com or call 657-278-3672 and discuss your needs.

For more on the Small Business Development Center, which offers workshops, training programs and individualized consulting for those seeking to start their own businesses, visit the SBDC website.

Or read more of our articles on small business development.

An African American and Caucasian shake hands at a workplace

Photo from Pixabay

The 2010s may have begun with one of the weakest job markets since the Great Depression and fears of double-digit unemployment. But it ended with a U.S. jobless rate of 3.5% in December 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday. Unemployment in the United States is now technically at its lowest level since the late 1960s, though persistent inequalities have grown and concerns have risen about the growth of the working poor and wage stagnation in many professions and demographics.

Despite a slight drop for 2019, the economy has been surprisingly consistent over the past eight years in relatively constant job growth. However, in December, payroll and wage growth missed expectations, with nonfarm new hires declining to just 145,000, down from more than 300,000 as recently as January 2019, and below the expectation of 160,000 new jobs.

But with a combination of an increasing share of part-time work and wages that are not rising as quickly for less than obvious reasons, these numbers belie a somewhat weaker actual condition.

During much of the economic expansion of the 2010s, skeptics have emphasized that there are many discouraged workers on the sidelines who are avoiding the labor market, thus making the unemployment rate seem much lower than the reality. And underemployment – such as part-time jobs in lieu of full-time work – has been significant in much of the decade.

But even on those counts, conditions are better than they have been in some time. A separate measure taking into account underemployment and labor force non-participation reveals the best employment situation in the U.S. since 1994, with a 6.7% jobless rate.

Still, 2019 was, as a whole, the weakest year for new job creation since 2011, with only 2.1 million new jobs added. Manufacturing employment particularly continues to weaken.

Slowdowns in job growth are common as the economic cycle reaches a peak – the best performance before a downturn begins. Many observers believe we are nearing that point today, though there also does not appear to be a catalyst for an outright downturn, leaving the short-term outlook uncertain.

How Low Can You Go? Can Joblessness Fall Further?

So how low can unemployment reasonably go? While joblessness is much lower than some analysts expected even a few years ago, many say wages would be rising faster if the economy were truly at full employment, suggesting that there is still room for job growth.

As the measure resulting in a 6.7% real jobless rate demonstrates, even during the good times in the last quarter century, there has been chronic underemployment, with fewer full-time jobs and a rise in part-time employment that often provides few if any benefits and less security. This is becoming the case even in white-collar employment, much less in traditionally part-time focused fields such as retail, agriculture or freelance roles.

“It’s actually quite surprising how stable job growth has been. Numbers may have been a little lower in 2019 than in 2018 but there doesn’t seem to be evidence of any giant reversal,” notes Nick Huntington-Klein, Mihaylo College Assistant Professor of Economics. “The real question is what’s going on with wages. I think it seems likely that we’re going to find out relatively soon what more-or-less full employment looks like in the current economy, and it may be different than the way we’ve thought about it in the past. The increasing preponderance of part-time work may be at the center of that, but it’s not certain.”

Some analysts have been consistently incorrect in their views that full employment had been reached (check out this article from 2016). As new jobs have continued to be created over the last few years and the jobless rate has declined steadily, it has demonstrated that there is still room for employment – especially full-time stable employment – to grow.

Ed Hart and Tam Nguyen from Cal State Fullerton pose in front of a pho restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in November 2019.

CSUF grad Tam Nguyen ’05 (left) and Center for Family Business Director Ed Hart (right) on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) in November 2019.

Could Vietnam be the next China? Nearly half a century after the Southeast Asian nation came under complete communist control, many economists now believe Vietnam has a bright future in the 21st century global economy, as market- and trade-oriented policies are helping the nation achieve sustained and inclusive growth.

During the 2010s, Vietnam’s GDP growth was at least 5% each year, peaking at 6.8% in 2017, helping the nation of nearly 100 million people transform from one of the most impoverished in Asia to middle-income status.

As the largest business college on the U.S. West Coast and with a strong focus on international outreach, a delegation from Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics visited Vietnam in November 2019, gaining a behind-the-scenes look at the country’s transformation and building bridges for the university community to connect with the region academically and professionally. Read More

Lisa May, Los Angeles KROQ and KLOS radio personality

Photo from Los Angeles Daily News

For more than three decades, Cal State Fullerton alumna Lisa May ’86 (marketing) has been a familiar voice to millions across the Los Angeles region, serving as traffic reporter and in-studio sidekick on KROQ’s Kevin and Bean Show before her ouster in 2015 and then joining KLOS’ Frosty, Heidi and Frank show as the voice of traffic and news before signing off for the last time on Dec. 13, 2019.

Looking ahead to a new chapter as a fitness studio owner in the Palm Springs area, the beloved Inglewood-born radio professional looks back on her past – including her sudden departure from KROQ – and examines her future in an article in the Los Angeles Daily News.

May recounts that, as a teenager in Costa Mesa at Estancia High School, she excelled in speech club, but lacked a clear career focus, which brought her to Cal State Fullerton’s business school.

Post-graduation, May tried her hand at sales for a few years before turning to radio, inspired by her years of listening to news and the public radio stations she listened to while commuting to CSUF.

Her first radio role would be as an off-air producer at KIK-FM, a country music station in Orange County, where she soon landed an on-air gig.

During her prime with KROQ, May was a traffic reporter, a role that morphed into morning show sidekick on the Kevin and Bean show.

“That part really made it a lot more fun,” she says. “It was kind of freeing to be able to do that.”

KROQ’s sudden decision to fire May during President’s Day weekend in 2015 came about when the station’s management was advised to quit their traffic roundup and hire a new female sidekick, Allie McKay.

May recalls that the friendship and positivity she received at KLOS helped her recover. “They were so welcoming; it made getting fired not so bad,” she says. “And they gave me the opportunity to do more than I did at KROQ, with the newscasts, which I have loved doing.”

Read more on May’s life, career and future in this Daily News article. Or read more of our articles about Mihaylo College’s many and diverse alumni.

Each year, hundreds of new California, federal and local laws go into effect, and 2020 is no exception. Among the most significant is Assembly Bill 5, which will change labor laws to reclassify many independent contractors – most notably drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft – as regular employees. And there’s a minimum wage hike, too.

Here’s what you need to know about the new business laws taking effect in 2020.

Are You Still An Independent Contractor?

From writers to Uber drivers to hairdressers, hundreds of thousands of Californians are independent contractors. And during the 2010s, many businesses relied on this employment arrangement as crucial to their business models. Read More

What does it even mean to be a decision scientist? And why would I want to be one?

You see it every time you look through the course catalog, browse the Cal State Fullerton business college website or look at the directory. Information Systems and Decision Sciences (ISDS). The first part makes sense. But what in the world are decision sciences?

You’ve probably guessed it’s not scientists trying to make decisions. But what is it?

And as a business student, you’ll have to make a decision about it – whether to pursue it as an academic or professional path.

Have no fear, for ISDS Lecturer Daniel Cavagnaro, director of the CSUF Decision Research Center, is here to interpret this field.

“I view decision science as a merger of data science and behavioral science. It is an interdisciplinary collection of quantitative techniques for understanding and improving decision making,” he says. “Some decision scientists study why people choose to do what they do, investigating questions like why people buy insurance, or gamble, or choose not to wear a seat belt. Others focus on optimal decision making, which means balancing risks, costs and benefits in optimal and/or strategic ways to achieve precisely defined goals. This includes data-driven insights to help organizations make better decisions. Read More

The skyline of Topeka, Kansas

The skyline of Topeka, Kansas, one of the U.S. cities offering incentives for new residents. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

For the majority of Americans living in coastal regions or a few hot inland housing markets, buying a home or even renting an apartment is cost-prohibitive for many young professionals. But in other parts of the country, where Rust Belt economics or just lack of interest depresses property values and hinders the local economy, officials are offering financial incentives for out-of-towners willing to put down their roots in their communities.

In a Dec. 14 article in The New York Times, the Kansan capital of Topeka (population 126,587), is the latest community to aggressively woo new residents, offering up to $15,000 for those willing to live and work in the city or other communities in Shawnee County.

With an average two-bedroom apartment rent of $750 per month and home prices averaging around $140,000, the city, which is in the middle of a renaissance, might seem to be a cure-all for the overpriced realities of California and metropolitan areas nationwide. Read More

Cal State Fullerton business alumnus and Agua Caliente tribal councilor Anthony Purnel posing at the Palm Springs Canyons

Anthony Purnel

Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics is widely recognized as a leader in educating today’s diverse U.S. and international young professionals. While the smallest ethnic group in the college’s student body, in the fall 2019 semester, there were 10 American Indian or Alaska native students studying at Mihaylo College.

The college graduated 41 Native Americans and Alaska natives from 2008 to 2018, some of whom returned to their communities to make an economic and societal impact on one of the most underrepresented demographics in modern America.

Among these Native American business Titan alumni is Anthony Purnel ’12 (marketing), who is one of five elected tribal council members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians near Palm Springs, California, his home tribe. Read More

Bhavesh "Bo" Patel, chief portfolio officer of T2 Hospitality

Bhavesh “Bo” Patel

Cal State Fullerton accounting alumnus Bhavesh Patel joined Newport Beach-based T2 Hospitality in January 2017, serving the hospitality management conglomerate as chief portfolio officer.

Patel’s employer has more than $1 billion in assets and is growing to become a leader in Orange County and beyond, with 16 hotels in its portfolio and more in the pipeline.

The hospitality executive discusses with us his career and current role, opportunities for young professionals in the hotel industry, and his plans to give back to his alma mater and industry through membership in the Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management (EHM) Advisory Board. Read More

Concept image of a young redheaded woman overwhelmed in our digital times

Image by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

As we near the third decade of the 21st century, the average internet user is spending more than a quarter of their life online, according to a 2019 report from HootSuite and We Are Social. That translates to more than 100 days of online time for the average internet user each year, and the numbers are even higher for young people or those in office occupations.

While today’s digital technologies have the potential to expand the user’s knowledge, horizons and experiences far beyond anything previously possible, addiction is a rising concern in developed countries around the world, increasingly gaining attention in psychology and social scientific disciplines.

“Symptoms of the overuse of technology could be anything from expressing frustration when offline to a complete disregard of one’s daily responsibilities,” says Ester Gonzalez, an associate professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences (ISDS) at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. Gonzalez is the co-author of the 2019 study, “Internet addiction: When the positive emotions are not so positive,” published in Technology in Society. “Although most of us are guilty of browsing the internet or interacting on social media for what seems like endless hours each day, the consequences of this behavior may be indicative of whether or not someone suffers from some level of addiction.” Read More