Small Business Institute (SBI) Consulting Program

The University of Cincinnati is a charter member of The Small Business Institute® (SBI) program and The Small Business Institute Directors' Association (SBIDA). Located in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, the SBI facilitates a mutual exchange between students who want to learn more about small business and entrepreneurship, and organizations that want to further their success.


The University of Cincinnati SBI program operates a program that provides low-cost consulting to area businesses.

The focus of the Lindner College of Business field case study program is twofold:

  • To provide customized, confidential management consulting to Greater Cincinnati businesses participating in the experience.
  • To create a meaningful learning experience for UC students interested in entrepreneurship, small business, and corporate ventures.


Under the guidance of Institute faculty, teams of graduate-level or senior undergraduate-level Lindner College of Business students meet with business owners/managers over the full semester academic term. During this consulting phase, students record a history of the firm, identify goals and objectives, and discuss strategies to achieve these goals. At the end of the term, the student team presents to the owner/manager a comprehensive business report or business plan, depending on which is more appropriate.

Sample consulting projects include:

  • Industry and competitive analysis
  • Crafting strategic growth plans
  • Preparing startup business plans
  • Conducting market research
  • Developing marketing strategies
  • Recommending improvements to operations/systems
  • Feasibility studies and cost-benefit analysis
  • and more…


  • A+ client satisfaction rating
  • Dozens of awards in local, regional, and national competitions.
  • Up to thirty consulting engagements annually for regional businesses.
  • More than 600 businesses and 2,000 served over 25 years.


The SBI program is not:

  • A cure-all. There are no magic formulas to insure success. Business participants must work with the students to achieve positive results.
  • A source of free salespeople, stock clerks, bookkeepers, or number-crunchers. The students are advisors and/or consultants.
  • A co-op program nor or an internship. Students are not placed with the participating organization on a full-time basis; the students work with the organization for one to two hours per week.
  • A loan collector nor a spy for the IRS. Client confidentiality is carefully observed.


UC’s SBI program runs twice per year in both fall (late August to early December) and spring semesters (early January to late April). Applications are collected on an ongoing basis throughout the year and are reviewed in July/August for fall semester intake and in November/December for spring semester.