Concierge with an MBA

Shopping for a client, cultivating contacts, teaching a class, recording radio ads -- it's a wonder I find time, somehow, to stock up on groceries

I am the founder and sole proprietor of Ayuda, a concierge service company in Rochester, N.Y. It started off as an errand and concierge service for individuals and, in 2005, made the transition to working primarily with companies. We still cater to individual clients, but the majority of our marketing and sales efforts focus on businesses looking to improve their employees' work/life balance. We also have programs designed to assist companies with client appreciation and tenant loyalty.

At the start of my MBA program at the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, I was concerned that I would be at a disadvantage because, at 21, I was the youngest in my class and had virtually no traditional full-time work experience.


  What I did have under my belt, however, was a conglomeration of consulting projects and marketing internships, as well as a past entrepreneurial venture that specialized in relocation consulting. At Simon, all of these experiences proved much more beneficial than I anticipated.

About halfway into my first year, I began to understand how the concepts and skills I was learning applied not only to a corporate career but also to another startup company. It was then that I began writing a business plan for Ayuda. Instead of searching for a summer internship, I decided to launch my second business. Here is a typical day:

6:30 a.m. -- Hit the snooze button.

8:00 a.m. -- Run a few personal errands on my way to work. Pull into the garage below our new office in downtown Rochester, where we offer on-site concierge service to residential tenants.

8:30 a.m. -- Send e-mails and have breakfast at my desk. Prepare sales kit for client meeting and pack bag for display at networking event.

9:00 a.m. -- My colleague arrives, and we discuss our schedules. There are several requests today, most of which she will handle. We discuss what needs to be addressed in the appointments she has with three of the vendors in our business-referral network.

9:30 a.m. -- Hold a conference call with a client to discuss quarterly usage report. Develop a new internal marketing strategy to remind the client's employees about our service and educate them about the different ways they can use it.

10:15 a.m. -- New corporate client visits the office for a quick tour. I offer a sneak peek at the members-only portion of our Web site before it is launched, and sit down to sign a contract for our Employee Loyalty Program.

11:00 a.m. -- Meet with the account executive for our radio advertising. We discuss our new campaign and head into the studio to record our new spots. We were a little wary about whether radio advertising would work for us, but it has directed a huge number of people to our Web site and has led to the signing of several contracts.

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