Dollars & Sense

While many students come to college to gain employment skills and knowledge, some students are inspired to start their own business ventures.

The Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry invited Randal Pinkett, winner of season four of NBC’s “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump, t0 FAMU Friday to advise students on how to turn ideas into dollars.

As founder and chief executive officer of BCT Partners, a consulting firm specializing in management, technology and organizational development consulting, Pinkett advised students to assess their motivation before beginning to make moves.

“Ask yourself if you’re passionate about what you want to do. It’s only when you’re passionate about what you do (that) you’ll put all your energy into it,” Pinkett said in an interview. “That’s with anything.”

He said passion alone would not carry innovative students to their desired level of success.

“No individual brings all of the traits (to the table).”

Pinkett’s fame from his endeavors on “The Apprentice” played a significant role in his success, but he doesn’t credit it all to himself.

“I have three business partners – they were all from college,” he said. “I get a lot of the credit, but I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Although Pinkett chose college friends and a roommate to develop his team, he did this with careful thought. He considered the quality of their bond and the talents they offered.

He mentioned students should evaluate five forms of capital when choosing a team. They include: social, in terms of the amount and type of people they know; intellectual, for the insight and knowledge from all teammates; cultural, as it relates to demographic and communal ties; human, which is one’s experience and skill sets; and financial, to include money, assets and potential income.

Pinkett said he hopes students do not “underestimate the value of what they can provide.”

“All of this isn’t magic,” said Jack Sams, director of licensing at Florida State University. “The problem is … people often jump around and don’t have a systematic approach.”

When it comes to teamwork, Sams said, “There has to be a plan for what you do – together – everyone has to understand their part.”

Some students have already mastered this concept.

Deliena Stone, 24, a fifth-year business administration student from Miami, is the CEO of an SBI business planning team that has received national and local recognition for its endeavors.

“Before starting to develop your business plan, you may want to get a provisional patent,” Stone said.

This patent provides temporary protection of an original idea while it’s in developmental stages.

Stone said blacks rarely get into technology entrepreneurship because of the risks.

“Many people want to get into the mom-and-pop businesses – that’s not where the money is,” she said.

Pinkett said risks are good to take, but one needs to know the market they are entering and how the business venture will provide for it.

“Unlike most people in real estate who just focus on flipping property, I want to do appraisals, mortgages and securities,” said Patrick Emilien, 21, a junior finance and applied economics student from Miami.

Emilien, also president of FSU’s Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, seeks to start an investment development firm. He said a broader focus in real estate is necessary to keep up with economic trends.

“You’ve got to be able to adjust,” he said. “I’d prefer not to trade dollars for hours. I want an exponential income.”

For more information log onto