December 1, 2008



Dr. Tom Hinthorne, College of Business, 657-2327
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Senior students in the College of Business at Montana State University Billings are looking for business owners who need business plans, a project that will not only add value to area businesses, but will provide valuable educational experience for MSU Billings students.


The project in an ongoing endeavor by Dr. Tom Hinthorne, professor of management at the MSU Billings College of Business, to help students and businesses in the state. Hinthorne said that students in his Management 488: Business Strategy class use the experience to put their classroom theory into practice and showcase their talents.


“This is a great opportunity to help students become valued employees,” said Hinthorne.


In the spring semester of 2008, two student teams entered the business plan competition at the University of Montana and one team placed third and won $3,00O for a plan to capture and use carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.


Among other things, the business plans will provide:

  • A comprehensive review of the client’s marketing strategy using proven marketing concepts.

  • An Excel financial model of the client’s business on a CD, including five-year pro forma financial assumptions, income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow. In addition, the client will receive 10-year free cash flow analyses using payback, net present value, and internal rate of return concepts. The students will link the Excel worksheets, so the client can do “what if” financial analyses (e.g., what if sales grew at 10% instead of 5%, etc.).

Teams of four to five senior students participate in developing the plans and work closely with the business owners. Each team will meet with its business owner to prepare a written client commitment promising specific accomplishments and full confidentiality.


The students will research best practices in the industry and include these in the business plan. In April, the students will invite representatives of the businesses to attend a presentation at the College of Business. The students will present their findings; the businesses will receive a full comprehensive business plan; and the College of Business will charge each business only $100.

The students will not incur costs on behalf of the business. If the students travel outside the Billings area at the request of the business, the business will be billed for the students’ travel expenses at state rates.


For more information on how to request a business plan, please call Hinthorne at 657-2099; fax him at 657-2327; or e-mail him at


In addition, those interested in having a business plan developed should provide a brief history of the business and explain where you would like to see the business in 5-10 years.