By Chris Lusvardi
Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Cordia Harrington, founder of the “The Bun Company” shared her insights with Millikin University students on what it takes to start and sustain a profitable business. “The Bun Company” produces a range of products for businesses, including rolls for O’Charleys and buns for McDonald’s. So what type of advice can women in business take away from Harrington’s success? As she told students “No is not an option,”… “You have to keep trying and be resourceful to figure out the problem and make it work. It’s hard work.”
Cordia Harrington knows how hard it can be to start a successful business.
After years of experience, Harrington was able Tuesday to share the lessons she learned on the way to turning The Bun Company into a highly profitable operation. Harrington and her husband, Tom, met with a class of Millikin University students to provide advice about what it takes to start and run a business.
“No is not an option,” Harrington said. “You have to keep trying and be resourceful to figure out the problem and make it work. It’s hard work.”
Harrington was in Decatur to receive the Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship’s 2016 Excellence in Entrepreneurship award. Tom Harrington, who works as chief financial officer for The Bun Company, is a 1970 Millikin graduate and a member of the board of trustees.
The company based in Nashville, Tenn. produces a range of products for other well businesses, including rolls for O’Charleys and buns for McDonald’s. Cordia Harrington was an owner/operator for McDonald’s restaurants in the Effingham area before starting her own business.
She said it was an example of her approach to finding what customers need and then making a product for them.
The Art of Entrepreneur class requires the students to start a business during the semester and sell products in an attempt to meet a sales goal, said Andy Heise, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
“They make it happen and see if it’s for them,” Heise said.
The businesses represent a range of interests, he said. The Harringtons looked over information the students provided them and were able to provide advice and answer questions based on what the students are working on in the class.
Cassandre Menage, a senior management major from France, worked with senior Laure Serenne to start a business selling crepes on campus. They’re trying to reach their sales goal and have talked about how a similar business could be an idea if they were to return to the U.S. after graduation.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Serenne said. “It’s a lot of work.”
Art majors Sarah Suits, Natalie Zelman and Amy Woods started a venture selling artwork on campus. They don’t see it continuing once the class is over but the experience has been valuable as selling their work will always be important for artists.
Zelman said it was inspiring to hear from Harrington and see what needs to be done to be successful in operating a business.