Chris Brown (MBA '20) Shares How the EMBA Program Helped Him Take his Business to the Next Level

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Chris Brown (MBA ‘20)
NYU Stern Program: Executive MBA
Company: Teed & Brown, Inc
Industry: Lawn care
Chris shares how the EMBA program helped him take his business to the next level and lessons on being an entrepreneur. 
Tell us about your professional history and starting your own business. How did you get into the lawn care industry?

I was originally planning on becoming a Golf Course Superintendent, so my undergraduate degree is in Turfgrass Science. But then the entrepreneurial itch hit me and I decided to turn that education into a business. I then met my partner who brought a decade of hands-on experience and sales training to the mix.
What led you to consider Stern's EMBA program, and how did you decide it was a good investment for your business?

It was honestly a little out of desperation! My partner and I were somewhat victims of our own success. Our business had grown nicely, but neither of us really understood how to run a business at the size we were becoming. It was either this or hire an experienced CEO for around $200k per year. When we thought of it that way, it made a lot of sense to take this route instead.
I looked at 3 highly ranked EMBA programs within a reasonable distance from my home. The other 2 schools stressed the value of their name on the degree. NYU focused on the educational opportunity. That’s what sold me.
What unique perspectives, advantages, or challenges did you have as one of the few members of your class currently running their own business?

I have had the ability to put my education to use in real time. I can learn something over a class weekend and begin implementing the concepts and ideas during the following week. That has allowed me to see the effectiveness of this program as I go through it rather than internalizing the ideas in hopes of using them in the future.
How did the EMBA program help you grow as a business owner? What strategies and concepts were you able to implement, and what effect has it had on your business?

If I were to get into specifics, I could write a book. But the biggest takeaway is a broader, big picture understanding of what a business is and how it runs effectively. Understanding all the moving parts, their roles and how they all work together has allowed me to troubleshoot problems and potential problems much more quickly and effectively than ever before. 
Is there a single lesson you learned at Stern that has proved to be most valuable so far?

All the different parts of your business need to be aligned towards a specific ideal while being designed to work effectively with all the other parts of your business. 
What advice do you have for other small business owners, or those looking to start a business in today's VC-backed startup world?

Think and plan, but if you don’t make the leap, it’ll never happen. I’ve seen too many “wantrepreneurs” who had a great business idea but managed to get sidetracked at every turn. You can always do more planning and risk analysis, but don’t let that hold you back from getting the proverbial ball rolling. 
Do you have a favorite Stern memory?

It wasn’t a good memory, but it’ll stick with me. I was enjoying an evening on a rooftop bar with my classmates at midnight in Hong Kong during our GST. My business partner called to tell me that we essentially had an employee insurrection back home. We overcame that issue, but I had to draw on all my newly acquired skills and knowledge to get things back on track. The fact that things were going so well with school while my business faced a crisis was a powerful dichotomy. 
Fun facts: where did you go for your last vacation?

My wife and I took the family to Walt Disney World over the Christmas/New Year holiday. It was pure, packed insanity! But we also had a blast & made some great memories.
Any hobbies or interests that you pursue in your downtime?

At the moment, I don’t have much downtime, but I have plans to get my pilot’s license after finishing up the MBA. I took an introductory flying lesson a few months ago & I’m hooked!