Matt Handwerk ’22 MBA shares what Lehigh, life and entrepreneurship has taught him.
By Beth Tancredi
Image Courtesy of Matt Handwerk
In January 2020, high demand for his accounting services led Matt Handwerk to fast-track his business, Advanced Accounting and Tax Solutions, to a full-time operation prior to completing his MBA.
Now, with just a handful of credits left before getting his degree later this year, Handwerk has learned some valuable lessons from life, Lehigh and entrepreneurship.
“The goal has been to apply knowledge from the MBA program directly to my business,” he explains.
Target your market. Handwerk says that marketing should always be part of your business model. “In the beginning, I made mistakes about my target audience and how to reach them, and it didn’t turn out well. But I learned from those mistakes and grew the business,” says Handwerk.
Know your numbers. “If you don’t know whether you’re actually making money, you’re going to go bankrupt,” explains Handwerk, “A crash course in accounting should be required learning.”
Negotiate. A class in negotiation will pay for itself. “My negotiations class was my favorite because it taught me the skills and alternatives to the negotiation process and what happens if you walk away. I’ve already made thousands for myself in salaries and business deals,” he says.
Be the leader. “In one of my earlier classes, I had a group that struggled to complete assignments because no one could ever meet. I took that opportunity to step up and manage all the timelines and next steps to make sure we achieved our goals,” describes Handwerk.
As early as his undergrad years, Handwerk already knew that the tax preparation he was doing for his friends would one day evolve into a bigger business, but he also knew that he needed to learn more to be successful.
“I was looking for a top-tier MBA program but needed to have some flexibility because I was working at the time. My father has his MBA from Lehigh, so it made sense to start there to see what they had to offer,” says Handwerk.
After meeting with the advisors for the FLEX MBA program and taking a couple of business classes, Handwerk was convinced that Lehigh was the place to be.
Specifically designed for working professionals, Lehigh’s FLEX MBA program has allowed Handwerk to structure his class schedule around his own business interests and his own schedule – offering a year-round catalog of courses that can be taken online or in-person.
“The FLEX MBA program gives you the opportunity to concentrate in your field of interest or choose from a diverse set of classes,” says Handwerk. “The range of ideas I picked up from diversifying my course work suited my situation perfectly.”