Business Curriculum

Would You Like to Propose a New Program?

Please contact Lauren Stack at 858.720.1001 x805 or for the New Program Proposal form.

Evolving Curricula

Watershape University (WU) is the result of decades of combined experience among some of the industry’s most accomplished professionals and educators. Our courses are designed to provide crucial knowledge for each student through detailed examination of technical, artistic and business disciplines.


We are constantly developing and fine-tuning course content and structure to enrich the learning experience across a spectrum of essential topics. Here are some courses and areas of study currently being developed.

BUS 1121: Guiding Principles, Objectives and Policies

1.25 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Develop a Business Plan.
●Write a Mission Statement.
●Review Guiding Philosophy and Principles.
●List Standard Operating Procedures.

This program focuses on harmonizing guiding principles, philosophies and ideals with practical policy and procedures. Tactical planning, long-term strategizing, understanding the importance of mission statements, and standard operating procedures are all considered from concept through application.

BUS 1241: Elite Customer Service the Nordstrom Way

1.5 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Define why Nordstrom’s customer service is always best-in-class.
●Review ways that a watershapes retail, service and/or construction business can achieve the highest-quality customer service.
●Discuss the advantages of going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and a positive buying experience.

Based loosely on the book “The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence,” this program identifies the key elements that can be implemented by watershape-dealer professionals and their companies. Learn how to distinguish your business through outstanding customer service.

BUS 1321: Modern Marketing

1.25 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Discuss today’s marketing/media landscape.
●Review reasons why traditional advertising has become obsolete.
●Examine modern advertising/marketing methods.
●Identify lead-generation techniques.

This program examines how to make the most of marketing/advertising resources using word of mouth and digital platforms, and why traditional methods have become less and less cost effective. Techniques discussed include “Hook and Message” advertising and “Interrupt Marketing.”

BUS 1451: An Introduction to Estimating (webinar)

0.75 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Examine overhead, profit, markup, gross margins, profit-and-loss statements, and why to many contractors fail financially.
●List and discuss payment scheduling, managing cash flow, expense management, and linking income to project progress.
●Review steps you can use to advance and enhance estimating capabilities.

There are three primary reasons why construction companies have a disturbingly low rate of success (only 36/4% reach five years in business). Those factors include inadequate or inconsistent cash flow, overly rapid expansion (not turning down projects when they should), and low profit margins based on a failure to understand margins, markup, breakeven points, and accurate estimating. This online presentation touches on the basics of cost estimating and guides students toward improvements they should make in order to ensure long-term financial

This course is highly recommended prior to taking the 8-hour BUSINESS 3451: Essential Cost Estimating Workshop

BUS 2131: Anatomy of Design and Construction Contracts

2 hours
Learning Outcomes
●List key elements of design agreements and construction contracts.
●Discuss getting paid for design work, and fixed-fee vs. cost-plus billing.
●Examine best ways to charge for travel expenses and other reimbursable fees.
●Describe how to use progress payments.

Well-written design agreements and construction contracts based on commonsense and sound legal footing are essential for avoiding conflict and establishing the basis for project success. This class details the fundamental concepts and language for ironclad contract documentation that serves the interest of the designer/contractor and client alike.

​BUS 2611: Essential Business Workshop

Register Here for BUS 2611 at Marco Island, FL March 1-2, 2020
16 hours
Learning Outcomes

List important operational matters to consider when running a business, including general and administrative issues, accounting, finance and credit, human resources, information technology, legal concerns, marketing, advertising, and sales.

Calculate markup to achieve an appropriate gross margin for you company considering overhead and profit.

Interpret financial statements and develop strategies for growing the business, including subcontracting, leasing vs. buying equipment, return-on-investment, cash-flow management, and other important financial concerns.

Discuss contracts, insurance, liability, and dealing with difficult employees or clients.

Operating a construction, service, or retail business can be a rewarding experience but it also comes with great liability and responsibility. This program is the product of decades of work and experience by multiple builders, a Certified Public Accountant and a lawyer who has owned multiple businesses. The 16-hour lecture is interrupted by a series of interactive tasks where the students analyze their own business in various ways. Students can even use their own financials to do some of the basic calculations in class, or in the privacy of their own office. A good design/build firm needs to be on top of their game on both the external client-facing work but also internally on the corporate/personnel-facing operations.

BUS 3121: Benchmarking and The Game of Work

1.25 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Define benchmarking and identify key metrics to track success.
●Discuss how to use benchmarking to gain an advantage over your competitors.
●List ways to make a job into a fun and profitable game.
●Explain Continuous Improvement and how to achieve it via the Game of Work.

This progressive and visionary course describes how to use “benchmarking” as way to foster interest and inject renewed energy into the work place. By establishing a system of achievable goals and performance standards, employees become vested in success as the learn to treat work as the ultimate game. Gain ground on competitors, improve individual and collective performance through structure, action and shared objectives. Learn what it means to win through continuous and identifiable improvement.

BUS 3131: Preventing Litigation

1.5 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Discuss sources of potential liability, limitations of liability and ways to avoid liability.
●Describe key document including contracts, design agreements, soils reports, drawings, specifications and change orders.
●Describe how to handle potential litigation and what to do if you have a construction defect, warranty claim, or breach of contract issue.

Avoiding litigation is a cornerstone of business success and personal happiness. This course is all about preventing trouble that costs untold money, time and emotional wear and tear. Learn how to protect yourself and your company from costly litigation with contractual considerations and real-world experience.

​BUS 3451: Essential Cost Estimating Workshop

Register Here for BUS 3451 at Long Beach, CA March 12, 2020
8 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Describe correct markup and gross margin using accurate profit and loss financial data.
●Discuss payment schedules, cash flow, and construction contracts.
●Identify key factors for maintaining consistent payment schedules for project fees.
●List methods for developing accurate construction cost estimates and calculations for items such as weight of reinforcing steel, excavation volume, trenching, concrete, and other project phases.

This program challenges students to compute markup based on their own financials. Students will utilize the Watershape Advisor® Estimator software developed for the watershaping industry, as a platform to elevate their cost analysis and client presentation, while reducing liability exposure.

BUS 4461: Passing the Torch: Company Valuation & Exit Strategy

1.5 hours
Learning Outcomes
●Describe the often-tricky process of valuing your business.
●Discuss the importance of planning exit strategies, legacy and developing future leadership.
●Examine means to improve the value of your business.
●Discuss the process of buying and selling businesses and the details and avoiding pitfalls in the acquisition process.
●Design an exit strategy to sell, retire, or transfer operational control while still maintaining ownership.

Planning retirement, your company’s future, finding tomorrow’s business leaders and establishing your company’s value are all challenges that are easy to put off, until it’s too late. This course offers techniques for valuing your business or one that you want to buy, the processing of making and accepting offers and the process of transferring ownership and operation.