Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

One year, one startup, one MBA

One year, one startup, one MBA

MBA candidate Eric Johnson runs his own business, The Johnson Organization, a full-service real estate firm specializing in asset management, brokerage, construction, and investment services.

Work while getting your MBA? Eric Johnson will see that ambition and raise you one.

Johnson began his own real estate company, The Johnson Organization, just as he was starting his MBA at Quinlan in August 2013.

“I had always wanted to start my own business,” Johnson says. “Then I lost my mom to cancer a few years ago, and I said, ‘Life is too short.’ I didn’t want to wake up 20 years later, wishing I would have tried to start my own business or to get my MBA.”

Family business

Real estate is in Johnson’s blood, with his father having 30 years of experience as a senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis. Following in these footsteps, the younger Johnson worked for a contractor right out of college and interned with big companies to gain experience.

Starting his own business was much more trial-by-fire, and that is where getting an MBA came in. Johnson was able to take classes that would help his new company, concentrating on entrepreneurship and business strategy.

“Those classes are my bread and butter,” he says. “Business is not black and white, and at Quinlan, they help you with the grey area.”

Hometown glory

Besides starting his own business and working toward his MBA, the Orland Park native is also working on deepening his connection to the Chicago community. Earning his MBA at a university with a quality entrepreneurship curriculum and a strong alumni network was the first step. Now, he is reaching out everywhere, from church bulletins to Crain’s Chicago Business.

His philosophy in a nutshell: Hard work pays off.

“The best part of being an entrepreneur is having the ability to create my own destiny,” Johnson says. “But there’s no more 9 to 5. The alarm goes off at 4:45 in the morning, and I can have a conference call that ends at 10:30 at night. But you should do what you have to do now so you can do what you want to do later.”

Connect with Eric on LinkedIn and view the Johnson Organization’s portfolio.