Small Business Workshop targets building Detroit’s businesses for the long haul

Small Business Workshop targets building Detroit’s businesses for the long haul

While there typically is huge excitement when starting a new business – sending out press releases, hosting grand-opening celebrations, welcoming waves of new customers – that passion can fade and even be extinguished when the reality of operating day-to-day hits.

Sustaining a business beyond the first year, maintaining and growing a business customer base as well as amplifying a company’s messaging are key themes to the 2017 Small Business Workshop. Now in its third year, the Small Business Workshop will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at TechTown in Detroit.

Michigan Women’s Foundation CEO Carolyn Cassin believes that this year’s Small Business Workshop will help even more small businesses get the information they need to spur business growth. 

This year’s Small Business Workshop theme is sustainability, a topic that is near and dear to Mark S. Lee, founder of the event as well as The LEE Group. The event is co-sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

This is the first year the Michigan Women’s Foundation has sponsored the event. The collaboration has been exciting, and it will benefit participating future entrepreneurs, said Carolyn Cassin, President of the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

“As the area’s largest micro-lender to women and women-owned businesses, we are interested in supporting small business of all sizes,” Cassin said. “The theme this year of sustainability is so exciting because it tackles the hard work of maintaining a business. It takes a variety of skills to keep a business growing, and we want to help people with that hard work.”

The event features workshops, panel discussions and a keynote speaker that will present specific tips and achievable techniques on how to sustain a business over the long term, Lee and Cassin said. The keynote speaker, Dave Zilko, comes to the event fresh off the publication of his first book as well as the multi-million dollar sale of Garden Fresh, a salsa and deli-supply company he helped grow in Ferndale.

TheHUB Founder and Publisher Jackie Berg (left) is among the many supporters of this year’s Small Business Workshop hosted by Mark S. Lee.

“These are entrepreneurs who have crashed through that barrier. They’re going to share their examples and their experiences,” Lee said. “Our hope is that (participants) will walk away with tools that are beneficial and that they can implement immediately.”

May is Small Business Month, and these companies are a major economic engine within the city of Detroit, Wayne County and Southeast Michigan. Detroit is the nation’s fourth largest city in terms of minority-owned small businesses.There are an estimated 62,000 companies of this kind within Detroit’s borders, according to the 2012 Census.

There is ample room within the city and its suburbs for entrepreneurs, both new and experienced, Lee said.

However, data shows that most startups will become has-beens in a short time period. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only about 50 percent of new companies will make it to their first anniversary. And Bloomberg has reported that nearly 80 percent will not make it past 18 months.

“We know Detroit is hot right now. You’re constantly hearing about a new business or restaurant opening. But the challenge is half of those businesses will not make it beyond 12 months,” said Lee, who has years of experience helping companies develop branding and re-branding strategies to strong customer relationships.

Lee and his partners created this year’s Small Business Workshop with these statistics in mind.

The workshop’s mission is to provide practical advice and counsel to aspiring and existing small businesses experiencing start-up and grown challenges. Onsite resources will be available to assist attendees in overcoming day-to-day business challenges.

Topics that will be discussed including knowing your customers and potential customers; gaining the leadership and skills required to get to the next level; managing your numbers and understanding your business model, and effectively amplifying your messages in a cost-efficient manner.

House of Pure Vin co-owner Regina Gaines recommends participation in the Small Business Workshop.

Regina Gaines knows the challenges first hand.

The co-owner of the Detroit-based House of Pure Vin and past conference participant notes that getting advice from business experts is critical and recommends entrepreneurs sign up for the Small Business Workshop in order to find mentors, get answers to questions and find out how they fit in Detroit’s thriving business scene.

The cost is $75 and to register, please click here.


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