Weekly Resource #43 NEIdeas

NEIStart up businesses get a lot of love in the funding world. We’ve covered such things fairly extensively in previous blog posts. But what about the established businesses that need help growing? It can be hard to come by extra cash to push your business to the next level. NEI is here to help with that. In an effort to cater to the established businesses that have been a part of Detroit for years, NEI has launched a new funding initiative called NEIdeas.

A total of $500,000 is ripe for the taking. 30 businesses will receive $10,000 each and two businesses will receive $100,000 each. These two levels of funding are determined by the size of business entering. Businesses that are eligible for the $10,000 grants cannot have an annual gross of over $1 Million. Furthermore, to be eligible for the $100,000 award, businesses must gross over 1$ million and under $5 million annually. Check out the guidelines to see if your business meets the other criteria required for entry into the program.

You can submit your application online or by mail. It will be extremely beneficial to read over the NEIdeas’ website carefully and review the eligibility criteria as well as the fine details of the program. Craig Fahle has recorded a very informative interview with Dave Egner of NEI and Olga Stella of the DEGC regarding the program on his WDET show. Acceptance of applications opens May 8.

Weekly Resource #44 Best Shot Workshop: Detroit

CaptureThe Best Shot Sales Workshop is a great way to become familiar with how to effectively deliver a sales pitch. This event will take place on Wednesday, May 14th in downtown Detroit and is brought to you by the MMIC. It will benefit business owners and entrepreneurs of any level of experience. MMIC strives to present new information and ideas that will better prepare attendees for making sales.

This event centers around a panel luncheon that will consist of in-depth looks into local business case studies. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the case studies and challenges to sales that they face in their own business endeavors.

A local Service provider will be present to detail the resources available for business owners and entrepreneurs. All of this takes place on April 16th. Click the link for more info and for registration.

Weekly Resource #41 MMTC LEAN Panel Discussion

96One thing that I think is important for entrepreneurs to keep in mind is that you are far from the first person to do what they are doing. Opening a business or developing a product has already been done millions of times by millions of people for thousands of years. Seeking the collective knowledge of business owners and creators in order to lean from their success’ and from their mistakes is an easy and effective way to understand what works and what does not. It is not hard to find seminars where such information is readily available. One great example of such an event is the upcoming MMTC LEAN Panel discussion coming up in March.

On March 25th panelists from three different business will share their stories of success. They will discuss their experiences that improved their process’ and bottom line. Hear from the CEO of Aircraft Precision Products, Total Door and Openings, and the director of manufacturing of Peckham, Inc. These three business’ are extremely varied in types of products produced and sold and in the ways they have reached their current status. No matter the market you are in, there is valuable information to learn from each of these leaders.

Click here for more information and to register.

Weekly Resource #37 Junction 440

getlogoWe’ve covered incubators before, specifically, the University of Michigan’s Incubator in Flint. I always enjoy hearing about new incubators, which seems to be happening more and more regularly as of late. Incubators are popping up left and right to cater to all of the different business areas that you may find yourself entering as an entrepreneur. One Incubator that caught my eye was Junction 440, Techtown’s most recent addition to their collection of business resources.  Junction 440 is new, exciting, and most importantly, extremely valuable to those of you who need to rent office space to conduct your business.

Sporting an awesome looking, Google-Esq.  open floor-plan, plenty of rooms to invite your clients to, and in-office bike racks, this incubation space will satisfy the needs of many entrepreneurs. This is a fully equipped office space so you can expect the basic amenities that the modern office worker enjoys; freshly brewed coffee, printers, scanners, and Wi-Fi just to name a few. All of this is brought to you at pricing designed to fit into a small business’ limited budget. Multiple pricing plans are available based on your resource needs and your planned frequency of use. You can purchase day passes if you need to wow some clients for a meeting or, if like me, you find it hard concentrating at home and you need a more regular place to conduct business, monthly plans are available.


Weekly Resource #34 GROW Entrepreneure Training

logoGrand Rapids Opportunities for Women was established in 1989 and has  grown into a promising resource for people of all ages, ethnicity, genders, and incomes to utilize in order to pursue a goal of financial independence through entrepreneurship. This non Profit offers many resources ranging from entrepreneur training to financial support and networking. I’ll be focusing on the entrepreneur training resources that GROW offers in this weeks weekly Resource.

Firstly, if you are planning on attending any GROW classes, it is encouraged that you first attend an “Intro to GROW” event. This is a free orientation to familiarize you with  GROW and it’s programs. Some of GROW’s courses require this as a prerequisite so it is a good idea to attend this hour long introduction.

Start Smart is the most basic business workshop GROW offers. It is held monthly and will help participants understand the many costs and benefits of running their own business. This is another great resource for those of you who are not well versed in the life of an entrepreneur. Into to GROW is a prerequisite for this course.

The largest and most in depth entrepreneurial training that GROW offers is through it’s Small Business Growth and Planning Series (GPS). This Small Business growth and planning series is comprised of three separate “clusters” that address specific and varying topics related to the modern entrepreneur. These three clusters are the Business Basics cluster, the Marketing strategies cluster, and the Financial Awareness Cluster. In the Business BasicsCluster, you will learn how to create a blue print for your business and how to differentiate the different types of organizations. You will also receive a basic understanding of the legal and tax issues that may arise in day to day business. The Marketing Strategies Cluster will cover basic marketing concepts such as market analysis and targeted marketing as well as outlining the process of internet marketing and how to brand and sell your product or service. Lastly, the financial awareness cluster will cover basic bookkeeping, how to calculate the most widely used business formulas, identifying financial resources and learning the process of how to apply for them. Upon completion of one or more clusters, a participant has the opportunity to create a customized implementation plan with the assistance of a GROW Business Counselor.

Weekly Resource #31 Food Lab Detroit

foodlab logoFoodlab is a Detroit organization that aims to accomplish many food-centric goals. Primarily, their aim is to create an environment among the food entrepreneurs of Detroit that facilitates cooperation in order to streamline the city’s growing good food movement. They accomplish this in many ways and since their establishment in 2011, they have continued to regularly introduce new ways for the community to interact and for new food entrepreneurs to develop their business.

Foodlab had a hand in establishing Kitchen connect, which we’ve already covered in a previous weekly resource, but they also own multiple resources designed to support Detroit’s food entrepreneurs.  Monthly meetings take place every second Monday to discuss topics related to owning a food business in Detroit. Childcare and snacks are provided at these meetings making them accessible to many different lifestyles and personal schedules. Check out their calendar for a full list of events and meeting locations. Weekly office hours are another scheduled resource. Every Friday from 8:00am-10:00am staff and leaders in the Detroit food industry are available at these office hours to answer questions, give advice, and to discuss industry relevant topics.

Another resource provided by Food Lab is their annual “Building your Good Food Business Bootcamp”. This camp focuses on educating food entrepreneurs on how to become a “good food business”. Entrepreneurs who care about community and environmental impact are encouraged to interact and form a broader network of food business experts to strengthen their vision for a thriving enterprise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We here at InsYght have much to be thankful for. We are so grateful for the dedication and support of our partners, for the passion & vision of our entrepreneurial audience, and for the promise of this great city.

What are you thankful for?

Happy turkey day  to you and yours.

From: The InsYght Team

Weekly Resource # 29 Global Entrepreneur Week

featuredYou have probably already heard of the BizGrid and may even have a copy of it yourself. On November 19th you will have an opportunity to meet the people that created BizGrid and the organizations that are listed on it. BizGrid goes live on the 19th at this event! Be sure not to miss it.

Thanks to the support of the New Economy Initiative, this event is free to anyone interested in conducting their business in Detroit. Come to this event to have your ideas heard and to gain some perspective of how you can accomplish your business goals. There are a plethora of organizations eager to meet you and help you succeed. Come out to this event to put a face on these hardworking organizations.

This event will include 4 interactive breakout sessions to inspire, inform, and educate attendees. An “open air market” will allow you to network amongst the attending organizations. All organizations at the event are either on the BizGrid already or will be in future iterations. Talking to these organizations is highly encouraged. They know their offered resources on a level of detail that no one else does. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need to meet the challenges that your business may face.

BizGrid Live is a part of Global Entrepreneur Week. Global Entrepreneur Week is dedicated to you, the entrepreneur. It is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch start ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. It all starts on November 18th and lasts for a week. During that week, thousands of events will be taking place simultaneously across the globe.

Weekly Resource #27 – Detroit Startup Weekend

Getting to Know SEO54 hours. That is all you have to work with if you participate in Startup Weekend in Detroit on November 15th. Startup Weekend is a Seattle based non-profit organization that holds events across the globe. In recent years, they have held over 400 events across 100 countries. The goal of every entrepreneur that attends Startup Weekend should be one thing and one thing only, launching a Start up in 54 hours.

Everyone is welcome to participate in Startup Weekend. All that you need is a business idea, a short pitch, and the passion to develop your idea into a full fledged business plan. The event will begin with each attendee presenting their ideas in front of their peers. From there, voting will occur where the top ideas will continue on to the next phase of the event. Teams form around the ideas and work begins!

Over the next few days, Teams will unite in a frenzy of entrepreneurial energy. With the assistance of event proctors, they will work diligently to network, program, design, and plan their business before the time is up. Once completed, teams will present their plans in front of a board of local business leaders whom will provide their expertise and insyght. This is a great opportunity to hear feedback form people who have succeeded in turning a start up into a successful business. Be sure to register soon. Spots are limited.


Are your Financial Projections Just a “Gut” Feeling?

free_169902Investors, lenders, and even friends and family are going to want to see your financial projections before they put a dime into your startup.  Creating realistic, data based financial projections for a startup can be difficult, especially when your idea is new, with little history of success to build your projections.  There are 3 basic steps to create financial projections that are more than just your “gut” feeling.

1.  Supply and Demand Research – The first step in creating realistic financial projections is to understand your market.  Does anyone actually want your product or service?  Then, can you compete with those who already offer your product or service?  A great tool to conduct basic market research is the Google Keyword Planner.  This tool allows you to type in a keyword phrase and find the monthly search volume on Google for that keyword.  For example, let’s say you have an amazing new dandelion plucker tool that allows you to pluck dandelions from your yard without killing your back, using the Google Keyword Planner you can find that there are only 140 monthly searches in the US for “dandelion tool” and 70 monthly searches for “dandelion picker.”  This research tells you a couple of things.  First, there are not millions of people looking for a tool like this already, or at least they are not looking for the tool online.  Secondly, it tells you that online sales of a product like this may be limited.  You may need to build projections based on getting into retail stores with your product.

Finally, you should look at the other tools on the market.  What is their price point?  Can you compete?  Or is your tool so much more innovative that you can charge a higher price than your competitors?

2.  Building Assumptions – The next step is to use the data you gathered in the research phase to build a set of sales, pricing, and expense assumptions for your product or service.  For our dandelion tool example, here are several assumptions that you would need to develop and work into your projections:

  • Retail price
  • Wholesale price
  • Monthly sales volume
  • Growth rate
  • Quantity discounts
  • Manufacturing costs
  • Sales commission costs

You will need to develop all of these assumptions and more to build your model.  You want to use assumptions so that you can quickly and easily change one input like price and have the entire projection immediately reflect that change.

3.  Financial Statement Creation – Now that you have built a number of assumptions, you need to take those assumptions and use them to build a full set of financial projections.  You don’t need to have a PhD in spreadsheet modeling, but your income statement should be properly formatted (revenue on top, expenses on the bottom), your cash flow statement should accurately show the difference between profits and cash flow, and your balance sheet should actually balance!  Getting your projection information into a standard format can be a challenge.  There are a couple tools to help you including ProjectionHub which is a web app that helps entrepreneurs create financial projections, and there are also a number of free Excel templates that can be useful as well.  Creating financial statements that all tie together, and that can be easily manipulated by changing assumptions can be difficult to build on  your own, but most lenders and investors will demand such a model.

Although Mom and Dad may fund your dream on a gut feeling, sophisticated lenders and investors will not.  You need to develop your projections based on research, reasonable assumptions, and the projected financial statements should actually look like… financial statements!  If you can follow these three steps you will be well on your way toward realistic projections and a successful startup.

Image Credit:  © Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos