By Christopher Nagy
Help for new entrepreneurs is available in the region
It’s said that coming up with the initial idea is the hardest part.
However, finding the niche, the hook, the public need to be filled is the tiniest step on what can seem to be the long and arduous journey to becoming a business owner. Funding, creating a business plan, selecting a location and considering marketing efforts are just a few of the pitfalls that must be crossed and the precipices that need to be climbed.
So where do you start with the startup?
“Many shy away from becoming an entrepreneur because of fear of the unknown or not being aware of what it truly means to be an entrepreneur,” said Erin Strang, president and CEO of the Central Michigan University Research Corp. “It’s more than good ideas that make an entrepreneur. When you look around at other entrepreneurs and what appears to be an individual’s overnight success, what you rarely see is how long it took. The collaboration. The sacrifices. The ways they tried and failed and tried and failed again.”
Fortunately, new and burgeoning entrepreneurs in the Great Lakes Bay Region have several resources at their disposal such as the CMURC and the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office serving the region out of Delta College. The two tools are the first stops for many people looking to scratch the itch that is business ownership in the area.
“We provide no-cost, confidential consulting services and educational seminars,” said Kristi Kozubal, regional director of the SBDC. “Depending on where the client falls on the path to starting their business, we can help them with anything from simply completing the necessary forms and registrations to designing a business model. We are particularly useful in helping clients with the financial projections and market research necessary to support a solid business plan that will be taken seriously by a lender or investor. Our free online guide to starting and operating a small business is an essential resource for any new entrepreneur starting a business in Michigan.”
The CMURC is a professional coworking space with accelerator programs focused on product and strategic development for entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy in the Great Lakes Bay region. It brings together local, regional and statewide partners to accelerate the success of entrepreneurs, growing businesses and jobs by leveraging the resources of Central Michigan University, the Mount Pleasant SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund.
“Michigan provides many resources to assist entrepreneurs through organizations like ours in the SmartZone network and through the Small Business Development Center,” Strang said. “As one of the 20 Michigan SmartZones, CMURC creates a sense of place and a supportive community for entrepreneurs. We link together professionals, entrepreneurs and corporate partners throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. All SmartZones do something different, but through these state programs are resources available to support startups and growing businesses.”
According to Kozubal, the biggest factors that new entrepreneurs tend to overlook when starting up a new venture are a personal financial budget and the responsibility to pay self-employment taxes and health insurance.
“The difference can be as much as 50% to 60% above the base salary someone leaves a job with a high-quality compensation package,” she said. “Many new businesses fail because the owner does not realize the financial and administrative burden – time – that goes into the responsibilities of business ownership.”
Although she said the trend for new business starts is relatively flat right now following a five-year period of significant growth, Kozubal there are still areas of advancement.
“Based on our internal data, with the economy in such good shape and tourism flourishing in Michigan, we have more startups in the arts, entertainment, recreation and food service industries than we have had since 2010,” she said.
Strang offered a different tack, noting that the largest growth area for new startups is in leadership.
“We need to grow the CEOs, the leaders and the problem-solvers in business. These are people who think critically to move a business forward or to keep it ahead of the curve,” Strang said. “All businesses – whether currently in development or those having been established a long time ago – need a leader who is willing to dig in and work alongside the team. Why? Because the business of business is hard work.”
For more information on the Michigan Small Business Development Center, visit sbdcmichigan.org. For further information on the Central Michigan University Research Corp., visit cmurc.com.