Business potential in Michigan? Young college graduates are staying here? That’s different from what you may have heard, but it’s true.
Ryan Forrest, Co-Founder of Verde Lifestyles and current student at Oakland University, says the potential of the people is one reason he is happy to be doing business in Michigan.
“There is a lot to be said for the growing technology generation. Especially a lot of the people I’ve met the past two years at events trying to promote Verde, there is a lot of potential in Michigan,” said Forrest. “Even going to other states, there really is not (a) guarantee of jobs. I would rather stay with a solid foundation here.”
With his business partner and recent Michigan State University graduate, Danielle Brycz, they have been working after work on building this business. Verde Lifestyles is their first business venture and their first year in business has been educational. If they had to change anything, they would have started out with a tighter product niche.
“We would have started with fewer products, that would have saved a lot of time an energy on our part,” said Brycz.
Forrest concurs. They started with several hundred products featured on their site and have slowly narrowed it down to around the 60 that sell well. By listening to customer feedback, analyzing sales data and paying attention to shopping channels, they were able to find the products their customers were hungry for were hand-made, environmentally sustainable wood furniture and home goods.
This past July was by far their best month in business. They have found that a mix of social media engagement, search engine optimization and comparison shopping engines that are fueling their growth. While things have grown more slowly than they had envisioned, they are seeing sustained growth in their business, giving them confidence that they are on the right track.
For new entrepreneurs, they have a few words of wisdom.
“It always takes twice as long and twice as much money as you would expect,” quipped Brycz.
“Listen to your customers and don’t quit,” said Forrest. “You have to understand, there’s always ups and downs.”
Starting a business in a down economy, or any economy, is a challenge. But Michigan and Metro Detroit, along with hard work, learning, and persistence is a formula that works. Just ask the crew at Verde Lifestyles.