Detroiters, take ownership of your time and talent with a little of Tory’s “Spark & Hustle”

Next month, a familiar face will fly into Detroit. Her goal? To encourage Metro Detroiters to put a little more spark and a lot more hustle into their game.

The game…is called starting a business, building a brand, creating collaboration and cruising for clients, customers and champions among us.

Here’s the skinny: Tory Johnson, perhaps best known as the “Secret Deals & Steals” lady on Good Morning America, is bringing her event, Spark & Hustle, on July 26 to the Laurel Manor Banquet Center. The 20-city tour aims to promote her book of the same title – but it also serves as a meeting ground and brainstorming center for all Detroiters, particularly female entrepreneurs.

Johnson has already been to Detroit twice; once with GMA where she hosted a job fair at Cobo and another time when she did a segment for the same morning show on women with flexible work schedules. That latter one was held at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a spot Johnson said she still holds in high regard.

“I’m very excited to be headed back to Detroit. I’m hopeful that hundreds of women will join us to take control of their careers by embracing small business – we’ll help them launch or grow no matter what stage they’re at,” Johnson noted.

Why create such an event?

“After spending 14 years helping women get hired, when the job market tanked, more and more of those women asked me to help them start businesses. ‘I got my last pink slip…now I’m going to work for myself’ was a common refrain. All of these people had a great spark — that expertise, idea, passion, nugget of something that they wanted to turn into a business. So I formed Spark & Hustle to teach them the “hustle” part….the steps necessary to turn passion to profit,” Johnson wrote to me.

To give you a taste of what the event will bring, I exchanged emails with Johnson and spoke to one of her keynote guests, JoAnne Shaw, co-founder of The Coffee Beanery, the tasty and well-organized specialty coffee company. (P.S. Other fab guest speakers — include Torya Blanchard from the delish and inspiring Good Girls Go to Paris restaurants — are scheduled to be there as well!)

Some background first: Johnson will visit 20 cities through this event; Detroit is about halfway through the schedule. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Women For Hire, a nationally renowned organization that produces career fairs for women throughout the country. She is also the author of five bestselling career books, including Will Work From Home.

Johnson models the conference tour after the two things that not only beget great small businesses, but will serve Detroit as a mantra of sorts…To get anything off the ground, you need “just two things: a spark of an idea and some serious hustle to make it happen,” Johnson writes on her web site.

Shaw has been in business 1978 when she and her husband founded the Coffee Beanery – long before the American public knew the term “specialty coffee.” Today, the company has three main areas: importing and roasting coffee, shipping and packaging it worldwide and franchising its popular stores. Coffee Beanery now has has about 100 locations throughout the United States, 20 locations internationally.

Shaw said she hopes to explain to the people attending how she found her way into the business world – through a passion for her product.

“You’ve got to have passion for what you do. That’s a given. Without it, you’ll never convey a message that sells,” Shaw said.

Another key message? Never burn your bridges, Shaw said. Every time something seemingly negative happened for the Coffee Beanery as a company, Shaw said she kept things positive. And every time she did, there was an opportunity down the road.

Johnson said female entrepreneurs already possess three important things even before they put out their first “Open for Business” signs. They are: amazing ideas, boundless energy and a genuine desire to do good, Johnson wrote.

However, these same business women must learn a few things, Johnson added. Here are just a few of the nuggets she imparted – and there will be more.

  • “The magic doesn’t happen in ‘planning mode. It only happens when you’re in ‘doing mode.’ So forget about perfection. Stop worrying about crossing every T and dotting every I. Focus on getting into ACTION because that’s when things start to happen.”
  • “Learn how to SELL. Women rather focus on creating/delivering their product, but not SELLING it. No sales means no business. Gotta learn how to sell and be willing to do it.”
  • “There’s a lot of grace in asking for help. We’re always willing to give it, but we must also be willing to ask for it when growing a business.”
  • “Use what you have to get what you want. Don’t focus on what you think you’re lacking. You don’t need an MBA, you don’t need deep pockets, you don’t need well-connected friends. You need sheer hustle.

Hooray for all business owners. But bless those women who drive the economy in this way.

“Small business ownership is all about taking control, making big things happen, having ownership of your time and talent, the ability to do more for yourself and the people you love. At our core, that’s what every woman wants,” Johnson said.

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