What does it take to succeed as a business in Detroit? How do newcomers become integrated with long-time companies? How do you grow if you’ve stalled or have an idea to expand?
Those are the questions that small-business owners like Regina Gaines of the House of Pure Vin asks herself on the regular. They are questions that big thinkers like Hajj Flemings, Tanya R. Allen, Rachele Downs and Juliana Perry ask themselves as they help companies dream, create new strategies and implement changes.
They are exactly the questions that Mark S. Lee of The LEE Group hopes the 2016 Small Business Workshop will answer for participants in the event, which is part of Detroit Entrepreneur Week (DEW). The Workshop, which is open to business owners new and old, will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at TechTown, located at 440 Burroughs in Detroit’s Midtown.
May is Small Business Month, and we all know how small businesses are the economic generator across the nation. Truly they are the lifeblood of cities including Detroit, which has benefited hugely from the companies that kept Detroit moving over the past decades as well as the companies that are opening seemingly monthly of late.
The challenge all of these entrepreneurs face sounds simple on the surface: How do you build a business? And after you’ve built it, how do you keep it moving forward?
The LEE Group created its annual Small Business Workshop. With a theme of “Your Critical Keys for Success,” this year’s event has a bevy of business experts, panelists and workshop sessions aimed at offering practical advice focused on topics ranging from communication, branding, finance, sustainability and growth. Entrepreneurs who attend also will have opportunity to have one-on-one time with these experts to talk about specific challenges they face in their business
“Small businesses are job creators,” said Lee, President and CEO of The LEE Group. “Entrepreneurs have major impact on the Detroit economy. And ensuring long-term success is key to sustaining this growth.”
The LEE Group partnered with a variety of event sponsors, including Fifth Third Bank, the Detroit Development Fund, PNC Bank, Comcast Business, RBD Creative and State Farm Agent Cindy Fletcher. Other key participants are the Michigan Women’s Foundation, Inforum Center for Leadership, SBDC Michigan and Brand Camp University.
Hajj Flemings is the CEO and Founder of Brand Camp University. His work in Detroit and for Detroit has been important in terms of helping individuals and businesses define their brand – who they are, how they talk to consumers about themselves and how they present their goods and services to Detroit, the state and, ultimately, the world.
Flemings hopes people who are just starting up, people who want to explore Detroit and people who have hopes of giving the city a boost all think to attend.
“The Small Business Workshop is designed for entrepreneurs and business professionals who want to elevate their game and connect with thought leaders who are transforming Detroit and this region,” Flemings said.
Gaines, the co-owner of the House of Pure Vin, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to starting a business in Detroit. She hopes people will try workshops like this one, look at programs like the Retail Boot Camp at Tech Town and others at groups like the Build Institute to get to see how much room there is in Detroit for big ideas and big dreamers.
“(Getting advice from business experts) taught us how to be business partners,” Gaines said. “It taught us to relate to it like a marriage. We had to learn how to have one voice, how to communicate. But it also taught us how to ask the questions of ourselves that needed to be asked individually – we had to find answers that we were comfortable with as people.”
Gaines, Flemings and Lee all highly recommended that entrepreneurs sign up for the Small Business Conference in hopes of finding mentors, getting the answers they wanted and identifying how they can fit into Detroit’s thriving business scene.
“You need the tools to support your business as it grows,” Gaines said. “Having people work with you to find faster answers ensures you can identify problems, find solutions and keep moving forward.”