Small businesses in Detroit, if you’re dealing with such issues as lack of access to capital, inflation costs, COVID-19 preparation and recruiting and retaining labor, take note.
Registration is now open for the next Small Business Workshop virtual series hosted by business consulting firm The LEE Group in partnership with presenting sponsor Fifth Third Bank.
The first of four sessions kicks off at 10 a.m. May 11. Weekly sessions continue May 18, May 25 and June 1.
The theme of this year’s series, which is its eighth, is “The Future is Now: The Roadmap to Recovery.”
“We know that several businesses are still shutting down,” said Mark Lee, president and CEO of The LEE Group. “So recovery to me, quite candidly, is slowing down the closure rate and focusing on business stability and sustainability. Let’s flatten that curve, get businesses to remain open and then, ultimately, focus on business growth.”
Other event partners whose leaders are expected to be featured during the series include Build Institute, Comcast Business, the Detroit Development Fund, Michigan Women Forward, Tanner Friedman, State Farm agent Cindy Fletcher, and more. They will take on such topics as how to open a business during this time, the challenges that female entrepreneurs face and how to create an efficient communications plan, among other topics.
Build Institute, a nonprofit business incubator based in Detroit, is expected to host a master class during the series that looks at building a financial plan for uncertain times that will allow for sustainability.
Regina Ann Campbell, president and CEO of Build Institute, said entrepreneurs were used to making a business plan with an outlook of five years, but now, they need to make plans in real time.
“We want to inspire them to turn their minds to an abundant mindset versus scarcity, and that has a lot to do with how they think about money and how money matters,” said Campbell. She said she wants people to leave her presentation knowing how to apply the financial solutions that she will present. “We definitely want them to take some time to review and reflect some of the information that we’ve given them.”
In addition to supporting entrepreneurs in their idea process through educational resources, access to capital and support through connections, Build Institute, works with domain registrar and web hosting company GoDaddy to get websites created for their entrepreneurs.
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Build Institute also has a pilot program at 1620 Michigan Ave., Suite 120, where entrepreneurs can host pop-up shops. In this space, entrepreneurs learn about business insights like price strategy, sales scheduling, merchandising and other operational resources.
“What I’m hoping for businesses is for them to come back out into the world” as the pandemic eases, Campbell said. “We particularly have resources that are focused on helping strengthen under-resourced and underserved — so Black, Latinx and women-owned, micro businesses in the community — so that they can get the educational resources because it’s out here. Detroit has a strong ecosystem.”
Last year, the series was organized around the theme of “Reemerging from the Abyss.” Many of the partners from the seventh conference are returning to give their expertise.
“We were still in the throes of a novel virus, and the tools still were not in place,” Lee said about planning for the series last year.
“Yes, vaccines were coming out, but they were just introduced and there was still confusion,” he said. “There were a lot of businesses still somewhat on lockdown because there were a lot of restrictions and businesses were operating at 50% capacity. So there were unique challenges 12 months ago.”
Other topics to be addressed
Finding money. Access to capital has been a major focus in Detroit for programs like the Detroit’s Motor City Match program, TechTown’s capital program, ProsperUs Detroit’s microlending program and many others. New programs have started this year, such as the Motor City Contractor Fund, which is specifically designed for minority contractors in Detroit.
“For the last two years, a lot of small businesses have burned through their capital in order to remain open,” Lee said. “Therefore, they have limited resources to focus on the future.”
Reopening as COVID procedures ease. The easing of restrictions affects businesses, Lee said, so the discussion on this topic will look at the comfortability of customers returning to businesses after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, and what protocol adjustments need to be made to ensure those customers feel safe.
About 200 people are expected to participate in the series this year.
To register, go to leegroupinnovation.com.
Contact staff writer Chanel Stitt on Twitter: @ByChanelStitt. Become a subscriber or gift a subscription.
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