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Eastpointe

June 12, 2013

SBTDC offers free class in Eastpointe for entrepreneurs and businesses

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe Councilwoman Wendy Richardson has brought the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center’s free business classes to Eastpointe.

Macomb County residents are invited to participate in Starting a Business, a three-hour SBTDC course, at 9 a.m. June 26 in the council chambers at Eastpointe City Hall. The class covers all the basics of starting a business, including business plans, finances, marketing and management.

“Starting a business is one of the classes the Small Business Administration does on a regular basis,” Richardson said. “I was just happy to bring one to Eastpointe. We’ll go through everything from feasibility — is this a good idea for you? Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? — all the way through market research — how to start researching your ideas. Then, if you decide you should keep going forward, to business plans — how to write a good business plan — and also some of the things you’ll need to do before starting — licensing and insurance.”

Registration is required, but there’s no cost to attend, and Richardson recommends that anyone who can should take advantage of it.

“I like to say this is pre-funded,” Richardson said. “I’m not free, but the SBTDC is funded by tax dollars, so what people need to understand is they have already paid for the service and they might as well use it.”

It’s a service she says is beneficial not just to entrepreneurs, but to business owners and everyone else who is interested in the topic, has an idea they are passionate about or who just wants to learn what it takes to launch a business that lasts.

Her goal is for all attendees to walk away knowing what to do and how to take their next steps.

“No matter where you are in the business-planning process, it’s always a good idea to figure out what you are going to need for that business — it’s so much better to fail on paper than in real life,” Richardson said.

“So if the financials don’t work or if you don’t have enough capital for the first six months of business, you can have a great company, you can start up, but then you’ll close your doors before customers even know where to find you. We like to go through all the planning and give you the best startup possible.”

Everyone who attends the class will receive a 60-page book detailing the various resources and market research available in Michigan.

“We have access to a lot of databases at our headquarters in Grand Rapids, so once you have some idea of a business plan and you have an idea of what you want to do, then you can come in for one-on-one counseling where we talk specifically about your business and we can get market research specific for what you are trying to do,” Richardson said.

One-on-one business counseling is another freebie offered by the organization. Participating in their programs has other perks, too — they have relationships with various funding agencies in the area. With a common passion for small business, SBTDC and Christian Financial Credit Union’s CU@Soup! have shared a blossoming partnership aimed at helping a new local small business or entrepreneur every year.

“This is our third year of doing CU@Soup!,” said Rebecca Monroe, Christian Financial Credit Union marketing manager. “And this year, our partnership with the SBTDC has grown even deeper and we are requiring everyone who submits a plan to take one of their free business classes.”

Business plan submissions must be turned in to the credit union by 5 p.m. Oct. 5, when a panel will pick the top plans to be presented at the CU@Soup! event at the SBTDC in Sterling Heights in November.

Credit union and SBTDC staff, as well as guests at the event, will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite plan, and at the end of the night, the plan with the most votes will receive the total of ticket sales, which are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Two years ago, the winning plan received $500. Last year, the winning plan received $1,400. This year, it could be even more — it all depends on how many Macomb County residents venture out for the event.

“It’s really supported by the community,” Monroe said. “It’s not just the credit union who decides the winner; it’s the community. Anyone in the community can submit a business plan and anyone in the community can attend the event. The credit union hosts the event and pays for the venue as our way of showing the community we support small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

For more information on CU@Soup!, visit www.christianfinancialcreditunioncu.org. For more information on the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center or to register for Starting a Business June 26 in Eastpointe, visit www.misbtdc.org or call (586) 254-3551.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.